Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt and the finishing touch | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A new verbal challenge has arisen on the Egyptian scene recently, following the January 25 revolution, whereby nobody can start their morning and begin their day without bearing the consequences of their words. People today have reached the extent of concern and tension that a man can no longer say good morning to his colleague without a torrent of jokes full of political indications and allusions. If the man says “sabah al-huriya” [a greeting that has become popular following the revolution] then he is seen to be among those who welcomes the revolution and change that has struck the country; he will be viewed with suspicion and doubt as a defender of the Muslim Brotherhood or a supporter of its Freedom and Justice Party. However if the man should say “sabah al-noor” [a traditional Islamic greeting], then he is no doubt a supporter of the Salafist movement and affiliated to the Salafist Al Noor party. Finally, if he is resentful and opts to use the traditional greeting that prevailed in the 1940s and 1950s prior to the Free Officers military coup, namely “saida mubarak”, then this confirms that he is “undoubtedly” one of the remnants of the supporters of Hosni Mubarak, the National Democratic Party and its symbols.

Today in Egypt a state of frustration has befallen a segment of the revolutionaries. They feel that the revolution has been stolen from them and that what is happening today in the name of their revolution has nothing to do with the principles and objectives that they first declared in Tahrir Square during the 18 days that witnessed the birth of the Egyptian uprising. Therefore they have serious reservations about what has been written and interpreted in various media outlets, in the name of the revolution and its goals. One revolutionary youth, on his internet blog, made fun of the situation by saying: “When our name is mentioned in the media today it should be classified among the various sections of fiction: there is fantasy and science fiction, and now there is a new section, your [the media’s] information! This fiction is being mixed with lies and this presents the reader with a terrifying blend of events, facts and people, all in the name of an important event [the Egyptian revolution], and all for suspicious interests and objectives”. The young writer directly cites what religious preachers are doing. They have addressed the political scene after the revolution and have started to play the role of “hero”, even claiming credit for the revolution on more than one satellite channel, while their stance – even just a few days before the start of the revolution – condemned the idea of coming out and uprising against the Mubarak regime.

These stances have been documented and are well known to the Egyptians themselves, but what applies to the stance of these preachers “hijacking” the Egyptian revolution can also be applied to others, and this opens the door to the biggest problem in Egypt’s post-revolution political era, namely the problem of the “finishing touches”. At the start we saw a beautiful scene that began in Tahrir Square, with idealist slogans, wonderful demands and peaceful mobility that served as an example to the whole world, with a genuine consensus with no distinction between the various sections of Egyptian society or their doctrines. However, what has followed on from the revolution has – so far – seemed to have forgotten all of these great demands and goals, and has descended towards a radical discourse that divides rather than unites society, thus confirming that the current problem in Egyptian politics is one of applying the finishing touch. Otherwise, despite the skill and technique of the player, his efforts are circumvented by others and fail to pay dividends, and therefore all the efforts in the world are useless unless ultimately, a goal is scored and victory secured.

The Egyptian revolution is like a football that everyone is attempting to steal or gain possession of, and everybody is claiming ownership of this and thus trying to put their mark on it. There are those calling for the overthrow of the military and others who argue that the legitimacy of governance comes from the street, not parliament; there are those who say that the parliament is the foundation and the government is the office built upon it, because both are an echo and a reflection of the desire of the people and street.

The world is monitoring what is happening in the largest Arab state as it undergoes a political reformation, sometimes in the name of youth mobilization and sometimes in the name of the army; one camp talking about hope and the future and another talking about security and stability, as if the two issues cannot be reconciled and achieved together, rather one must be chosen at the expense of the other. This scene is being repeated on an ongoing basis and promotes the following image: that the choice between the two issues makes one side the polar opposite of the other, and this is not necessarily true!

In general, the “game” or the revolution is not over yet, everyone is still watching and contemplating what will happen, with a view to their desired hopes and goals. The days ahead will be exciting and could be a cause for hope as much as a cause for frustration!