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The Revolution,C* and the Squash Player.

Every leader has a hobby they practice in their spare time, which may be long or short according to the circumstances surrounding them and their countries, but in the end their hobby reflects their personality, their way of thinking or their style in dealing with crises. In Egypt, President Gamal Abdel Nasser used to play chess. His mind was thus always in a dynamic state, especially as the time of his rule witnessed domestic and foreign challenges and difficult tests, requiring someone with special abilities for thinking up solutions or ways of maneuvering or challenging. As for President Anwar Sadat, he was known for his passion for playing dominos, a game played with 28 pieces, each divided into two parts marked with dots representing numbers. Inasmuch as it requires one to have a thinking mind, playing dominos also requires cunning, so as for players to properly corner, surround or disable their opponent from continuing to compete. Moreover, domino players can, as in the Egyptian expression, "mess up" the game in one move, if they find themselves in a situation where it is difficult for them to act, placing their competitors, and even the audience following the game, in situations that keep them busy. Those who lived through the Sadat era witnessed how the man used to always come up with something that would keep people busy, giving himself the space to relax so he can solve his problems and overcome difficult situations. Sadat was also gifted at coming up with names, adjectives or expressions which would always make people think of them, while he would be running things away from the spotlight. Thus this or that would be "the year of the fog", "the tube democracy", "the devout president", "the state of science and faith", "the law of shame" or "the uprising of thieves".

Ever since the January 25 uprising and the events that followed, people kept wondering: how does President Hosni Mubarak think, and what will be his reactions to what is being done and is happening in the street and in the world? What are the decisions he will take or the measures he will implement? Why does he always act too late? How did he put himself in positions of reaction without action? And why is it that, every time he takes a step, it turns out to be in the wrong direction or at the wrong time, neither solving the problem nor ending the crisis? Mubarak has been known for his enthusiasm for the game of squash. He played it throughout his military career and even after he became Vice President and then President. In the process of promoting the President, the state showed great interest in the game, squash events and competitions becoming so numerous that Egyptian squash players achieved high distinctions at the international level. Mubarak appeared on a few occasions playing squash even after he had aged, and of course the national press welcomed such occurrences, using them to promote Mubarak, his simplicity and his physical and mental fitness - and also to suggest that "the President" had the ability to perform his duties now and in the future. The game is played in an indoors court, and requires intense effort exerted by players on an area not exceeding 70 square meters, striking the ball against the wall, on the condition that its impact be more than 43.2 centimeters above the ground, returning to the opponent who must also strike it before it comes into contact with any of the sides of the court or its floor twice. In squash, players do not face their opponents directly, as they essentially play against the wall and interact with walls and floors. What matters is how the ball is played, regardless of the opponent's reaction. And as long as they have the physical and mental fitness required, players can always absorb the shock of the ball regardless of the strength of their opponent.

Mubarak dealing with the revolution "like a squash player", without realizing that it is a revolution and not merely particular protests by real estate tax employees, Al-Mahalla workers, those demanding a proper framework for teachers, those protesting the work conditions of journalists or lawyers, those denouncing privatization or those calling for reform. The squash style was good for him of course but not for his people, as such segments of the population continued to protest without ever gathering in the same place at the same time. And when it seemed that the revolution had gone beyond mere play and become serious, Mubarak maintained his style and faced hundreds of thousands of protesters with his Interior Minister El-Adly, striking strongly against the revolutionaries, as if striking a squash ball, without realizing that every action has a reaction, and that the logic of force and violence against protesters would only increase their strength, their reactions and their insistence on finishing what they had started. They in fact developed their demands from merely declaring their objection to demanding that the game be ended, not just because his style of playing for 30 years has not been to their liking, but because it has harmed them, especially in the latter years of his rule, after he seemed as if playing for himself or for those around him from among the members of his technical team, while the public was well aware of the corruption of such a team. Thus the player with his team came to play in one court, while the public was at another. And when the anger of the masses reached its peak, they came out in a revolution, and would no longer be satisfied unless the squash player announced retiring from the game.

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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Feb 7, 2011
Previous Article:Change from Cairo,C* to Washington as Well.
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