Adelita: ‘Coup’ was going to be another word we were going to discuss.
Antonia: Because coup could still be a change in the system, but not supported by the population, right?
Adelita: Should we look at it up.
Lina: Coup is cutting no?
Habiba: You are the French speaking one.
Lina: ‘Couper’ is to cut.
Antonia: So not just change, but cut. So it doesn’t relate to who cuts. We translate it to ‘colpo’ in Italian, which is ‘to beat’.
Naira: Also in Spanish.
Antonia: In Italian we understand it as people probably coming from the government. So it more internal. Revolution would be mass, but a coup is actually internal.
Naira: People kept pointing out to me after June 30, regardless of weather this is a coup, or a revolution, that in Iranian, I mean Farsi, the word for ‘revolution’ is ‘inqilab’, which is what ‘coup’ is in Arabic.
Habiba: Combbbbleex (Arabized complex).
Habiba: Ok: [reading] “coup d’etat: a sudden and decisive action in politics especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.”
Naira: Can you say it again?
Habiba (slowly): “A sudden and decisive action in politics especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.”
Adelita: “Illegally or by force”.
Antonia: But is it not similar to revolution?
Habiba: Kind of, except for illegally or by force. There is no specification. They don’t specify.
Adelita: There is a different type of agency involved in the notion of a mass of people…
Habiba: Into their own hands.
Naira: Can I ask Mada people, because I think almost everyone would agree that what happened on June 30 is the definition that Habiba just read out. But we don’t use the word ‘coup’. We never had a decision making process around it, but we always used words like the ‘ouster’ of Mohamed Morsi, or ‘military-backed ouster’. But we tend to use ‘ouster’ not ‘coup’ and that just kind of happened.
Adelita: What are the implications of using these three different words? Let me write them down.
Antonia: But what is your question?
Naira: Mada people, would you use the word ‘coup’?
Maha: I wouldn’t use it just like that. I would say a c’oup backed by a popular movement’.
Lina: My main problem with it is the adversaries’ use of it.
Heba: I don’t think I would use anything that suggests a judgment on my behalf. So, if it is controversial, I would just want to say something that doesn’t…
Adelita: So when we encounter terms that are more controversial, the idea is to try to be more objective, and I don’t know if that’s possible? But also more specific? Or culturally sensitive?
Heba: Specific is accurate. Descriptive, you don’t give it a name, you just describe what happened.
Adelita: Is that necessarily being more objective?
Maha: This is censoring, self-censoring. I don’t know.
Naira: It’s the conversation that we pointed out to. That was the conclusion in the end. We had a discussion of terms and then someone said how about we don’t name it, this is what Dina said.
Heba: If I was writing an opinion article, I would say ‘coup’. That’s what I think. But if it is what I think, then I don’t want to have it in a news article.
Adelita: So context specific
Dalia: My friends don’t think it is a ‘coup’ but I used the word ‘coup’. But they are against me and then we fight.
Antonia: What do they use.
Heba: Thawraaaaa (‘revolution’), no?
Dalia: They don’t use revolution per se. But they definitely don’t think it is a coup.
Heba: but if it is not a coup, and not a revolution, what is it?
Habiba: Bobular Ubrising (Arabized popular uprising).
Maha: Yea, once again, I wouldn’t define it, even with my friends, with just one term.
Heba: I am surprised that people who don’t think it is a coup don’t think it is a revolution either. If you don’t think it is a coup, what else is it? There was a president who was overthrown.
Maha: By the military.
Heba: So it has to be …
Everyone talking at once.
Adelita: What other words can we use instead of coup?
Habiba: ‘Popular uprising’.
Naira: We use ‘ouster’ actually.
Habiba: Or ‘deposition’.
Naira: ‘Military-backed ouster’.
Habiba: They use ‘uprising’ all the time.
[Everyone talking at once.]
Habiba: ‘Rebellion’. But I am not sure. Because the Campaign, the June 30 campaign was called Tamarod.
[Everyone talking at once.]
Read more about Adelita Husni-Bey’s (On) Difficult Terms.