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Egypt in a state of turmoil
Instead of mobilising against Morsi's ouster, the Brotherhood should be examining its mistakes over the last year, and looking to change its leadership
Ibrahim El-Houdaiby , Monday 15 Jul 2013
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(They are) distracted in mind even in the midst of it ― being (sincerely) for neither one group nor for another. (Al-Nisa, 143).

Oh Allah, show us truth and grant us the will to follow it.

Morsi's legitimacy was compromised before the army's intervention. It fell when millions took to the streets to demand his departure and to call for early presidential elections. Morsi could have, no he rather should have, taken the initiative before 30 June, to call for a referendum or early presidential elections, when it became clear that the protests would feature millions, and then he had another chance after the massive protests.

Yet he was adamant not to do so, so he was, intentionally or unintentionally, the reason behind giving Egyptians a choice between two evils, military intervention or civil war. This does not rid those who incited violence in their speeches of responsibility, yet Morsi, due to his position, was the only man capable of a solution.

We cannot deny the presence of millions who support Morsi, but we must note first of all that the number of opponents was larger, and secondly, the protest of millions was in itself a sign of the deep crisis. The reaction to it was not at all appropriate; in fact it was neglected, which was made clear in Morsi's attachment, to the last minute, to staying in power without proposing a referendum for example, and his attachment to keeping Hisham Qandil's government in place, which everyone ridiculed and wanted to change, including the Freedom and Justice Party.

Based on all that, demanding that he be reinstated is a meaningless ploy, and demanding a national referendum is now too late for it has become an impossible scenario as the moment has long since passed. The mobilisation of protesters by Muslim Brotherhood leaders on such grounds is careless and reckless, as they are raising the bar of expectations to the impossible, and they are stealing the spotlight away from the main scenario, which is the protest of millions of citizens who reject Morsi and demand his ouster.

And regardless of the debate over whether this was a military coup or not, the truth is that it happened against a backdrop of a major public movement, and Morsi alone was able to spare the political scene from direct intervention by the army by calling for a referendum or elections, yet he, as previously mentioned, decided not to do so.

And as for the Brotherhood leaders, it's either they realise the impossibility of his return or not, and if the latter, then they, along with their base, should re-evaluate the situation and face the facts, rather than pushing for a path that only leads to blood and does not yield any gains so spilled blood is stripped of its value.

The blood of the slain will, in that case, be on the hands of those who preferred action over thought, the quest over consciousness, and movement over awareness. And if they do realise that it is a dead end, then they need to be frank with their human bases about it, because it does not show integrity to push them towards, God forbid, bloodshed without being aware of the reason behind it.

If this escalation was meant to improve the conditions of negotiations between the Brotherhood and their opponents -which is the most likely scenario in my view- then that should be clarified, along with the object of negotiations, and whether it is related to shielding particular individuals from being questioned by law, or securing the political scene, or securing the presence of the Brotherhood. 

And it is not right to push people towards death by convincing them that they do so in defence of religion or the Islamist project; the point is that what we are experiencing is a purely political struggle. For during the year he was in power, Morsi could not have been accused or was not caught in the act of issuing any law or producing any policy that could be described as Islamic (and what is meant by Islamic here is what sharia specifically commanded or forbade, not what enters the real of the permissible.)

What was proven was that the licences of nightclubs were extended by three hours, and relations with the US were strengthened, and the Israeli embassy held its status quo, and therefore, what drove people to the streets was not Morsi's Islamism, which would have rendered defending him a way of defending Islamism, but rather his mismanagement. All the factors that his supporters will claim to be a conspiracy (the ministry of interior, the army, the media, the lack of bureaucratic cooperation, etc.) fall under this category, and he is responsible for it.

Countless people had advised him to deal with the situation, yet he did not respond, and his backers said that he knew what he was doing, and accused those who asked him to do so of a lack of wisdom. This is not a time to reproach anyone, and gloating shows bad manners, so it is not necessary to dig deeper into this point.

There is nothing more dangerous to this country than to slip into violence and bloodshed and civil war, and to stop that is the responsibility of everyone. I hope it is not too late now, and that "reconciliation" is not a prerequisite for putting an end to bloodshed, for it is impossible.

Our differences will endure, and in fact, political struggles will increase, yet we must ensure that it does not lead to civil war, and that is first and foremost through taking a firm stand against incitement of violence. And if Islamic channels were taken off the air because they were, as backers of the decision have said, inciting violence and brewing hate, then they are not alone in doing so. There is a widespread media discourse on many channels inciting against Islamists and calling for their excision and eradication from society, and that does not represent freedom of opinion.

Rejecting the presence of any party in power is a right I do not debate, yet it is not anyone's right to object to "the existence" of a large and prominent faction in society. It is your right to choose who rules you, yet not who can coexist with you in society, and the difference between both is significant.

Media personnel such as Youssef El-Husseiny and Lamis El-Hadeedy and many of the retired generals and strategic experts clearly cross this line, and punishing such an enroachment is necessary at any time, and it is more necessary now. The interim president could issue laws to that effect, and it is the responsibility of state institutions to carry them out on all fronts, and not to make exceptions for one person or another.

Opposing the Brotherhood and working towards toppling Morsi does not mean accepting Mubarak's state, and does not mean "a revolution on a revolution," as Abdel Monein Said tried to posit; a large part of this movement was continuing what happened in 2011, and it has the same demands for bread, freedom and social justice.

It rejects the militarisation of the state and the staggering growth in income disparities, while some people, -including Abdel Moneim Said, Tawfik Okasha and Lamees El Hadeedy, among others from the National Democratic Party's Policy Committee- are indeed driven by the concept of a revolution on a revolution, and working to revive Mubarak's regime, and despite that they are more powerful. They are aided by the stance of the Brotherhood (whether, when they were in power, by letting the remnants of the old regime into the administration, or, after they were ousted, by taking stances that justify the militarisation of the state and nurture that discourse.)

And such actions by the Brotherhood do not only harm them, but also harms all societal and political factions that reject the oppressive tyrannical state, and therefore they need to readjust their compass, so that their battle becomes not Morsi's return (which is a flawed fight as previously mentioned) but rather defending the scope of political and social freedom that was achieved over the past two years.

By doing so, they would benefit by guaranteeing that they continue to exist and not be oppressed, and we would all benefit from stopping the discourse of an oppressive state once again. The responsibility here does not lay solely on the Brotherhood, but this tyrannical narrative should be marginalised by all other factions, and with it the exclusionary tone. The pursuit for national reconciliation should be serious, not a reenactment of mock committees.

I would like to ask the Brotherhood to meditate for a while on the current scenario by taking a step backwards: what will they gain by this escalation? Is there a chance for Morsi's reinstatement? And if we compromise and assume that he could return, is it conceivable that he could carry out his presidential duties after everything that has happened? I imagine, and only God knows, that the Brotherhood are in need of immediate rational reassessment. I am aware of how difficult that would be, particularly in the current moment. I am also aware of the moment's emotional turmoil.

I believe that they must first end the escalation, and second, carry out an assessment and evaluation of the previous period, starting with an evaluation of the benefit of the "Islamist project" (with my reservations about that term) from their progression to political power, so that they can pinpoint the mistakes. It would be extremely dangerous for them and for others to carry on blaming everything on conspiracies.

Thirdly, the Brotherhood need to renew their leadership, which is a natural process after major milestones. It has been delayed many times since the revolution, so that in fact the Brotherhood leadership seems to be the only thing in the country that was not touched by real change in the past few years; Al-Azhar, the Church, the military, the presidency, the police, all the ministries and major political parties all saw turnover at the top, but not the Brotherhood.

There are other steps that I see as necessary, but now is not the time to go into that level of detail.

The current state of turmoil reaffirms once again the crisis in Egypt of the lack of political leaders that are able to manage, negotiate and handle the situation and the masses, and that is a result of the state’s monopolisation over the production of political leaders since approximately 150 years ago, which is a highly unusual situation.

The political leaders in Egypt in this period were all manufactured by the bureaucrats and the army, not society, and the remedy to this problem is through paying attention to unions and civil society, then the parliamentary arena, for through such platforms, qualified and credible political leaders could emerge. I believe that neglecting this has led us to this point, and any further delay could have dire consequences.





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