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Pacifying the people or spoiling them?

20 Dec 2014 1:01 am

Problems on hold

It is very obvious that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is doing his best to meet the expectations of the Egyptian people who loved and entrusted him with saving Egypt from the Islamist post-Arab Spring regime and leading the country through the path of reform. It is unmistakable too that ever since he took office he has spared no time or effort to lay the foundation for the means to improve the quality of life for Egyptians. For that purpose he has worked diligently to achieve political conciliation on the internal front and enhance economic cooperation with the outer world.
In this context I believe that President Sisi succeeded with flying colours in gaining the confidence of Egyptians. But a decision he took earlier this month raised in my mind more than one question and exclamation. In the wake of the recent court rulings that acquitted former President Hosni Mubarak, his sons and aides of charges against them President Sisi gave directions that the justice authorities should look into the legality of issuing a law to criminalise any attack against the 25 January 2011 [the Arab Spring] Revolution or the 30 June 2013 Revolution which brought down the Islamist post-Arab Spring regime. Understandably, controversy has been raging among the public over which of the two revolutions takes credit for being representative of the will of the Egyptian people and for bringing about the change demanded by the masses. I could not help wondering what President Sisi’s directive aimed at. Was he trying to please the people by removing any cause of conflict, or was he spoiling them? As though we have not enough challenges on our hands, and can afford to waste our time and effort on aimless academic discussions that pronounce judgment on history, dropping the parts we do not like and holding on to whatever we choose. True, this takes place every day on the street, creating clamorous tumult fired up by the media. But for the President to intervene to put an end to the commotion through possible legislation, this goes beyond the good intention of pacifying the people, to spoiling them. Moreover, such legislation if passed risks constraining freedom of expression, and being branded as prejudiced against one political faction or another. Questions might also rise on its constitutionality, which would place the President in an awkward position.

All Egyptians believe it very important that what took place in Egypt during the 25 January 2011 Arab Spring uprising and throughout the two-and-a-half years until the 30 June 2013 Revolution should be documented. This task must be left to the persons and groups specialised in recording events, fact finding, collecting evidence and documenting testimonies, before ending up with the historians. It should not be left for political and media debate where the facts would easily get lost. But mouths must not be gagged nor pens broken through penalising anyone who would as much as pronounce an opinion on any of the two revolutions.
I have previously written here my assessment of the path walked by Egypt between 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2013, basing on what I lived through and witnessed. I testified to the authenticity of the wrath of Egyptians on 25 January and their protest against an unfair ruling regime they had grown tired of. I wrote about their insistence on getting rid of that regime until they succeeded on 11 February. However their revolution was hijacked at the hands of political Islam. In the absence of leadership and political vision on the part of the revolutionists, the well-organised Islamists were able to rise to power. It was a revolution that lost its way due to the innocence of its perpetrators. Egypt then lived through a difficult time that almost rocked her, until the people rebelled and the army aligned itself with the sweeping will of the people and saved Egypt on 30 June 2013. My assessment was that Egypt needed these two-and-a-half years to get utterly weaned of political Islam and the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Some may agree with me and some may not. None has the final say on what really took place between 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2013. But we cannot be forced into silence at risk of legal retribution.

Watani International
21 December 2014


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