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Opinion: Exchanging minds for boots in Egypt | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Supporters of Egypt’s army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is to run for the presidency in the upcoming elections, hold military boots on their heads in a sign of support for military rule, while wearing their national flag as others hold posters bearing the image of the military commander (bottom R and L) and late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat (top) during a demonstration outside the Police Academy in Cairo where a new hearing in the trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi opened on January 28, 2014. Morsi went on trial on charges of breaking out of prison during the 2011 uprising against veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD KHALED

Supporters of Egypt's army chief, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, hold military boots on their heads in a sign of support for military rule on January 28, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD KHALED)

Supporters of Egypt’s army chief, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, hold military boots on their heads in a sign of support for military rule on January 28, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD KHALED)

What on earth is it that compels some people to gather together their children—the eldest of whom is probably no older than eight years old—and make them stand in line while literally holding a military boot over their tiny heads?

They then tell the little ones to smile for the photographer as they pose next to images of Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, dubbed the “Lion of Egypt.” These sorry photographs are then published around the world.

Why do these images have to appear?

Has the military boot become such an icon of the era that it should be placed over the heads of our children? In the past we have seen people wearing it around their waists or their necks, sometimes kissing it and holding it close to their hearts. Now it can be seen above the heads of children, themselves barely bigger than the boots themselves.

What is happening in Egypt? Is it some sort of mass delirium?

Yes, there are security fears in Egypt and these are real, grave and dangerous, but the people who are reportedly targeting Egypt cannot be identified. Yet politicians, activists and the media—possibly the worst and most ignorant in Egypt’s history—are manipulating these fears in the most casual way. Have you heard the absurd statements being issued by certain figures across all TV channels, whether pro-government or private?

In Egypt some people are trying to increase, not calm, public fears.

“No impartiality and no objectivity” is the empty slogan that has made it easy to create suspicions and spread lies and delusion. We have seen commentators and politicians on television spouting the vilest phrases and describing the most absurd scenarios, all in agreement that there is a major global conspiracy against Egypt and that the only way of dealing with this and getting rid of its Muslim Brotherhood adherents is the military boot. And it has become natural for both politicians and journalists to condemn and destroy these alleged “conspirators.”

We are witnessing the easy peddling of the idea that there is no room for criticism of all this, and that the “danger” facing the country justifies this illogical stance. This is an Egypt where we see 20 Al-Jazeera journalists—including Westerners—thrown in jail under the pretext of being part of a conspiracy nobody understands. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, we are seeing the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as liberal activists, leftists, academics and journalists, thrown in jail in their droves.

Earlier this week, the news reported that a man had filed a complaint against his own wife, accusing her of dealing with the outlawed Brotherhood. The evidence presented by the husband? A picture of his wife in London smiling while making the infamous pro-Mohamed Mursi Rabaa hand gesture.

Most independent Western and international media talk about the oppression that is taking place in Egypt. Newspapers such as The New York Times have written articles and op-eds about the “Egyptian Catastrophe” in an attempt to explain and analyze the reality of what is happening in the country. All the while, these same articles are dismissed as being part of the conspiracy against Egypt. How is this possible?

Journalists and columnists are publishing articles that justify what is taking place today on a daily basis. They ridicule those of us who live outside Egypt and who watch in shock and despair at the events unfolding there, as if we do not understand anything and need explanations to justify what the military institution is doing.

Egypt is living through a difficult and oppressive era, but nothing justifies erasing our children’s minds and replacing them with military boots with only one role: to stamp on their dreams and rights.