Requiem for a revolution

In the aftermath of what seems to be known now as just "the movie," a young man is in prison for being an "atheist," while another has been sentenced to six years for offending Islam and the president. More footage of protestors being beaten by the police, more pictures of clouds of tear gas hovering over Downtown Cairo.... Really, little has changed... Or perhaps there has been no change at all.

To clarify, everything that follows is my own. I am not speaking for anyone, I am not claiming I know what's going on with others, I am simply writing what's on my mind, no one else's.

I participated in the revolution -- whatever that means. I, together with some friends, walked the walk on January 25th, and again on the 26th, and the 27th, and the 28th. You know the rest. On Friday the 28th, after six hours of street battles across the country, we saw a police-free sunset. The revolutionaries began their sit-in at the square, and stood their grounds until Mubarak stepped down. I fought to make it to the square to deliver medicine and what not on the 3rd, after having been up all night crying my eyes out, as I watched my friends, and everyone else, fight for their lives against what was clearly a government-orchestrated ambush.

I remember screaming at my parents so many times during those 18 days. Screaming that they were selfish. That they do not understand. That they should understand what we're fighting for, something they never did, and instead of fighting us they should fight with us. I remember guilt tripping them, telling them that people are dying in that square while they are comfortable in their homes. I also recall my mother blaming me for the stagnation, for "ruining" the country.

One night the scales tipped in our favor, and so many joined us. We celebrated. We even took the credit. We were so proud, and we were congratulated left and right. Our sentiments toward the martyrs were those of gratitude and bittersweet happiness. We were thankful, and we were thanked.

Today, the truth is, so many of us are depressed. We are feeling guilty and an unbearable amount of guilt. Our feelings about our martyrs turned to utter sadness. "What a waste. What a shame. What was it all for?"

We started off with messages of encouragement to those who showed signs of fear, reassuring them that everything will work out. That now we have a chance to be part of the government that was hijacked from us for years. That -- despite all the signs pointing to a Muslim Brotherhood government -- we were certain that we would make it into parliament, and make it strong.

Sometimes, jokingly, my father says, "Good job, you got us the Brotherhood." He says it with a smile, and if my reaction is not a joke-appropriate one, he reassures me that it had to happen, that things will never be the same. That come what may, what we did was brave and had to be done. My dad might be smiling, but I still look down, and feel that guilt. It's not regret. I am proud of every moment and decision I made to be part of this. It's just sadness.

Who can silence these creeping thoughts and self-asked questions: "What have we done? We single-handedly gave this country away to a different bunch of thieves, a gluttonous militia, out for its own agenda. Not for any of the things that echoed in that square. And even worse, we had a chance to fight them and we failed. We didn't organize, we didn't unite, we didn't win those elections, and we didn't seize the moment we've been waiting for, though it came more than once."

To those who didn't believe, don't think we aren't feeling like shit. Don't for one moment think we don't see it.

But still, don't torture your kids, the ones who took part. Don't blame them. Don't hold it against them. They were so brave, they were determined, they were strong and faithful to what they believed in. They put everything on the line, and took a chance, the one your generation failed to take.

No one needs to blame us, our guilt is more than sufficient. But instead of blaming us, join the fight. Must you either congratulate or berate? Must you always just be a spectator? Join the fight. Because -- despite all the guilt and the stress and the weighing burden and the loneliness and the confusion -- we are still trying. We haven't given up yet and we are here to fight. We realize that, as a generation, this is how it will be for us. Our youth has been dedicated to this, and our life will never be the same or normal.

Journalist Sarah Naguib took part in the 18-day Egyptian uprising in early 2011. Many of her tweets from Tahrir Square are featured in the book Tweets from Tahrir. She currently works as a social media director in Cairo.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe

Democracy Lab

Anti-American film protests in Indonesia: Late and limited

Any decent Muslim would have been angered by the portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed in the film Innocence of Muslims. But it took a few days longer in Indonesia, the country with the world's largest Muslim population, for the rage to translate into violent protests against American interests of the kind that happened elsewhere in the Muslim world.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters from the Front for Islamic Defenders (FPI) and the Islamic People's Forum (predictably) clashed with riot police as they attacked the U.S. embassy in Jakarta. They managed to convey their message loud and clear, including burning the American flag, before calling off their action. Like their Arab brethren, the protesters singled out the United States, where the film was apparently produced and released.

Police said 11 officers had to be treated for injuries, and five protesters were held for questioning.

A lamentable outburst, for sure. Still, many Indonesians expressed relief, knowing that it could have been worse going by the violence that had erupted in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen in the preceding week.

Another protest, smaller and peaceful, was held outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta last Friday by the Islamic organization Hizb-ut-Tahrir. There were protests elsewhere in Indonesia on Monday, but they were peaceful. It remains to be seen whether Indonesia has experienced the last of anti-American violence in response to this anti-Muslim film.

The relatively peaceful protests do not mean that Indonesian Muslims are not as outraged as other Muslims, even assuming that many of them had access to the movie or the trailer on the Internet. Many turned to Facebook and Twitter -- Indonesians today count among the largest users of social media networks in the world -- to vent their anger. Naturally many questioned whether free speech in the United States means that everything goes, including insulting Islam, God, and the Prophet.

The Indonesian Ulema Council, an umbrella group for all major Muslim organizations in the country, said that all Muslims should be angry whenever their religion is insulted -- but it cautioned against resorting to violence to express such rage.

The day after the fatal attack which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya in Benghazi on Wednesday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned the movie as well as the violence -- before the rioters attacked the U.S. embassy in Jakarta. Minister of Communication and Information Tifatul Sembiring also was quick to act, and demanded Google remove the movie trailer from YouTube; now the trailer cannot be accessed from Indonesia.

Many Indonesians heeded the appeal. But for most, the government had already acted on their behalf.