Revolutionary youth groups call for 'third path' amid SCAF and Brotherhood domination

Salma Shukrallah, Thursday 19 Apr 2012

Youth groups calling for mass protests Friday reject both the ruling military council and the majority force in parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood, calling for a renewal of the values of the January 25 Revolution

6 April
6 April (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

In a statement released Wednesday, 34 different political groups, mostly amongst the youth, condemned the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, blaming them for blocking the path of the revolution. While SCAF has been long the target of the revolutionary movement, the statement openly criticised the Brotherhood, a group that was initially considered part of the wider opposition movement.

The statement declared: "The Muslim Brotherhood bear part of the responsibility for weakening the revolution's momentum and diverting its path as they preferred their narrow party interests over that of the people," adding that the Brotherhood was responsible for creating consensus on the path SCAF chose for Egypt's transitional period and that worked to serve the interests of the ousted regime.

In related news, SCAF lately declared it may set back the roadmap established for handing over power to a civil body. Against what was approved in the March 2011 referendum, SCAF declared last week that the constitution should be drafted before presidential elections. The military council's suggestion came following a crisis where around a quarter of the Constituent Assembly tasked with writing a permanent constitution withdrew, complaining that Islamists were trying to dominate the process.

The call for drafting a constitution before elections was long adopted by revolutionary groups who demanded that a consensual constitution be drafted that set the parameters of parliamentary and presidential authorities before respective polling. Still, revolutionary youth groups insist that despite their rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood's attempts to dominate the drafting of the new constitution, SCAF's change of position is equally rejected.  

Activist Saly Toma from the National Front for Justice and Democracy explained: "Our proposed scenario was to have a constitution drafted before the elections and power handed over to a civil presidential council to guarantee there will be no SCAF interference either in the elections or in drafting the new constitution. This is not the SCAF's current proposal."

While blaming the Brotherhood for approving the Constitutional Declaration that allowed for electing a parliament with limited authorities, giving SCAF leeway to dominate, the Wednesday statement considered the military council's suggestion of drafting the constitution before presidential elections as only one attempt among many to delay the handing over of power to a civil body.

"The game should not be between the Brotherhood and the SCAF alone; we need to have a say. We think that a constitution before presidential elections means giving more time for SCAF to rule, while elections before the constitution means a president without authorities," added Toma.

The Wednesday statement proposed "a temporary president ... voted in to oversee the drafting of the new constitution. guaranteeing there will be no interference from the ruling military council."

Toma further explained the differences many of youth groups feel are opening between them and the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Toma, one of the main reasons for rejecting former regime remnants from running in the presidential race is that they uphold the old regime's values — mainly being market-oriented, a position shared among the Brotherhood's candidates.

Brotherhood leader and disqualified presidential candidate, Khairat El-Shater, is known to be a strong advocate of privatisation and the free market, and is believed to be a multi-millionaire. The Mubarak government, especially the policies proposed by the president's heir apparent, Gamal Mubarak, was subject to much criticism before the revolution based upon its advocacy of similar positions.  

Member of the Revolution Youth Coalition Khaled Teleima further claimed that the Brotherhood were never in harmony with the revolution's demands. "The Brotherhood were against Mubarak but not for the revolution," Teleima told Ahram Online. According to Teleima, the revolution upheld several ideals that the Brotherhood did not necessarily defend.

"The revolution arose against a police and military state, but the Brotherhood were mainly against Mubarak alone. This position was made clear when they abandoned the movement soon after the ouster of Mubarak," added Teleima.

In an article published by Youm7, Teliema complained that the Muslim Brotherhood stood silent concerning police and military brutality in clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in November 2011 and said nothing against Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri when he was first appointed by SCAF.

Member of the Popular Committees for the Defence of the Revolution Ahmed Ezzat, who believes there was for some time a deal between the Brotherhood and SCAF, told Ahram Online, "The movement that chose the different path from that dictated by SCAF was not as rooted as the Islamists who approved it. The goal of this movement now should be to build roots."

Similarly, Teleima argued that the youth movement should be working to build better connections outside the main cities of Cairo and Alexandria, and to invest more work in other governorates. The movement should also build a front and work on having spokespersons that can articulate its stances and demands, says Teleima.

The demands of the groups calling for mass demonstrations Friday against military rule and former regime remnants include that no constitution is drafted under military rule, that parliament issues a law that would hold accountable former regime figures and all those responsible for killing the revolution's martyrs, an immediate end to emergency law as well as the retrial in civil courts of all those who faced military courts, the cancelling of Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration that gives the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission immunity from appeal, and the cancelling the article of the Constitutional Declaration that gives the military council the authority to overrule laws issued by parliament.

Demands further include forming a Constituent Assembly equally representative of all factions of Egyptian society and whose members are chosen from outside parliament. The new Constituent Assembly would also uphold the ideals of the revolution, cherishing freedom and social justice and rejecting any military privileges or guardianship over the constitution.

The statement finally called on all political forces, especially the "majority political force" (the Muslim Brotherhood) as well as presidential candidates who are considered to be part of the revolution, to surpass "narrow interests" and stand united against the ruling military council.

Youth groups who signed the statement include the Coalition of Revolutionary Forces, the National Front for Justice and Democracy, the Popular Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, the Revolution Youth Coalition, the Free Salafist Youth Movement, the Justice and Freedom Youth Movement and the National Association for Change Youth, among several others.   

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