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RANYA KHALIFA: "Democracy Digest"...


Who Will Write Our History?

Posted on January 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

A question keeps hounding me these days as the first anniversary of our January 25th Revolution draws ever so close..namely, "who's going to write about January 25th and its aftermath in our history textbooks?" How will this revolution go down in history and how will the next generations perceive the "facts"?  What are the "facts" and who can claim to have a neutral take on what happened in Egypt, not only during the 18 days till the fall of Hosny Mubarak on February 11, 2011, but on the events of Mohamed Mahmoud street, Maspero and on People's Assembly clashes?

But, before I begin to panic that our history will be colored according to various political hues, or that whichever political party that is allotted the Ministry of Education will skew events according to its advantage, I am reminded of the fact that social media has become a de facto "big brother" breathing down everyone's neck..history is no longer recorded in newspapers and magazines, but has become an amalgamation of YouTube sound bites, Tweets, Blog posts and citizen journalism first-hand accounts, often accompanied with high resolution photography!  So, who again, will write our history?  And if we have several conflicting accounts of a particular event, who commands the one version that will go down in our students' history textbooks, as the most accurate, "unbiased" one?

And how does a people's Revolution get accurately and objectively depicted between differing forces of the Revolutionary Youth (not a homogeneous group by the way), who sparked the flames of January 25th and the Islamists who managed to garner 70% of parliamentary seats? The majority party, was won by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), securing a whopping 47% of seats all on its own! So, who will write our history? According to Wikipedia, history is "a field of research which uses a narrative to examine and analyze the sequence of events, sometimes attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and effect that determine events".  But is there such a thing as "objective history"

When it comes to a Revolution like January 25th, a true people's Revolution, one without a leader to claim it as his own doing, could there not be more than one "valid" vantage point? What if the Muslim Brotherhood has one account of the events leading to January 25th, and its aftermath, whereas the Revolutionary Youth have another story to tell? And what if activists and citizen journalists recorded yet different accounts? Which vantage point is the neutral, objective one that will be presented to Egypt's students in schools?

At a delicate point in our modern history, there are opposing forces, some seeking to complete the January 25th Revolution whereas other forces are calling for "stability" and the reinstatement of the state's very essence, functions and aims. Oscillating within such a volatile time-frame, one which is characterized by a deep mistrust of authority, where institutionalized power is believed to be invariably exercised in the interest of those who wield it to exploit others, the question of ensuring factual recorded history becomes paramount...

So, who will write our history?

Categories: Egyptian Politics Today...

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