Sunday, July 31, 2011

Are We Looking At Egyptistan?

By Tariq Alhomayed

Last Friday in Egypt was a shock to the political forces that are calling for a civil state, including the youth and the liberals, after the Islamists took to the streets chanting slogans like “rule is for God”, “true democracy is the implementation of the people’s will”, and “the people want Shariaa law.”

One of the Egyptian youth activists said that Tahrir Square had become like Afghanistan [due to the Islamists protest], but the question here is: is this shock justified, and is the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces responsible for this situation? The answer is no, for the Islamists who came out to protest in Tahrir Square are Egyptians and they have the right to express their opinions, whether we like it or not, and we cannot exclude them, otherwise post-revolutionary Egypt is no different than Egypt under the Mubarak regime, for it will be the ballot boxes that ultimately decide who comes to power. However if the [Egyptian] youth and liberals continue their [political] isolation, and their unrealistic dreaming, then they will not receive any help from the ballot boxes. This is something that those calling for a civil state in Egypt are ignoring, and their shock at the Islamists protesting in this manner represents a shock in itself, particularly as all those monitoring the situation in Egypt had been expecting this since the collapse of the Mubarak regime, especially when the youth and liberals have devoted themselves to [political] squabbling rather than organizing themselves and working on the ground in a realistic manner.

It is not acceptable for the youth and liberals to attack the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and call on it to postpone [elections] until they can organize their political ranks against those who are already prepared for rule, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The facts on the ground say that the [Egyptian] youth and liberals have wasted many opportunity by not organizing themselves, and they have not tried to reconcile or reach an understanding with the military to move forward to build an Egyptian civil state. Rather the youth and liberals – along with an unrealistic media in Egypt today – have devoted themselves to confronting the military, which has only served to weaken their [political] ranks and presence. The best example of this is the ongoing criticism of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for the delay in bringing members of the former regime to trial, for in reality the [Egyptian] youth and liberals are not interested in bringing these figures to trial, but merely in condemning them. Therefore, they must first decide whether they are seeking revenge or revolution? For even with regards to members of the former regime who were proven innocent, these youth and liberals refuse to believe this, and it is as if they want to follow the path of “lay hold on him, then put a chain on him” [Surat al-Haaqqa, Verse30], and this is not to mention the tricks that others are seeking to play on them, including the Muslim Brotherhood, such as promoting the idea of a “counter-revolution” and more. All the while the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists have been working to strengthen their political position, without prevarication or wasting time.

If there is anyone to be blamed for the state that Egypt has reached following the revolution then it is the youth and liberals themselves, as well as the other civilian political forces, not the military. The military does deserve blame, but this is for other issues, including preventing foreign observers from overseeing the forthcoming elections, accusing some people of working for foreign powers, as well as their delay in decision-making. However all of these issues could have been resolved if the lines of communication between the Egyptian youth and liberals and the military were open, and if the [Egyptian] youth and liberals made realistic demands, rather than impossible ones. This is what I said in my 18 July 2011 article entitled “Egypt’s liberals are like Iraq’s Sunnis”, and this is something that was confirmed by the Islamists protests on Friday; this showed that Egypt’s youth and liberals have devoted themselves to political squabbling, whilst the Islamists have focused on strengthening their [political] position.
Will the [Egyptian] political forces – particularly the youth and liberals – wake up from their delusions today, learn from the Islamists Friday protest, and return to reality, or will they continue to waste these historic opportunities to build a democratic Egypt? For what happened last Friday does not require us to be shocked, so much as it reveals the necessity of the Egyptian youth and liberals taking immediate and rational action to organize their ranks, and move towards genuine political action, rather than wistful slogans.

-This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on31/07/2011
-Tariq Alhomayed is the editor-in-chief of Ashar al-Awsat

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