Why resisting the trite formula is a matter of life and death in Egypt

Nader Bakkar , Friday 30 Aug 2013

A dictator never says that he is someone who oppresses freedoms, kills his opponents and abuses human rights. They all, regardless of time or place, speak about state security and maintaining order

What is obvious to all is that nobody wants Egypt to be a failed state, not only when it comes to institutions, but also in terms of its social coherence. Yet currently, we are witnessing a large faction within society falling into the hatred trap and finding it acceptable that violence, counter-violence and the violation of human rights has become the order of the day.

The social conflict is the most dangerous of all to our future as its outcome could extend to generations to come. The atmosphere in Egypt today is calculated to promote extremism more than ever before, and the concept of ‘with us or against us’ is taking over everything. Bloodshed has become acceptable and people seek to segregate themselves and expel others from their midst mindless of how illegitimate may be the means to do this. For instance, El Baradei has become a pariah overnight, just because he refused to be involved in the bloodshed or to act against ideals he has always believed in and promoted.

Those in Egypt who have wisdom will no doubt confirm as history unfolds itself, the huge mistakes committed by the Muslim Brotherhood regime over the last year. Still, this is no reason to consolidate a culture of hatred and enemy images, killing others without mercy, or silencing those who attempt in some way to terminate the cycle of revenge.

Any sound political estimation of the current situation in Egypt tells us that the Muslim Brotherhood will not disappear from our lives just because their leadership has made huge mistakes over the past year.

We have no option but to seek a political resolution as the option of permanently banishing either faction is unattainable. Whatever the bloodshed to come, one thing we do know already is that neither faction will ever be able to deal the other a knock–out blow.

So, we – as the Al Nour Party – have always stressed to both parties, even before the enforced dispersals of the Rabea and Al Nahda sit-ins, that the options of violence and torture are so much easier than attempts at agreement, which must involved taking a step or two back in order to keep the social order and peace.

After the January 25 revolution, the Al Nour Party always rejected and did its best to circumvent the political exclusion of the members of the National Democratic Party. Rather, it called for trying those whose guilt could be proved, while reserving all the big political decisions for the Egyptian people to take through the ballot box. Now, we have to repeat the same principled message regarding the calls to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood didn’t commit the type of Third-Reich crimes that necessitate what’s left of them being eradicated from the social organism in this way.

As for the Muslim Brotherhood, they must re-examine their stands today more than ever. The organization needs to have a new leadership who understands that June 30 was a direct result of the exponential rate of deterioration caused by their mistakes over the year. Accordingly, they have to work hard to reverse their losses and they must prove that they do have enough flexibility to allow them to re-enter politics. That in a nutshell sums up Al Nour Party’s philosophy in all its initiatives and negotiations between the Muslim Brotherhood and the transitional authority currently in power.

I am totally convinced that one of President Morsi’s biggest mistakes was to confront the deep state instead of containing it and reforming it. This doesn’t mean tolerating the deep-rooted corruption of this state or disregarding all the signs in Egypt of the restoration of a police state.

The threat of the police state being restored requires the solidarity of all the political powers, whether those that emerged after January 25 or those that existed before, to face down the mentality of oppression that tries to take away the gains of January 25 in exchange for the promise of a putative ‘security’ that has probably never existed and which now consists in nothing more than a handful of nationalist songs and slogans.

The eternally oppressive false philosophical binary of 'either security or freedom' is currently being peddled energetically to the people. Most of the Egyptian media is now joined in chorus about the poor Egyptian citizen with barely enough to scrape a day-to-day living, who - they would all bet - would be more than content to give up freedom and even the lives of some others if necessary, to guarantee a restoration of security after January 25.

The press entourage of  Mostafa Hegazy, the presidential chancellor, is one example of this sort of media machine. Instead of leaving judgment to the legal committees, on the grounds that a government official can’t be objective, he insists on piling on security terms to describe the biggest crisis facing Egypt in modern times. His speech about ‘religious fascism’ is a primitive tool for covering up for the inability of the Government to solve the issue of the Rabaa protests politically, which we – as Al Nour Party – together with some personnel in the interim government including El Baradei were seeking at the time. Hegazy's team instead used oppressive terms that threatened a generalized punishment, mixed truth with falsehood, and went out of their way to mislead the poorly-informed.

A dictator never says that he is someone who oppresses freedoms, kills his opponents and abuses human rights. They all, regardless of time or place, speak about state security and maintaining order. They all accuse their opponents of the filthiest kinds of crimes, backed by an army of journalists, writers, media people, society personalities and sometimes legal experts who are all willing to justify their oppressive acts, even massacres, and may even recommend that such actions be stepped up. Needless to say, Khaled Said was one Egyptian citizen who was killed by police oppression; the same goes for the Salafist Sayed Belal who was killed under state security torture for a crime he didn’t commit. Examples of others are many, and I don’t think such a long time has passed since those crimes; it is just that people’s memory is poor.

Hegazy’s speeches regarding killing protesters are identical to those of Nazeef’s and Shafik’s governments during January 25. We just need to revisit the terms that Hegazy used before June 30 to condemn the oppressive acts of this same Ministry of the Interior with its same leadership, and compare them to what he says about the current massacres. Mr. Hegazy repeatedly mentions ‘fighting terrorism’ as he knows how effective a trigger this is when applied to the sensitivities and insecurities of the west, so that nobody will raise the issue of human rights as long as he carries on talking about terrorism.

Terrorism is rejected out of hand by religious and wise people everywhere regardless of the cause, as they all believe in the necessity of avoiding bloodshed and achieving social security. But does all terrorism face the same amount of media condemnation with the mobilizing of millions of people to confront it? Or is this designation confined to Islamists alone?

Should Egypt’s army and the police need to be begged to tackle more than a hundred thousand thugs for instance? Of course not, especially when those thugs are spreading fear here, there and everywhere, and running a huge network of illegal interests. Confront that kind of terrorism, and you shall find sweeping support from all sides.

 This article was published in the digital commons openDemocracy


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