Since Adbusters original call to action in July—which asked “Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?”—organizers hoped Occupy Wall Street would be an American extension of the nonviolent movement that brought down Mubarak in Egypt earlier this year.
Now the folks occupying Liberty Plaza and other public spaces across the country don’t have to wonder what the leaders of Egypt’s still ongoing revolution think about their growing movement.
Last week, Ahmed Maher, a founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, which was one of the key organizers of the uprising in Egypt, along with two other leading Egyptian activists, visited OccupyDC and the occupation of Freedom Plaza to show their solidarity and offer words of advice.
And yesterday, Maher and Asmaa Mahfouz, another founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, who became famous after her videos calling for protests went viral in Egypt, visited Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza. They held a teach-in, met privately with some of the organizers and led an impromptu march to Wall Street.
Interestingly, Danger Room reports that Maher has been in touch with activists at Occupy Wall Street through Facebook already, saying:
“We talk on the internet about what happened in Egypt, about our structure, about our organization, how to organize a flash mob, how to organize a sit-in… [and] how to be non-violent with police.”
“We kept peaceful, because we wanted to attract people to us,” Maher explains. “If we used nonviolence, without killing any soldiers, then the people would help us.”
What impact this advice has had on the thinking of Occupy Wall Street organizers isn’t known, but the occupations in New York, DC and around the country have thus far been remarkably nonviolent, even in the face of police brutality.
If the movement continues to grow and find ways to create more pressure for real change, however, repression will almost certainly escalate. How activists involved in the Occupy movement respond to far greater provocation will be the ultimate sign of whether Maher’s call for nonviolent discipline has really been heard.
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Waging Nonviolence is a leading publication on social movements around the world, and we’re looking to expand our coverage and work with new writers.