.UPDATE: We have temporarily shut down Giraffe Heroes Egypt because the military government there will not allow it. Under the current government, citizen activists can be harassed and jailed if the government merely asserts that they “disturb public order and social peace,or ” harm “national unity.”
But the need for a Giraffe operation in Egypt grows by the day. Egyptians have got to find a way to build a social and political structure that works for all—Muslim and Christian, religious and secular. Their heroes can show them how, and Giraffe Heroes Egypt will tell the stories of those heroes—men and women from all religions, or no religion, committed to a free, democratic pluralism.
BACKGROUND: GHI has been in contact with the heroes of Tahrir Square since the beginning of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. GHI Director John Graham went to Cairo in late May 2013 to set the groundwork for launching Giraffe Heroes Egypt (GHE), a new movement whose purpose would be to find and tell the stories of Egypt's heroes—courageous men and women whose examples would inspire others to transcend religion and partisanship to build together a new Egypt that is safe, stable, just and prosperous. GHE would help construct what Egypt so desperately needs — a national process of building instead of tearing down.
Graham met with key NGO leaders, politicians and educators in both Cairo and Alexandria. All were very enthusiastic about using the Giraffe vision and methods to move many more Egyptians to help rebuild the social and political infrastructure of the country after 30 years of one-man rule. The Library of Alexandria, a secular political party and a human rights-oriented law firm all expressed interest in hosting the new organization. During his visit, Graham gave three seminars on political action, suggesting ways that even people who live in a society as deeply polarized as Egypt’s might find ways to work together to build the secure, just and prosperous society they all say they want.
The work is not without risks. 48 hours after Graham left the country, the Cairo Court ordered the arrest of all foreigners “teaching democracy.”
A few weeks later the Morsi Government was overthrown by the Army, many Morsi supporters (and many others) were killed and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested. Since then there has been a very fragile peace, endangered by government crackdowns.
As the continuing unrest shows, the 2011 Revolution may have the easiest part of this enormous transition in Egypt. Most of the heavy lifting—writing a secular constitution that upholds the rights of all Egyptians, developing and strengthening a vibrant civil society, creating a workable parliamentary and court system, rebuilding the economy—lies ahead. But none of it will succeed until Egyptians can talk and work together— discussing, forming and implementing a common vision of their future. By giving them examples of their own heroes, GHE would inspire and support this process.
Giraffe Heroes International continues to coach by e-mail and Skype from the US. Stay tuned. When an opening appears for launching Giraffe Heroes Egypt, we will take it.