As a foreigner living in Egypt, and because of my political experience starting 55 years ago against the Baghdad Pact and in support of the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, I observe, endure and write articles on the Egyptian revolution and Egyptian political events, strategies and ideas. At the same time, I do not participate in any political activity. I think it is the Egyptians who should decide their affairs and that there is in Egypt a mature national movement, which needs no outside intervention. So I am, by definition, in the Kanaba Party (the silent majority). If I were Egyptian I would be its leader or a member of its leadership, or at least, one of its supporters.
I know that liberals, Marxists and Islamists scorn Kanaba Party members, thinking they are an unconscious, anti-revolutionary people who need to be guided by their respective elites. My answer is no, they are the revolution. In their reactions are materialised the revolutionary collective reasoning which guide the democratic peaceful Egyptian revolution. During the days of the revolution it is the Kanaba Party, in every town and village, who made the revolution victorious. And it is Kanaba Party members that made the elections successful by voting massively. In the current violent events, the members of the party express indignation at the scenes of violence committed by the soldiers, the police and the baltagia (thugs), and at the same time they don’t participate in any action that could make this violence escalate.
There have been declarations that the violence was planned by some groups to deform the image of the military and even to condemn Egypt in international instances. We think that attacking soldiers and burning official buildings should be prevented, condemned and punished, but at the same time we think that the physical and moral integrity and dignity of citizens —especially women —should be guaranteed by the soldiers and state institutions. This was not the case during the latest clashes. The Egyptian army is the army of the people and one of the pillars of the Egyptian state. Not only should the state prevent its soldiers from damaging its image, but also take all measures, including punishment, against uncontrolled elements, to keep the respect and the love the army enjoys among the population. The institutions of the state should have a cultural revolution and apply international human rights standards in their treatment of citizens. The enemies of Egypt will try in every way to damage the army’s relationship with the people, knowing that in the absence of elected legitimate organs of the state, it is the army that guarantees the unity and continuity of the state.
The democratic revolution in Egypt shouldn’t mean only free elections of representatives. Elections could only be completely free if alongside personal and individual liberties, the liberty of opinion, expression, association, local government, debate, demonstrations, strikes, and organisation are equally guaranteed to all people. They are means of civil control and dialogue. The new democratic Egyptian state should consider these liberties a necessity and an enrichment of the transparent control, dialogue and efficiency of political, economical and social public affairs, and the work of the state.
Our party does not follow the avant-gardes’ political groups with their abstract theories and subjective motivations, but at the same time we look at them with tenderness and respect, except when they put the interests of Egypt in danger. Sometimes we support them. Sometimes we don’t. This way, Kanaba Party members form the biggest floating electoral force.
The avant-gardes think that the people should be educated to understand their programme. The Kanaba Party has its own programme based on common sense and collective reason, which is formed by Egypt’s thousands of years of successive generations. For example, our party members didn’t participate much in the scholastic discussions on the second article of the constitution. Whether the second article is kept or lifted will not change the Arab Muslim character of Egypt, because this character is a cultural appurtenance and a geopolitical reality. It does not contradict the other reality, which is that our political system, as in all modern states, is based on citizenship. No wonder that all accepted the Al-Azhar document. This does not contradict with openness to the world’s progressive ideas and culture. We were and will continue to be open to the world. The interaction of trade, interests and cultures forces us to be so. Since Mohamed Ali, all our regimes were open to European culture despite our refusal of their colonialism, imperialism and Zionism. We are open to the world but we have the right and the capacity of building an independent Egypt.
We looked with joy and hope as we realised the change, pacifically. Some of the youth think that Egypt’s revolution should be a certified copy of European revolutions, like the French Revolution of 1789 or that in October 1917. This does not attract us, we members of the Kanaba Party. Most of us don’t know what they are. Those of us who are informed consider that the violence engendered by these revolutions should not be imitated, and that imitating it in Egypt would destroy Egypt for generations. A genuine revolution in the 21st century is the most pacific possible and depends on the force of masses, through law and democracy. It is the road of Egypt into the 21st century’s progress and culture. The collective reason formed during the 18 days following 25 January cannot be formed artificially by violence or abstracted cries. Those who try to form it artificially hurt Egypt and themselves. We will observe if the revolutionary progressives can mobilise people without using unnecessary violence, creating irremediable divisions and conflicts. If they succeed, we will salute them. As for us, we hope that SCAF’s roadmap for the transitional period will be achieved faithfully, loyally and pacifically. The support of the people for this roadmap and the sincerity in its realisation will bring stability and improve Egypt’s performance in the economic domain. If there should be a change in this roadmap, it should be done through dialogue and pacific actions, not through violent clashes.
For a long time the Islamists refused elections and democracy. They preferred to preach or encourage jihad. Since 25 January they’ve changed their ideas. They accepted elections. This is good for Egypt. We hope they continue to preach on individual matters and refrain from imposing, by law, their ideas on society in this domain. In our modern time, abusing international standards of individual and public liberties are red lines for any political group.
For the Kanaba Party, as we see in the multiple demands and actions of the population, the enemy is not only corruption and repression, it is also the poverty and impoverishment engendered by corruption and repression. Most of us present ideas on how to make life better for Egyptians and build a strong economy for Egypt. But as we are the Kanaba Party and as we don’t participate in the struggle for power, we discuss these ideas everywhere, and keep our eyes open regarding political elites to discover who will be best to put our ideas into practice. We are the biggest floating electoral force. We love Egypt and the citizens of Egypt. Our hearts are full of enthusiasm for liberty, democracy, social justice and an independent shining Egypt.
The writer is an Iraqi political analyst.