Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Egypt in Our Hearts and Minds | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An Egyptian activist distributes petitions for “Tamarod” (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Just like an hourglass or a countdown, days pass and wo are drawing closer to June 30, a date on which huge masses of people are expected to take streets in different Egyptian cities in response to the state of mobility incited by the “Tamarrod” [rebellion] movement. Tamarrod began as an attempt to collect a number of signatures from ordinary citizens to display their objection to President Mohamed Mursi’s administration and request that early presidential elections be held. According to the statements issued by the people in charge of Tamarrod, they have been successful in collecting over 15 million signatures, and so they expect that large numbers of those signatories will take to streets to stage sit-ins until their demands are met.

Of course, as everyone knows, the president’s followers forestalled this by taking to streets in huge numbers, carrying banners saying, “No Violence.” Of course, some threats were made by his adherents should President Mursi’s regime fall. The threats and insults reached the military when a prominent Muslim Brotherhood affiliate spoke from the platform amid the crowd and placed blame squarely on the Egyptian army, and even made threats and mocked them, causing mounting anger among the Egyptian armed forces.

The feeling of apprehension for Egypt’s safety is not growing among the Egyptian people alone, for this has also become an obsession for many outside observers. They are watching with great concern and amazement two trains rushing with incredible speed towards one another, and the destructive clash seems unavoidable. Mohamed Mursi came to power in harsh and exceptional circumstances. He won a presidential race that frustrated the youths who staged the revolution and who then found themselves between two options: a team represented by a man from the old regime against whom the revolution was staged, and another secret team that is known for religious extremism and autocratic behavior that horrified the Egyptians who were not accustomed to it.

Yet, the issue was settled by the polls and Mursi became president. Instead of Mursi following the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and seeking to end sedition and start a new page and act as president of all the Egyptians, he caused social tensions to grow, exacerbated divisions and caused deep splits among its members. He did not adopt the tolerance policy which Nelson Mandela followed after he spent 29 years in jail. Mandela did not seek revenge; rather, he appointed the leader of his former jailers, F. W. De Klerk, as his deputy, before relinquishing power, leaving behind a stable country. Mandela had always selected proficient people, and his selections were never confined to his inner circle, for he saw himself as president of the whole nation, not of a particular clan or group. Here lies the difference.

The Egyptian people by their nature are moderate. For example, they perform the fajr prayers in Al-Hussein mosque, then have fava beans for breakfast and go to work while listening to the Holy Qur’an as recited by Abdul-Basset Abdul-Samad. They arrive at work and then listen to Umm Kalthoum singing, and then return home and watch a football match in a cafeteria. They conclude their day by reading the Holy Qur’an after they watch a film by Faten Hamama. In drawing upon Islamic teachings, the Egyptians lean only on the heritage and men of Al-Azhar due to their conviction that this particular institute is capable of producing the most notable opinions and fatwas for the public interest.

Thus, for them, anything new is abnormal and runs against their natural disposition and so they see it as a threat, something we can clearly see today. Ruling by the maxim “only my own men and in my own manner” cannot fit a country that has just staged and recovered from a revolution that ended with elections with a slim majority, which people say has involved vote-rigging. Thus, a slim majority must reflect a cautious society that is suffering a crisis and is deeply concerned. All these elements and information must be taken into consideration in the policy-making process.

Egypt now is in need of rational and wise men more than ever before, as events are moving amazingly quickly. There are ignorant people who wish that the disagreement escalates and then ends with the use of force. Yet the issue is not one of a small dispute that impacts only a few people, but rather the issue is of a country that needs to feel safe and stable following a long time of tension and unrest.

We can do nothing but pray for Egypt and its people and ask Allah to bestow peace upon them.