Otpor’s strategy mirrors one promoted by a rumpled Boston academic named Gene Sharp, who is little known in America but inspires tremors among dictators abroad. Sharp’s guide to toppling despots has been translated into 34 languages so far and was widely circulated in Egypt last year in Arabic.
After Otpor toppled Milosevic, it began to hold seminars for pro-democracy activists from other parts of the world, including many from the Middle East.
“About 15 of us went to Serbia from Egypt,” Mohammed Adel, one of the leaders of Egypt’s awesome April 6 Youth Movement, which helped lead the way in overthrowing President Hosni Mubarak, told me a few days ago. “The methods we learned from Serbia are what we are using in Cairo.”
A crucial lesson, he said, is the power of nonviolence: “If somebody is beating you, don’t attack him. Don’t use any violence against them. Just take photos of them and put them on the Internet.”
The smart-phone as the new kalashnikov.