In the weeks following the 30 June protests in Egypt, spearheaded by the Tamarod (Rebel) campaign, distinct yet fundamentally similar namesake campaigns sprang up in the Arab world. The Rebel campaign, turned grassroots movement, led to the removal of elected former president Mohamed Morsi.
In Tunisia, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Morocco, and Palestine, different versions of the Tamarod campaign took root, each born out of the experiences and political demands of its own country.
Inspired by Egypt, Tunisia was the first to follow suit after Egypt in early July, beginning with a nationwide signature drive.
Mahdi Saaied, spokesperson for Tamarod Tunisia, told Ahram Online that Tamarod Tunisia aims at reaching two million signatures, with 1,600,000 gathered by 26 August.
Though the signature drive mirrors that of Egypt, Tamarod Tunisia eyes a different end goal.
“We differ from the Egyptian experience in that we don’t want the military to intervene in political affairs,” Saaied said. “Our military is much-respected in the capacity of defending and protecting our country.”
Speaking to Ahram Online, Meriem Dhaouadi, a Tunisian youth activist, expresses the campaign’s clear-cut demands, which comprise of calling for the formation of a consensual government, dissolving the elected National Constituent Assembly charged with drafting the constitution and creating a “body of experts” to replace it.
Though such demands still stand, the movement added another goal after the watershed date of 25 July: to find out who is behind two political assassinations in Tunisia.
Parliamentarian and NCA member Mohamed Brahmi was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside his home in the exact way in which political opposition member Chokri Belaid lost his life 6 February.
On 27 August, the Tunisian government declared the ultra-Salafist group Ansar Al-Sharia responsible for the two killings, additionally citing the group’s links to Al-Qaeda.
“This is only half of the truth,” says Saaied. “Since the first assassination of Belaid, we already knew that Ansar Al-Sharia was behind it. What is new and should be revealed is that Ennahda (the ruling coalition) conspired in these murders, along with the interior ministry. This is stagecraft, a play to divert blame from Ennahda,” Saaied added.
Mehdi believes the security establishment in Tunisia is working with Ennahda to cover up its role in the assassinations.
Saaied says that Tamarod supporters are to continue an open-ended demonstration in front of the Constituent Assembly, floating additional demands such as disbanding militias and removing Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki. Protestors have clashed with security forces on several occasions, including 29 July, when many were injured.
Standing intransigent on the NCA’s dissolution has pitted the campaign against the government, which has recently gone into negotiations with trade unions and the opposition, promising the formation of a consensual government.
Mabrouka Mbarek, a Congress for the Republic NCA member, said that asking the government to resign is a legitimate demand, but calling for the dissolution of the NCA is “irresponsible.” “The government was not able to prevent the assassination of a politician,” she asserted.
Tamarod Bahrain was launched 14 August, Bahrain’s Independence Day from the British in 1971 – an anniversary that the regime refuses to recognise. The campaign called for partial civil disobedience in cities in Bahrain and its capital after police, in anticipation of that day, had warned of a harsh response.
Only weeks earlier, the Bahraini parliament presented a set of 22 recommendations to curb “all forms of violence and terrorism.” Those included “applying all punitive laws” and penalties related to committing acts of terrorism, the harshest of which is stripping instigators of their citizenship, and banning sit-ins and rallies in the capital Manama.
“Democracy,” a highly symbolic demand, was what pushed people to take to the streets on the day of the anniversary, Tamarod Bahrain spokesperson Hussein Youssef said, adding that “that was in itself the campaign’s objective.”
“We created a different model of Tamarod than that of Egypt. We did not collect signatures, but rather brought together nationalists and streamlined different groups under a popular, pro-democracy framework. It didn’t matter if a group called for the total overhaul of the system or just reform. We wanted to create a new equation on the ground [between the people and the regime],” Youssef explained.
Only attempting to gauge people’s response, Youssef deemed the campaign successful, with a 60-65 percent participation rate in the capital, and 58 percent in other areas.
Youssef is now under UN protection in Beirut after the Bahraini government requested his deportation. “We will continue to respect the laws, but laws presented by parliament and the regime are unjust and do not fit a country aspiring for democracy,” he said.
Syria, Libya, Morocco, and Palestine
“We are not against Hamas as a resistance movement , but we are against its complicity in seeking to spearhead [Muslim] Brotherhood projects in the region, and dissolve national issues, including the Palestinian cause. We are against Hamas’s policies because they aim to scrap a true liberation movement which only belongs to the people,” Qais El-Baroudi, spokesperson for Tamarod Gaza, told Ahram Online.
The Gaza campaign began with a marginalised group of youth — four of which were later arrested — who were fed up with Hamas fostering, in their view, an environment devoid of democracy and civil participation. Their first appearance was a homemade video of masked men railing against Hamas.
How the campaign is to develop is linked to the volatile situation in Gaza.
“Tamarod Gaza is not a copy-paste of the Egyptian campaign for several reasons. We do not collect signatures because, in Gaza, we have no independent judiciary and army to protect us as in Egypt, for example. Therefore, the movement will take up its character in response to the facts on the ground,” El-Baroudi said.
A separate Tamarod Facebook page for Palestine was created on 1 July, calling for an end to division and corruption.
Another for Libya vaunts the banner: “Revolution is our unity and parties are our division.”
Syria’s Tamarod campaign action centres around gathering signatures against the Syrian National Coalition, which has fallen short of delivering on its promises to Syrians, organisers say.
In Morocco, a local Tamarod campaign began with the call to bring down the Islamist government of the Justice and Development Party, and is finding support from people across the political spectrum.