In the evening of the “Friday of Cleansing” at Omar Bin Al-Khattab Mosque in Tahrir Square, as soon as the imam ended the night prayers, one among the congregation began urging worshippers to support those he called the revolutionary officers who joined the masses to demand the cleansing of the army and other institutions. He called on honest Egyptians to protest in the square with their brethren sitting outside, in order for the demands of the revolution to be met and the country be cleansed of all those who are corrupt.
The speaker was a young bearded man in his late 20s who did not respect the sanctity of the mosque or that there were still worshippers finishing their prayers. The imam interceded and asked the young man to exercise decorum inside the mosque, and while he supported freedom of expression it should be exercised outside the mosque. Several in the congregation also interceded and called for calm but loud quarrels ensued for a while. This incident would not have occurred if it wasn’t for a general feeling of anger and revolt on the one hand, and an urge to exact revenge and quickly settle scores on the other, without a care for the law or that steps must be proper and according to recognised procedures in order for them to be respected domestically and abroad.
This incident, and many like it, also demonstrated the ills of blending religion and politics, which some are doing, taking opportunity of the atmosphere of the revolution. Those who went to the mosque to pray suddenly found themselves amid a political debate that has nothing to do with the mosque, its venerability, or its teachings, which everyone learns in childhood. They found themselves described as dishonourable and unpatriotic because they might not join the strike that this revolutionary youth called for.
They were also witness to a strange and fabricated tale that they must support a group of men wearing army uniforms who are guardians of cleansing the Egyptian army. These are the ones of whom some at least were proven to have left the service because they breached the regulations of the Egyptian army. And now, they are keen on appearing in the media and taking revenge on the country as a whole, and nothing more. It is strange that there are those who call this group “revolutionaries”, and urge for their support instead of a firm reprimand.
The call for cleansing that was raised in Tahrir Square, correctly demanding the speedy prosecution of the corrupt elements of the former Mubarak regime, should go beyond those who corrupted the homeland in the Mubarak era. It should also include anyone who dares to undermine the security of the country, insult its army and stir up strife that will destroy Egypt as a whole. If we hold symbolic popular trials while we wait for the official trials of the symbols of corruption, we should also move quickly to try those who want to sabotage the country and drown it in anarchy. Also, anyone who wants to keep the rewards of revolution to themselves and withhold them from all Egyptians.
Although I was witness to the incident on the Friday of Cleansing, I still don’t understand very well the timing and motives of the revolutionaries who want to make the army appear as if it were a disunited institution. They imply that a coup may be in the works led by officers and leaders, or that things are not as stable and perhaps a rebellion is underway by mid-rank officers. They also claim that the army and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) do not want to implement the demands of the revolution of the Egyptian people, or suggest that SCAF has a hidden agenda that serves the counter-revolution.
I am unsure why some revolutionaries insist on portraying the army as a stumbling block on the path of their personal revolutionary agenda, and if it does not respond according to their deadlines it becomes a legitimate target of attack, its role suspected, while demands to question its leadership are made.
I am unclear about the statements by some young leaders of the revolution asserting that SCAF, as the current ruler of the country, is subject to criticism and questioning. I also don’t understand why some say that they hold the army in high esteem, that it is untouchable and that they object to any strife or dispute between the army and the people, but then they add that the senior leadership of the army should be questioned. There are also strange and obscure statements made about what they claim as a conspiracy by the prosecutor general, although everyone agrees he is carrying out his duties to the fullest and in the name of justice, a free country and effective law enforcement.
There are many questions, inconsistencies and contradictions that make matters worse, and that push Egyptians further into uncertainty and harmful tedium. I don’t think the Egyptian people will agree to allow their revolution to usher in mayhem, loss of hope, or the evaporation of their dream of freedom and dignity. The dilemma or danger lies in the fact that these acts are undertaken by some of the revolutionary forces, as if they were in cahoots with the counter-revolution whose motives are well known, and that aim to undermine what has been achieved —namely, the strong bond between the army and the people, which was a critical factor behind the success of the revolution.
In an attempt to answer some of the above questions, one can think of only one answer with multiple dimensions. Namely, that some revolutionary forces want to become the keepers of the entire nation outside a democratic process. In other words, to exercise power over the country in the same way that President Mubarak and his agencies were in control of the whole country. It is as if the people of Egypt revolted to change mere individuals, not to establish a new regime under which they can exercise freedom and dignity without guardianship or oppression by one group or another.
These forces are once again trying to overlook the results of the referendum that showed that the large majority of Egyptians support the roadmap outlined by SCAF to move from the current interim phase into civic rule, which is elected honestly and transparently. These forces may also want to punish the Egyptian army because of its remarkable role in securing a popular referendum that was the most honest in the history of modern Egypt. Third, they want to maintain the environment of upheaval and tension in the country, without clear political or economic horizons until they alone can usurp power to implement their vision, which they believe is superior to any other and more righteous than the others. Fourth, they want to create a vacuum by pushing the army to either take a sudden and quick decision to return to its barracks and leave the arena to those with the loudest voice, or that the army would voluntarily ask these forces specifically to take over the reins of power during the interim period and beyond.
If these theories were true, then we are at the midpoint of transforming the revolution into mayhem, which could help these forces to take charge without going through legitimate steps and against the will of the majority of the Egyptian people.
One of the most important slogans that the Egyptian people spontaneously raised was “the army and the people are one”, which is a genius phrase that demonstrates genuine popular awareness that the army is part of the people, and that it only serves the interests of the country and its citizens. I cannot imagine that this people, who know their history and rights and believe that Egypt cannot rise again without a political authority that is of and by the people, would easily abandon their brave military. Nor will they jeopardise the security of the country or become embroiled in the quandaries taking place in other Arab states.
The Egyptians want Egypt to be neither Libya, which is fighting amongst itself, nor Yemen, which is divided into two camps battling each other.