We are at quite a serious crossroad in Egypt. We have reached a point where the constitution is about to be drawn up by people who have only been in power 60 days and whose beliefs often run against democracy.
We are at quite a serious crossroad in Egypt. We have reached a point where the constitution is about to be drawn up by people who have only been in power 60 days and whose beliefs often run against democracy. It is a ridiculous situation to be in and it has come about because people are yet to understand what democracy is, concentrating only on the fact that a vote was made. The basic principles of democracy are ignored because your average Egyptian thinks that because Morsi won the vote, he gets to become our elected dictator. The concept of an opposition has been spun quite skilfully by the Brotherhood machine as dissent against the revolution. Erm, hang on…Did they just say defying the president is counter-revolutionary? Did people really just agree?
Let’s set aside the fact that it’s utterly ridiculous for those in power to be writing the constitution which could apply for years to come. Let’s even ignore the fact that if the draft doesn’t come out the way he wants it to, Morsi is likely to always choose Muslim Brotherhood members for the constitutional committee and repeat the process until it’s exactly the way they want it. Our real problem lies in what I like to call the 25th of January Syndrome.
It seems that those who want a civil state are stuck in some kind of time warp – the revolutionaries don’t want anyone who offended them to be integrated into the next steps of development and everyone else is in a deep state of depression, muttering ‘I told you so,’ and diving into a defeatist attitude.
In the middle of this all, the first true calls for a true civil state have been voiced by the ‘wrong’ type of ‘liberals’, namely Tawfik Okasha and Mohamed Abu Hamed. They are deemed the wrong type because Okasha slated the protests in Tahrir and Abu Hamed was part of the old regime.
But let’s just think logically for a minute: why did Okasha oppose the protests in Tahrir? Well, because it posed a personal risk to the benefits he had under Mubarak and, more importantly, he predicted that it would lead to a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood. Is that not exactly what happened? People like to think of him as a crazy man but the reality is that he is just voicing what millions are feeling. That means he represents the mentality of millions of potential supporters of a true civil state.
What’s the problem? On one hand, the Okasha-ians, as I like to call them, don’t want to forgive the revolutionaries for getting us to this Ikhwan-led stage. On the other hand, the revolutionaries don’t want to accept the Okasha-ians’ point of view that we might have made a fatal error with the revolution. Both parties are right and both parties are wrong, but there is one unifying theme and that is that both sides want a civil state.
The fact is that the back and forth between those who supported the January 25th movement and those who didn’t is moot, and this argument is precisely what is stopping any real change from happening. The other issue is that the revolutionaries (who seem to be gearing up for a second uprising) only want those with the exact same outlook to join them. Clearly they forgot that in order for the revolution to happen in the first place liberals, the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis and everything in between had to join forces. At that time, they were willing to overlook the fact that many of the Islamists’ ideologies run completely against the notion of democracy. This makes it even more amusing that they are NOT willing to support the Okasha-ians which, despite his ramblings and obsession with milk, is more ideologically in-tune with the majority of Egyptians when discussing the aim of a non-religious civil state.
This brings us nicely to Abu Hamed, who is the ‘wrong’ type of liberal because he was previously in Mubarak’s parliament.
He decided to take to the streets on the 24th August and start fighting against the blatant hypocrisy and lies, coming from the MB government, but did the people support him? No, they left him and liberals even condemned him. Despite this and the disconcerting threats from a certain cleric who said it was OK to kill anti-Morsi protestors, he managed to get a few thousand out and actually reach the presidential palace. Yes let me repeat: it has reached the point where the MB camp is saying it;s religiously right to kill their opposition and we’re sitting around wondering if Abu Hamed has any legitimacy in his ideologies.
In retrospect, this seems absolutely ridiculous. On what premise are we saying this person does not deserve our support? Unfortunately, it’s on the premise that January 25th was the be all and end all of all human morality. It is time to face the fact that January 25th is over, the MB are in charge and it’s likely that the very things that were fought for in early 2011 are disappearing before our eyes.
What is the step forward? Well, the revolutionaries need to start reaching out to the millions of people who didn’t vote for Morsi and probably listen to Okasha – they are not bad people, they are scared and revolutionaries keep marginalising them. They’ve put the Okasha-ians in the dog house, dismissing their voices and calling them traitors. To make things worse, the MB are working at splitting up those who are really calling for a civil state using the term felool, branding anyone who opposes them with them with this dirty word. Worse still, the liberals are still using this word too and it’s more dangerous than we realise – it’s pushing the different liberal factions even further apart.
What has to happen for true development to occur is the joining forces of the various liberal fronts. And it will happen – liberal parties will eventually realise that only when united do they stand a chance. The question that remains is how quickly people can be cured of their January 25th Syndrome and support anyone who wants a civil state, even if their names end in –fik.