At moments of general uncertainty, urban legends spread like wildfire giving rise to tales of the awaited prophet, the mighty warrior and visions of the righteous. Some of these legends conceal a collective failure while others reveal a lack of understanding, but they still remain a form of collective therapy that communities resort to at times of difficulty.
This is found in the heritage of all peoples in the world, including us. One imagines that after advances in science and growing transparency, it is only natural that such legends would diminish and reason would prevail. However, the situation in Egypt reveals that some of us have not gone beyond the mindset of legend. We saw this during the three-day presidential elections when whims trounced facts and sensationalism overtook enlightenment and persuasion, while exaggeration was paramount.
One of the most popular urban legends relates to a clique of the defunct National Democratic Party (NDP). Suddenly, many decided this clique was the reason behind what they described as low voter turnout during the presidential race and the lack of mass mobilisation. They described it as the betrayal of the field marshal (Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi). Others reasoned that this clique — whose numbers are unclear — did not support the field marshal because he did not agree to their demands of ending their exclusion from politics in return for their support. Accordingly, they procrastinated in their support, which created a very embarrassing situation both abroad and at home.
There are 92 political parties in Egypt, some of which are well known but the majority are unidentifiable and rootless. But analysts who described a poor voter turnout did not look at these parties or blame them for the low numbers. They looked at the NDP clique and its ability to both mobilise and undermine the elections. To me, this discovery is political absurdity and a great insult to El-Sisi and the Egyptian people, especially those who decided to participate in the process and freely gave him their vote. More than 23 million voters of all ages and directions believe the field marshal is the best man for the job at this stage, saviour of the country and leader who can be relied on and trusted. So, where is this low voter turnout?
I believe these analyses are flawed because no matter the numbers of the NDP clique they are powerless; they are not organised, or supported by any state institution that gives them influence like in the past. There is no strong president giving them overwhelming power and influence. They are targets of endless, fierce media campaigns and if they have anything at all, it would be some blood relatives who in turn are not much of a contingent compared to the masses of Egyptians. So how can this handful betray a man they disagree with on principle? Even if there are rumours that some of them tried to support the field marshal on a grassroots level in return for privileges later, these are no more than tall tales and hearsay, or at best attempts by people who lost their thunder and are looking for personal gains. All in all, these men did not benefit from anything and El-Sisi did not lose anything. What is unusual is that loud voices are demanding he removes the NDP clique from his circle and not reproduce the Mubarak regime.
The legend of the NDP clique and their alleged betrayal of the winning candidate runs parallel to notions by the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group that still sees something the entire Egyptian people cannot glean. An unprecedented 24 million Egyptians cast their ballots in one of the most transparent, honest and unbiased elections in history, but the alliance of terrorism and treachery claims Egyptians boycotted the elections and are waiting for their ousted president to return. This all-consuming delusion in the minds of members of this group, which expresses itself in the form of terrorist and sabotage operations and killing innocents, is a challenge for the group itself and society as a whole. It is similar to a family with a terminally ill member or a troublesome son: What to do about it? Should the family ignore the sickly member or throw out the misbehaved son, or wait until he outgrows the phase or seeks treatment for the condition?
Of course, Egypt and its institutions will not throw out its sons if they want to reform themselves and help themselves at a time when society is extending its hand and opening the doors of hope and forgiveness to them. However, signs before and after the presidential race all point in one direction: more blurred vision, intransigence and urge for revenge. We have not seen any signs of revision or self-criticism, or drawing closer to the masses who have the final word, or respect for the will of the people who chose a president they love and trust and not someone who was ousted and is behind bars for his crimes against the nation and all the people.
We still see a secret organisation operating in the shadows, targeting the state, institutions, infrastructure and even the people, opening their arms to funds from abroad to undermine the domestic scene. They wait for plans and instructions and carry them out with pleasure. It is a secret organisation that is a bigger threat to Egypt and its new era than the NDP clique. The irony is the NDP who are ostracised from politics did not resort to violence or form militias or receive funds from abroad. Their counterparts in the Muslim Brotherhood, which the judiciary decreed as terrorist, dissolved it and labeled its members as terrorists, still enjoy the existence of a political party that was not disbanded, that can still manoeuvre and participate in upcoming parliamentary elections.
There are calls for conciliation with them, even before they apologise to all Egyptians and sever their overseas ties which are tantamount to being foreign agents and engaging in outright treason. Medically, when ailments are beyond cure amputation is the only solution. For a big-hearted nation, there is still a chance for those who use their heads, listen to their conscience and repent for the phase of delirium and disorientation that took control of them and threw them off balance. This may be the last chance to end operating in the dark and come out into the open, abide by the law and constitution, and end all conspiratorial links overseas.