The Academy of Change
The first mention of the Academy of Change (AOC) in relation to the Egyptian Revolution of 25 January, came in a Reuters report published on 13 April 2011, under the title of “Inside the Egyptian Revolution”.
In the report, Reuters stated that the Academy of Change was founded in London in 2005 by Hisham Morsy, Wael Adel, and Adel’s cousin Ahmed Adel, and that the Academy moved to Qatar later on. Reuters claims that the AOC was involved in training Egyptian dissidents (Kefaya and April 6 Youth among others) ever since 2005. Reuters also claims that the Academy is one of those involved in the planning of the events that took place Tahrir, and the training of the revolutionaries, through a vague character with the name “Saad Bahaar“.
Reuters report wrote:
“Inspired by the way Serbian group Otpor had brought down Slobodan Milosevic through non-violent protests in 2000, the trio studied previous struggles. One of their favorite thinkers was Gene Sharp, a Boston-based academic who was heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The group had set up a webpage in 2004 to propagate civil disobedience ideas in Arabic.
At first, the three young Egyptians’ activities were purely theoretical. But in November 2005, Wael Adel came to Cairo to give a three-day training session on civil disobedience. In the audience were about 30 members of Kefaya, an anti-Mubarak protest group whose name means “enough” in Arabic. Kefaya had gained prominence during the September 2005 presidential elections which Mubarak won by a landslide. During these protests, they had been attacked by thugs and some women members had been stripped naked. Bahaar joined Adel on the course and his career as an underground trainer in non-violent activism was born.
Adel taught activists how to function within a decentralized network. Doing so would make it harder for the security services to snuff them out by arresting leaders. They were also instructed on how to maintain a disciplined non-violent approach in the face of police brutality, and how to win over bystanders…
… The Academy became a window for Egypt’s activists into civil disobedience movements outside the Arab world. To disseminate the new methods of resistance, it wrote books about nonviolent activism with a focus on the Arab world: “Civil Disobedience,” “Nonviolent War the 3rd Choice” and “AOC MindQuake” that were published in 2007.
A year later the Academy published “Shields to Protect Against Fear”, a manual on techniques to protect one’s body against attacks by security services during a protest. “The idea of non-violent protest is not martyrdom,” Adel said. “We knew to get ordinary Egyptians, and Arabs, to face their governments and security, they have to have tools to protect themselves. This boosts the morale and enthusiasm to go to the street.”
Then the report goes on to make the link between the Egyptian Revolution and the Academy of Change:
“February 2010. Mohamed ElBaradei was back in Cairo. The former head of the International Atomic Energy Association and Nobel peace prize winner had inspired some of Egypt’s younger generation that change was possible. Several of them had created a Facebook page backing ElBaradei as the country’s next president. But how were they to achieve their goal given Mubarak’s repressive regime? They turned to the Academy for help.
The Academy directed them to its online training manuals, which the Facebook activists tried for a while. But despite their internet savvy, many felt that relying entirely on online training was too theoretical. Couldn’t the Academy give them practical training? Enter Bahaar.
Those who had signed up to the Facebook page were divided into groups of 100. Bahaar trained eight of the groups in different parts of the country using, among other tools, PowerPoint presentations that explained how you maximize the power of a protest movement. Every protester had a family, and around the family was a wider community, Bahaar explained. If a protester was arrested or beaten by the police, his or her family might be radicalized. Similarly, if a policeman engaged in brutality, his family and social network might not be supportive. By maintaining disciplined non-violent activity, the regime’s power could be progressively weakened.”
The academy was officially founded in London, UK March, 2006 as a scientific institute that is specialized in studying and researching the sciences social, cultural, and political transformations especially in Arabic and Islamic region.
Although established in London, its focus has been the geopolitics of the heart of the world, which happens to be the Middle East and its adjacent countries.
This gave the AOC its unique edge of being one of the earliest scientific research establishments in the West with deep roots at the East that tackles the concepts of “social transformation” and “political change” through a set of independent or overlapping research programs. AOC has been a success in its activities so that it is expanding and recently established its first branch in the Middle East in Qatar in 2009. Then it estaplished its branch Vienna, Austria, 2010.
The AOC website verifies that the founders of the Academy are:
Hisham Morsi - physician
Ahmed Adel Abdelhakeem - chemist
Wael Adel - civil engineer
In the Publications section, the English website contains these downloadable books by the Academy:
The Anti-Coup, by Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins
On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking About the Fundamentals, by Robert Helvey
Path Of Resistance, by Per Herngren
Nonviolent Action Handbook, by Sanderson Beck
Civil Disobedience, By Henry David Thoreau
Civil Disobedience Training Act Up
But more importantly, the Arabic website contains these books:
From Dictatorship to Democracy, by Gene Sharp (in Arabic and English)
Nonviolent War the 3rd Choice, سلسلة حرب اللاعنف by the Academy, 2007
The Weapons of Nonviolent War, أسلحة حرب اللاعنف by the Academy, 2007
AOC MindQuake, سلسلة ثورة العقول by the Academy, 2007
Shields to Protect Against Fear, الدروع الواقية من الخوف by the Academy
Demonstrations, التظاهرات by the Academy
A Road Map to operations and Tactics, خارطة العمليات و التكتيكات by the Academy
There is also a list of “Recommended” movies which includes (but are not limited to):
V for Vendetta
Battle in Seattle
and Hitler: the rise of evil
The Academy website links to:
The Facebook page of “The Academy of change”: listing it’s Headquarters in Doah, Qatar, notable to mention is that the Facebook page had little over 6,000 followers.
The AOC twitter account with little over 400 followers and it’s YouTube channel.
However the most disturbing thing about the Academy of Change, is that both AOC websites (Arabic and English) do NOT list a team or staff, or the Academy’s funding sources. We tried to search online for any indication where the AOC funding comes from, with no avail.