Writers and Artists for Change express Arab popular sentiments
On Wednesday, Aug. 2 the Writers and Artists for Change Movement celebrated its first anniversary by planning a more intensive street presence to show solidarity with the Lebanese people and the Lebanese resistance.
United by a belief in freedom of expression and democracy, the movement was started a year ago by a large number of influential Egyptian intellectuals, first appearing on the streets directly before the launch of the presidential campaigns.
This first appearance in which the writers and artists of the movement declared their opposition to the reelection of the president and to the idea of inherited power marked the start of their political activities.
“Our political goals are clearly stated in the manifesto signed by the members. Most important of which is the freedom of expression and the writing of a new constitution that would create a balance in the distribution of power between the state and the people, Adel Al-Siwi, painter and spokesperson of the movement, said. Throughout last year, the members of the movement took to the streets every time they felt that any of the basic human rights they are fighting for had been violated. They made their presence felt when journalists were harassed, when the Beni Sueif theater fire took place, when the judges came out demanding more judicial freedom, and now they are demonstrating for Lebanon.
Though almost all members of the movement are staunch secular leftists, their attitude towards the Lebanese resistance has come to reflect the attitude of the Arab people. No matter what their religious, social or political orientations are, the Arab public supports the Lebanese right to resist the Israeli aggression.
According to Mohammad Hashim, owner of the Merit Publishing House, and one of the senior members of the movement, the main reason behind the support of the Arab public for Hezbollah lies in the fact that they have shown that there is still hope for a strong Arab nation.
“For the first time Hezbollah was able to force the Israelis to hide in shelters and to defeat their soldiers, Hashim said, adding, “It has made us regain our confidence and belief that no matter how powerful and ruthless the enemy is, we should never give up.
Al-Siwi, who describes the Lebanese crisis as tragic, agrees. “No matter what its ideology is, [Hezbollah] in the end is a patriotic Lebanese resistance group . and we should support it because it has recently become a target for attack by the world powers, whether international capitalist powers or local backward Arab and Israeli powers, Al-Siwi told The Daily Star Egypt.
“Resistance has become a rejected idea and the easiest way to get rid of it is by accusing it of being a terrorist, he added.
Like the Arab public, members of the movement have been deeply disappointed by the official Arab attitude towards the crisis. “The Lebanese crisis does not only have to do with Lebanon but with the Arab identity as a whole, Sahar Al-Mougy, novelist and member of the movement said, adding, “But unfortunately the Arab rulers are taking a stance that is not only less than expected, but also cowardly. There is a clear divorce between the opinions of the rulers and their people.
According to Al-Siwi, the international response to the crisis has also been disappointing. “The international responses to this tragedy have been way less than expected. Why didn’t European and international artists protest? I don’t understand, he exclaimed, adding, “So many children are dying, how come this didn’t move anyone? There is something strange as if there was a general consensus to let this crime take place.
Though the artists movement has been trying to express and reflect the opinion of the public with regard to the Lebanese issue, many members are aware that their influence has been inadequate.
“We want to show our support for the resistance, but our means are very limited. We can go out on demonstrations and set concerts but we know that this is too little in comparison with the size of the Lebanese tragedy, Al-Siwi said. “However, these efforts at least show that there are still people who care.
In addition to the demonstrations plans, a coming conference in support of the Lebanese cause and a number of exhibitions whose funds will go to the Lebanese people are being set up to take place very soon.