Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Egypt’s Revolution… And The Revolution Of Doubt

By Mohammad Salah
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 23/05/2011

The former regime in Egypt sowed doubt in the hearts of Egyptians, making them suspect every decision, not believe any official and have apprehensions over every measure taken. They used to hear and read talk of a flourishing economy while the poverty rate increased, of advanced learning while ignorance afflicted the country, of outstanding culture while mediocrity prevailed in the land, of a high growth rate while people fought in front of bakeries or stood in long queues to get hold of a gas cylinder, of job opportunities that find no one to fill them while young men drowned on the shores of the Mediterranean looking for work they could not find back home, of the social roles played by businessmen while they saw state-owned lands being divided among ministers and distributed to “protégés”, of a democratic system and of alternation of power while the President remained in place for thirty years and his son prepared to replace him, and of freedom they enjoyed while tens of thousands were under administrative arrest without trial.

It is therefore only natural for a generation or even generations to emerge who do not believe everything that is said, especially as the revolution exposed the size of the lies and deception, and clarified the extent to which some members of the opposition for example played defined roles, as well as the fact that the media, which was terrible and may have become even worse now, had been mobilized to embellish a repulsive picture, to polish blacked-out faces and to spread lies which even those working in the media did not believe. All of this explains the shedding of doubt that is not stopping today, not just among parties active in the political process, but also among ordinary citizens, in addition of course to the doubt shed on one another by all of the political forces that have arisen on the scene after the revolution. The state media has nearly been removed from the equation, either because its leaders were brought up in a climate in which they became accustomed to promoting the lies of rulers or of their regimes, and were thus unable to cope with the new reality, or because they failed to “ride” the wave of the revolution and the situation it has imposed by virtue of the mental image citizens have of them. As for the private media, and despite a few exceptions, it has been dominated by chaos after the revolution, as it has become natural to strike at objectivity and professional standards, and to compete in inventing information and false tales and fabricating issues, in an effort to achieve wider distribution for newspapers or higher ratings for satellite television networks. Thus Egyptian citizens have come to be plunged every day into a sea of doubts.

Some doubts will be left for time to tell, as is the case regarding the intentions of army leaders. Indeed, despite their assertion that none of them is seeking after power and that the Military Council seeks to hand over power to a civilian government by the end of the year, there are those who do not believe it and think that a predetermined scenario will result in the army seizing power after promoting pretexts to the people to support taking such a direction. There are also doubts over the policies adopted by the Military Council and the decisions it has issued, as there are other doubts over the reasons for agreement and coordination between the army and some political forces, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite the fact that army leaders have denied this, some note that the Brotherhood has become the political group closest to the army and most supportive of the directions taken by the Military Council. There are doubts as well resulting from the contradiction between decisions and statements connected to decision-making, such as those that were issued by Finance Minister Samir Radwan about Egypt suffering from a dangerous economical situation, then his talk on the following day of a prosperous future for Egypt’s economy! Doubts reach their peak when it comes to the prosecution of the former President, members of his family and leaders of his regime. And with every administrative or judicial decision connected to the investigations or the trials, people become divided between those who are doubtful and those who hold a grudge, fabrications in the media increase, and people are unconvinced by the reasons put forward as pretexts for not holding trials for all leaders of the former regime on charges of political corruption, as long as the “games” and tricks of lawyers, and perhaps the lack of information and evidence, may lead the major figures of the regime who stand accused of financial corruption to be released one after the other. Yet some questions remains: if old age justifies not being subjected to precautionary imprisonment for example, then why were some of the former regime’s major figures detained in spite of their old age, while others were released, despite the fact that they all face the same charges? And if Mubarak’s health has stabilized, why has the decision not been taken to move him to prison? And if the government or the Military Council wish to keep him in the hospital throughout the period of investigation or even his trial, then why do they not declare it frankly? Yes, some doubts are due to the fact that the former regime remained in power for a long period of time, but most of them could be avoided if everyone would realize that a revolution has taken place and behave accordingly.

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