Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Perplexity Of Egyptian Citizens
By Mohammad Salah
The July 1952 Revolution in Egypt did not settle down until about four years later, four years during which conflicts were taking place, sometimes between the Free Officers themselves, and at other times between them and other groups in society, despite the fact that the revolution, which some consider to have been a coup d’état, was carried out by the army itself with the support of the people. The situation today in Egypt is that the people have carried out a revolution with the support of the army. Nevertheless, the same thing is being repeated, but with different aspects. There are no conflicts within the army, which has taken charge of managing the country during the transitional period, and yet conflicts are becoming increasingly heated day after day between the forces that affiliate themselves with the Revolution. The majority of Egyptians thus find themselves in an extremely difficult position. Indeed, they suffered throughout Mubarak’s rule and revolted against him in the end. Had it not been for their boldness, their sacrifices and their martyrs, the regime would not have fallen. They have waited for the “fruits” of the Revolution for the past five months, and some of them believe that they have not gained anything from it so far. They see a minority of professional politicians who have leapt to the forefront and have “ridden” the Revolution, and who now speak in its name and consider themselves to be the people’s representatives. The difficult position is not just limited to the gains that were not achieved and the positive aspects that never came, but is also due to the fact that the majority of Egyptians who overthrew the regime and were against it are dissatisfied with the current post-Revolutionary situation. And inasmuch as some professional politicians have taken to bartering with the people and speaking in their name, the people have found that limitations have been set down to criticizing the current state of affairs, complaining of the situation as it stands, or declaring one’s fear of what is coming. This is to such a degree that those who complain are considered to be supporters of the former regime, those who declare their refusal to engage in the battle over whether to complete the constitution or hold the elections first are considered members of the “gangs” of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP), and those who proclaim that they had hated the Mubarak regime and now hate the situation the country is in today are labeled “opportunists” who care only about their own interests and not those of the country. Thus ordinary Egyptian citizens find themselves becoming instruments which numerous sides seek to exploit and trade in, while all they seek is a decent life and all they hope for is for the Revolution’s slogan of “bread, freedom and social justice” to find its way to being implemented. If they consider that the country at this stage needs stability and calm, they are accused of being Islamist, Salafist, reactionary or agents of the former regime. And if they consider that the Revolution should be completed quickly and that pressures should be escalated to complete the prosecution of the former regime’s most prominent figures, strike against other major figures of corruption, and complete building up state institutions, and the constitution first and foremost, they are accused of being against stability, secular agents of the West, Leftist agents of the East or loyalists of the former regime!
Egyptian citizens find it strange to find an opinion poll about the popularity of potential candidates to the presidency conducted by the Military Council on its Facebook page, because they believe that the Military Council should distance itself from taking any step that could be understood as siding with any presidential candidate, or with any political party or force struggling for power – exactly as they previously had found strange a statement by a member of the Council in which he considered that the result of the referendum on constitutional amendments represented a victory for the Military Council! That is because the Council is not party to the political game, but rather running the country temporarily. A similar cause for wonder is the contradiction in dealing with the media, every time a newspaper fabricates a story or a report, or a television show speaks of false information as if it were reality, and at the same time raising uproar in objecting to demands of investigating “fabricators” and those who promote lies! Citizens are also amazed by the smear campaign directed at all those who announce their candidacy to wage the competition over the presidential seat, especially as they see that those doing the smearing come from every political movement, as if the presidential elections would be won by the candidate whose supporters manage to direct the greatest possible amount of abuse at his competitors! Citizens are thus astonished, and they laugh sarcastically at the fact that trial hearings are being held for the former Interior Minister, his senior aides and a number of officers on charges of killing protesters, without a single photographer being able to take a single picture of a single defendant to be published in the press – while pictures were published of other ministers, as well as of Alaa and Gamal Mubarak. And when one saw a protest crossing the Nile Corniche road and asked about it, he laughed when he was told that those were poultry traders protesting against measures aimed at protecting society from the spread of the bird flu (H5N1), and said to himself: all that remains is for drug dealers to protest against the criminalization of trading in narcotics!
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 27/06/2011