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Devoured the day the white bull was eaten

Unity and national strength is in a state of all its citizens; destruction and catastrophe is in division

Taha Abdel Alim , Saturday 12 May 2012
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During the presidential elections, formation of the Constituent Assembly and drafting of the constitution the slogan “citizenship is the solution” should be the compass to lead the way to build a new order, if we want to achieve what we aspire for and what the esteemed Egyptian nation deserves and is capable of. By that, I mean freedom, justice, equality, human dignity, patriotism, comprehensive progress, security of the citizen and nation, and other rights of citizenship that were neglected and hence led to the January 25 Revolution. Also, in defence of the “state of citizenship,” a country for all citizens without discrimination, exclusion, marginalisation or exemption. We should heed the moral of the story about the three bulls that concludes with the line: “I was devoured the day the white bull was eaten.”

The story is about three bulls, a white one, a red one and a black one, who lived peacefully in the jungle and who stood up to the threats of a lion through the strength of their unity. One day, the lion went to the red and black bulls and said: “The white bull is attracting the attention of jungle beasts, let me eat him so that you can live in peace.” And they agreed to his crime. A while later, the lion whispered to the black bull: “I intend to eat the red bull, and leave you to enjoy the plains by yourself.” Once again, the black bull agreed to the crime. When only the black bull was left, the lion talked to him honestly: “It is now your turn to be devoured.” The black bull surrendered and said: “I was devoured the day the white bull was eaten.”

I believe the three main diverging forces in the January 25 Revolution have not learnt this lesson in managing their objective and subjective differences which emerged at the beginning of the transitional phase. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies have interchangeably played the roles of the lion and the red and black bulls, while revolutionary and civil forces could — at least theoretically — play the role of the lion, although so far they look like they are in the shoes of the red and white bulls.

The bitter outcome resulting from these influential forces not learning the lesson of “I was devoured when the white bull was eaten” is that the country has paid a high price, as the gap between words and actions grows wider, and lust for dominance prevails over the spirit of cooperation. Meanwhile, the distinction between the central goal and secondary targets has become blurred.

Neither did SCAF learn the lesson, in that it cannot run the country using the same tools as those of the regime that the nation revolted against. The nation will not accept being managed in the same manner as in the past. SCAF thought that the revolution was over when Mubarak’s regime evaporated along with the succession plan, and the gap grew between its declaration of supporting the revolution and seeking to bury it alive by playing the role of the lion.

Despite the feat of thwarting the succession scenario, deposing the president and preventing the state from total collapse, SCAF sought to break the will of the “revolutionary youth,” and thus the white bull was devoured. Then it betrayed them and the rest of the forces who demanded a constitution first to safeguard the civil nature of the state, and thus the red bull was devoured through a “tactical” alliance with the black bull represented by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies who are calling for a state of jurists and a caliphate. This was the subject of the constitutional amendments and the referendum, while SCAF also accepted the establishment of parties based on religion and allowing the use of religious slogans and houses of worship in electoral campaigns during the parliamentary elections.

But once the Muslim Brotherhood took control of parliament, through dominance not partnership as they had purported, they believed themselves to be the “lions” of the jungle. They broke their promise and nominated Al-Shater for president and chanted for the overthrow of “military rule," which exposed their lust for power, and their aim — along with their allies — to establish a state of jurists and religious caliphate.

Perhaps the MB prompted the possible scepter of being “devoured” itself through dissolving parliament based on a ruling by the constitutional court, to block the group’s attempt to hijack the power of forming a government first from SCAF then the president. It forged ahead without caution to try and hijack the constitution, legislative and executive powers, and later it will come the turn of the judiciary, media and economy. Meanwhile, the back-up candidate Morsi has once again raised the banner of ‘Islam is the solution’, and once again the MB is using the ploy of making people believe they are choosing between religion and apostasy. Or that the vote will either be for Islam or for the opponents of Islam.

Despite what the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to cover up by talking about “a modern democratic national civilian state,” Al-Shater has indicated that the Brotherhood is steadfast about establishing a “state of jurists” by calling for the creation of a group of “people who resolve and ordain” and who would be above all other constitutional or elected authorities, and even above the constitution itself. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood's supreme guide has constantly asserted that his responsibilities as the “Muslim Brotherhood Caliph” are beyond the mandate of “Egypt’s president," even though the potential president is exempt from pledging allegiance to the supreme guide.

Because the Muslim Brotherhood “lion” lost credibility, it was unable to form alliances with the civilian and revolutionary forces, the “white and red bull” respectively. These forces appear to have been wounded but not eliminated after the Muslim Brotherhood betrayed them when they played the role of the black bull.

This is how SCAF has taken the place of the “black bull” and had no choice but to try and revive civil and revolutionary forces. It denounced how the Muslim Brotherhood lion cornered the other bulls and deplored that SCAF was being targeted next. If the weakness of and undermining of civilian and revolutionary forces did not enable SCAF to win the first round in the battle of the composition of the Constituent Assembly and agreement on its principal foundation, these forces — despite their wounds from the conspiracy to devour them — succeeded in thwarting the hijacking of the Constituent Assembly by the Brotherhood “lion” and its allies.

Civil and revolutionary forces, the white and red bull, were always suspicious that SCAF (the current black bull) would once again become the lion. These forces, especially if they are controlled by “ideological” intellectual and political currents, if given the opportunity to play the role of the lion may not hesitate in acting in the same way. We should remember that in communism, Lenin hijacked a democratic revolution as soon as the Bolsheviks became a majority while Stalin eliminated his opponents in even clearer fashion.

In the case of liberalism, French revolutionary forces eliminated the monarchy then each other during the struggle for power between the Jacobins and Girondins, until Napoleon siezed the republic and established an empire of succession. In the US, the Democratic Party supported slavery under the pretext of “individual freedoms” while the Republicans continue to defend “racial discrimination” and discriminate against women under one of “the most liberal constitutions.”

In the case of “nationalist ideology” we should remember Hitler using “the will of the people” to hijack the power of the state in Germany, then proceeding to eliminate all forces of opposition and even appeasement, one after the next. In fact, despite differences, we should also remember that the July regime also eliminated liberal and communist forces, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and other forces who were labeled “enemies of the state” until all political life was nationalised, which made it easy for Sadat to monopolise “Nasserism”.

I conclude by saying that defending a “state of citizenship” — a country for all its citizens that does not discriminate, exclude, marginalise or undermine any of its citizens, forces or components, and one that raises the banner “citizenship is the solution” — is the duty of everyone who is keen on the safety and wellbeing of this nation, who seeks the unity and ascendance of this nation. Anyone who believes otherwise will regret it, when the day comes and he says: “I was devoured when the white bull was eaten.”

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