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Egypt: Gene Sharp Taught Us How To Revolt!

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

Last February, Sheryl Stolberg of The New York Times wrote an article about the political science professor, Gene Sharp, whose ideas were credited by her as being an inspiration for the Egyptian revolution, as well as many other uprisings in the region.

Few Americans have heard of Mr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution — most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.

From Dictatorship to DemocracySome bloggers in the Arab world reacted right after the article was published, but not many people noticed the issue back then. Later on, about two months later, two Egyptian users on Twitter (@HanaSelim and @3arabawy) decided to use the Egyptian way in order discuss Mr. Gene's influence on the revolution. They started a new hashtag on Twitter that mocks the claims of The New York Times article – #GeneSharpTaughtMe.

@3arabawy: I was happy all my life under Mubarak, but suddenly #genesharptaughtme I must rebel.
@SohaBayoumi: People do start civil disobedience without having to have read a book theorizing about civil disobedience. #GeneSharpTaughtMe
@Zjen1: #GeneSharpTaughtMe how to grow and eat garlic and breath in my enemies faces so they will faint.
@M_Alhalaby: #GeneSharpTaughtMe that washing eyes with Pepsi lessens the effects of tear gas.
@CVirus: #GeneSharpTaughtMe how to dodge bullets.
@moneloky: #GeneSharpTaughtMe ازاي اتظاهر تضامنا مع قانون منع التظاهر
@moneloky: #GeneSharpTaughtMe How to protest in support of the law that bans protesting
@prof_mostafa: #GeneSharpTaughtMe how to make a Facebook group
@deetaha: #GeneSharpTaughtMe that social networks is the only method to communicate, even when the Internet is down.
@alaa: #GeneSharpTaughtMe how to throw rocks at thugs, baricade myself behind burned out car hulks, dodge petrol bombs
@mohamedhani: I used to believe that Khaled Said & torture victims died of tickling but #GeneSharpTaughtMe that I was wrong.
@deetaha: #GeneSharpTaughtMe about life, the universe and everything. I now know what 42 means!
@Cairo_On_a_Cone: #GeneSharpTaughtMe how to make chicken Tikka without actually killing the chicken. #NonViolence
@Omr_G: #GeneSharpTaughtMe hashtag taught that there is a person called Gene Sharp who is willing to take credit for our revolution.
@nermin79: #GeneSharpTaughtMe that the west always wants to be sure that white men get credit for all the great things that happen
@ArabUprising: #GeneSharpTaughtMe that backward brown & black people need the permission of the white man to #revolt against his puppets
@L_HommeRevolte: #GeneSharpTaughtMe that the Libyans got what they deserved for not following his teachings.
@BSyria: People in Syria today were chanting: “Our blood, Our souls, we sacrifice for you, O Gene Sharp!” #NotTrue #GeneSharpTaughtMe

I myself have never heard of Gene Sharp before, as so do many others, and that's why many of them started to wonder who Mr Sharp was after seeing the hastag.

@MoniicaNag: Who the heck is Gene Sharp?
@abdelrahmanG: I thought it's something related to biology, “gene”.

Mostafa Hussein remembered he'd already read one of his books before but draws the line there.

@moftasa: When someone reminded me of his writing. I thought he meant G# programming language.
@moftasa: I remember reading his book or parts of it in 2002 because I was looking for free ebooks to read, but then totally forgot about it.

Others also added their two cents.

@prof_mostafa: Is it real that some westerners think that #GeneSharpTaughtMe anything?!! Give me a break!
@alaa: hell more people read gramsci, cliff, negri, and even @NaomiAKlein and Chomsky than Gene Sharp in #Jan25 and #sidibouzid revolutions
@moftasa: Don't forget that the other side used tools & ideas from the west. Tear gas, spy software, kettling, US foreign policy. Let's list them here
@sarrahsworld: Gene Sharp issue is a perfect example of bad journalism.Very tabloid. Journalists reveal the truth, not suggest “media sexy” conclusions
@jilliancyork: I hope the @NYTimes is paying attention to the #GeneSharpTaughtMe hashtag.

Finally, Soha Bayoumi wanted to make it clear that Gene Sharp is not the one to be blamed here.

@SohaBayoumi: I respect Gene Sharp, but his books had almost no influence on the #Jan25 revolution.
@SohaBayoumi: Gene Sharp didn't claim his books inspired the #Jan25 revolution. Some Western mainstream media did. It's false.

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

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