Problems on hold
Last week, I congratulated Egyptians for the triumph of the 30 June Revolution, the success of which gave them back the January 2011 Revolution which they had lost to the Islamists. But even as I toasted the 30 June achievement I knew matters were not that simple
. I reminded all who celebrated with me that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) would not give in without a vicious fight. The masses of Egyptians, backed by the military, had dislodged the MB from power, and they would never take that defeat. They would not hesitate, I said, to resort to violence, destruction and even murder to challenge the masses who dared reject them; as though they had given these masses anything to boast of since their president Muhammad Mursi had come to power.
My worst fears materialised last week as we got a taste of this violence. The MB, who apparently believed they could regain their lost authority despite the will of the Egyptian people, terrorised Egypt—its military and civilians—through a series of episodes of horrific violence. They exposed their ugly face as they made it clear they were willing to forsake everything and everyone Egyptian to reach their goal. This actually worked to inform anyone in Egypt who still had any doubt as to how ugly the MB could be of the Islamist group’s real worth. Divine wisdom has allowed for Egyptians to suffer, agonise and pay dearly in the lives and blood of her children all through the last year, in order to rid her for good of the MB.
I cannot tell whether or not the MB would be able to work a revision and decide to merge into the Egyptian political map according to rules that have so far been foreign to them. These rules involve participation, citizenship concepts, power alternation, and an elimination of the exclusion of the other and the hegemony the MB have exercised with gusto. But I know that the majority of Egyptians are, at this point in time, overburdened with a bitter legacy of distrust of the MB, and might be unable to accept them in active political life.
Let us then focus on rebuilding our State and on healing what had been corrupted during the two-and-a-half years since the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution. I recall the statement made by our interim President Judge Adly Mansour when he was sworn in, calling on Egyptians not to leave the ‘square’. He said he did not mean the physical square or the protests or sit-ins. Rather, he said, he meant the ‘square’ as in active political participation in the upcoming period which should be decisive in rewriting the future of Egypt. A new, consensual constitution that indiscriminately honours the rights and freedoms of all Egyptians should be drafted, a parliament representative of all Egyptians elected, as well as a president who would serve and gather all under the one banner of the Egyptian flag. Parliament, the President stressed, should assume its role as legislator and monitor in a spirit of Egyptian nationalism, without hegemony, despotism or exclusion of the other.
We need to look to the path ahead of us in order not to slip back into the old, indifferent habits of apathy towards the ballot box. We need to remember that even if matters settle down and conflicts and violence abate, the fear of a comeback of radical political thought is just round the corner, and its way back is through the ballot box. We should be well aware that while rooting democracy we should never allow it, through our own no-show and apathy, to be hijacked once more through the ballot box. True, Egyptians have demonstrated their ability to topple dictators that came through the ballot box, but this remains an action similar to that of a surgeon who uses his scalpel to excise a malignant tumour. To prevent the ailment in the first place, we should head to the polls to exercise our will and cut the road before adverse forces.
It has been decades now since Egyptians got into the habit of relinquishing their voter rights, since our ‘lazy’ silent majority did not grasp how vital the ballot box was to the quality of life they lived. The result was such a disgraceful turnout that we lost so many battles to an organised minority which headed in force to the polls. It is now time for us to realise that we will not gain any electoral battle with less than a 60 per cent turnout, the least we can mange if we wish to abort any trifling with the will of the voters. I dare to hope that we would even exceed this turnout and reach full democratic maturity.
What if we head to the ballots but our vote is fragmented among different candidates, leading to a victory for the organised minority? It is inevitable that we should acquire the culture of accordance and solidarity. We should work to support specific candidates, in order for our votes not to go to the wind.
The challenge awaits us in the referendum on the new constitution, and the parliamentary and the presidential elections. It is a long road ahead that carries the potential of creating our modern Egyptian State. The 30 June Revolution is not over.
14 July 2013