Two years of gridlock and the possibility of worse

Nader Fergany , Tuesday 5 Feb 2013

The second anniversary of the revolution is depressing, painful and pregnant with grave dangers

The second anniversary of the great people's revolution saw no serious signs of effective action to reach the goals of the revolution in terms of freedom, justice and human dignity. There has been no retribution for the martyrs and wounded of the first wave of the revolution, or against those who ruined the country for so many years.

Instead, evidence is accumulating that the corrupt authoritarian regime that the revolution overthrew is alive and well, but today is under the veil of superficial Islamism that is void of authentic virtuous religion.

It is no surprise that once again chants are growing for the ouster of the sitting president, his group and its guide, and 'the people demand the overthrow of the regime.' What are the reasons for this painful step backwards?

More importantly, if this is the consequence of a few months of Islamist rule, then the regime must undertake substantial reforms that redirect it to proper democratic governance. Otherwise, the crisis will intensify, battles will rage on and dangers will be exacerbated.

There is no single reason for this tragic situation; there are reasons from the past, but the most critical is the nature of the incumbent Islamist regime. One reason from the past, which everyone realises by now, is that the people's revolution did not overthrow the corrupt and tyrannical regime when the ousted tyrant stepped down and handed over power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in an illegal and unconstitutional move.

A more realistic scenario of what actually happened at the time is that the regime which the revolution rose up against severed its head to focus on destroying the revolution with a slow poison – instead of a fatal blow that would have brought serious repercussions against the regime, such as foreign intervention.

Revolutionaries on the street celebrated a victory – which time proved it was not – and instead old malicious cunning would triumph, even temporarily, over the innocence of revolutionaries who were misled by political naïveté.

They say those who prematurely celebrate victory during war are digging their own graves.

Drawing parallels with war is no exaggeration, since some revolution theorists believe the counter-revolution begins before the revolution itself, meaning that the regime prepares for a possible revolution before it actually occurs.

Indeed, some of the chaos that Mohamed Hosni Mubarak had threatened would happen if he departed was pre-planned by his regime's security agencies. The whole truth will not be revealed until authoritarian rule in Egypt comes to an end because it is too opaque, lacks transparency and openness.

Authoritarian rule married to corruption is highly profitable, and the battle between the people's revolution and hostile forces is no less violent than a fierce war.

Undoubtedly, military rule during the transitional phase – or as some eloquently call it, the revenge phase – spared no effort in hunting down revolutionaries, persecuting them, dividing their ranks and co-opting some of them.

During that period, shocking human rights violations occurred, such as barbaric virginity tests, violations against the dignity and modesty of female protestors, and even crushing protestors with armoured vehicles.

That period also witnessed the enabling of mobs to assault protestors under the pretext of the existence of an unidentified third party – which until today remains anonymous, although there were clues outside the Presidential Palace about who might be playing this cowardly role.

The truth is that remnants of the authoritarian regime were aided by some who claimed to belong to the revolution, or at least according to malicious rumours circulated by the regime in Tahrir Square. Their efforts only focused on supporting authoritarian rule, covering up or even embellishing its mistakes.

Perhaps the greatest sin was creating a flawed path to democratic transition, including holding presidential and parliamentary elections before a constitution. This sustains despotic rule, Islamic domination of both, and spoils the subsequent constitution-drafting process. We should not forget the role of the prime ministers appointed by SCAF, their deputies, ministers and advisers.

The revolution camp is also responsible; some young revolutionaries became arrogant, competitive and corrupted by the regime’s favouritism, others became tools in the hands of authoritarian rule.

While youth can be forgiven for their political innocence or naïveté, it is unforgiveable that some senior revolutionary figures became narcissistic and arrogant, causing the entire revolution camp to collapse during the presidential race. For example, if Sabbahi and Abul-Fotouh had listened to the Committee of 100 and merged into one presidential team, the people's revolution would have triumphed in the first round.

Today, the crux of Egypt's ongoing political tragedy is that the alliance focused on aborting the people's revolution has ushered political Islam into power. In the end, the deceptive, inciting, exclusionary actions of this authoritarian regime created the current tragic condition in Egypt on the second anniversary of the revolution.

Undoubtedly, all the rampant vices under Islamist rule contradict the values of virtuous Islam. Thus it is a flagrant mistake to describe the present political Islamist current as 'Islamic' because its behaviour and way of ruling contradicts with moderate Islam.

A clear example of deception by the Islamist regime is the president's declaration when he was given the draft constitution that it curbs the powers of the president, although it in fact gave the president autocratic powers. They are, however, less than the powers the president seized for himself through unilateral draconian decrees in the form of constitutional declarations, which he had no right issuing but did so nonetheless – as evidenced by the resignation of many of his advisers in protest.

They are nothing more than an opportunist political current that exploits Islam to seduce the simple folk and Islamic extremists.

It is an undemocratic regime that undermines the rule of law and judicial independence; usurps legislative powers; is empowered by its mobs that terrorise and suppress opposition; and would even sow civil strife if it felt this outrageous conduct would extend its life in power.

Thus, the alliance to abort the revolution which includes members of the former SCAF and Islamist currents has torn the nation apart, hijacked the constitution and made it conflict with the goals of the great people's revolution – while achieving its own agendas through practices akin to thievery.

After that, it hijacked the legislative power and gave it to a body that was chosen by a slim percentage of eligible voters because the majority clearly boycotted the election – most probably because this body would not have any legislative powers.

Through practices not unlike those the revolution rose up to overthrow, the regime today is using the constitution and unsteady legislative powers to restrict civil and political rights, especially freedoms of expression, organisation and assembly. This is done through clauses in the constitution that restrict freedoms by law, which undermines a key foundation of democracy – the peaceful rotation of power.

Short link: