All of them are unlikely rebels. They are quiet, mostly unassuming, and doggedly hopeful. “The strong hand over society will never protect any dictator forever,” Mohamed Zaree said, shortly after a hearing at which the assembly-law case was adjourned yet again. “At some point, however hard a fist is clenched, it comes apart.” The price to be paid in the meantime is the endurance of thousands of disillusioning setbacks. Dissidents do not have the luxury, as guerillas do, of living outside society and periodically striking at it. They remain in the midst of things, witnessing crimes and abuses too numerous and commonplace to note. Having lived so long with the contradictions of their lives, Egypt’s dissidents have forgotten that they are courageous, if they ever knew it. They just persevere, sustained by the belief that there is something in man that must be defended, and that the current state of affairs is beneath their dignity.
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