#Tamarrod: a civil campaign against Mohammed Morsi. Goal 15 million signatures
Azzura Meringolo 24 May 2013

In less than one month, they have already collected more than 3 million signatures. In a moment of increasing delusion for the social, political and economic evolution of the country, Egyptian activists decided to get back to the street. This time they do not march in the usual demonstrations. They are asking commuters to fill out photocopied pieces of paper with the heading: “Rebel campaign: to withdraw trust from the Brotherhood’s regime.”

#Tamarrod, that is the name of the campaign. It is nothing more and nothing less than a petition calling for early presidential elections. The document distributed in the streets by a group of activists that has grown exponentially in recent days, sound more an announce than a call.

“I, the undersigned, of my full volition as a member of the National Assembly of the Egyptian people, hereby announce that I withdraw confidence from the President of the Republic, Dr. Mohammed Morsi Isa al-Ayyat, and I call for the holding of early presidential elections. I hold fast to the goals of the revolution, and working toward attaining them and spreading a campaign of insurrection among the ranks of the public so that together, we can bring about a society of dignity, justice and freedom.”

With these short lines, opposition activists inaugurated this new popular campaign that directly addresses the Egyptian Islamist president Morsi. “Because security still isn’t back,” the petition says, “we don’t want you.” “Because the poor still have no place, we don’t want you. Because we’re still begging the outside, we don’t want you” it concludes.

Launched on May 1, both on the street and online, inside and outside Egypt, tamarrod has a clear goal: 15 million signatures by June 30, the anniversary of Morsi’s first year in office. In order to achieve it, activists stop taxi drivers, peddlers, entire families and hand out the paper that, according to them, can save the country.

All start as a spontaneous civil campaign launched by some members of Kefaya, one of the first popular protest movements against the Mubarak regime. But now the majority of opposition parties decide to be part of this new protest. Among them there are members of Al-Dostour – the Constitution party led by Mohammed El Baradei – the Popular Trend and the 6 of April, one of the first revolutionary movement which announced its participation in the campaign shortly after its general coordinator, Ahmed Maher, was arrested by Egyptian authorities. The National Salvation Front, the largest umbrella group for the secular opposition, has also expressed support for the campaign. Speaking to the Lebanese daily Al-Safir, a Front’s member described tamarrod as “one of the means of carrying out a peaceful struggle to change despotic regimes. Also talk-show hosts on private Tv stations have filled out the petition on the air, inviting viewers to do the same.

Worried about the collapse of their popularity and under the fear of the momentum tamarrod has gained, Islamists react launching two counter-campaigns. Ta’yeed – which means support – launched by the Muslim Brotherhood and Tagarod – which means emptiness – launched by the Salafist, one of the most conservative Islamist group. Both campaigns use obedience tendencies of their followers, who might be relatively diminishing. Calling for the respect of the outcome of the electoral process that brought Morsi to power, the Muslim Brotherhood also questions the number of signatures “Rebel” claims to have collected and says it could get even more people to sign a statement of support for the president.

Even if the platform of the tamarrod campaign contains a clear reference to the legal proceedings for withdrawing confidence in the government, it is hard to imagine how this can really happen. Whether it succeeds forcing Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood out of the palace or not, this campaign has already significant benefits. According to Maher Hammoud, editor-in-chief of the Daily News Egypt, tamarrod “is now working as a revolutionary thermometer measuring the ability of mobilization in post-Mubarak Egypt and determining if people are still able to respond to demands of change based on the stock of optimism they might have kept since the 18-day euphoria of Tahrir in 2011.

In addition, at the end of the campaign, “we will be provided with an extremely rich up-to-date source of data about the demographics of political activism, which in turn will be very useful in future planning by the revolutionary youth and opposition. Finally, if the campaign reaches its 15-million-signature goal, it might provide the opposition and revolutionary stars with a last golden chance to maturely team up, politically mobilize and use the momentum of people’s awakening for enforcing real change bringing the revolution back on the right track.”

In a country still ruled by a handful of middle-aged men who, despite belonging to slightly different ideological or social backgrounds, has the same old-fashioned presumption of the previous regime, Egyptian activists, especially those young who have been excluded from politics, are trying to re-boot the revolution. According to a twitter comment “tamarrod might seem like magical political thinking.” But many people remember how something similar worked once before.



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