Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Scenes from the revolution | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Egyptian Revolution began and ended in spectacular fashion, won the admiration of the world, and transformed into a shining example of popular determination, and peoples’ ability to achieve the impossible, once they believe in themselves and break through the fear barrier. Unfortunately, today this revolution is suffering from a state of fear, suspicion and anxiety. There is a fear of losing what has been gained, suspicion against those whom were though to have protected the revolution, and anxiety about the consequences of what is to come. There is a belief that a final confrontation with the corrupt symbols of the former regime is strongly required.

Nevertheless, there is a clear danger at the moment in this highly complex phase of anticipation and deliberation. We can see this in the expressions voiced by the ordinary Egyptians in the streets. We can find it written on number plates, cars and trucks. For example, I saw a taxi on which the following expression was written: “If you understand anything at all, please explain to me.” This is a simple statement, yet it accurately reflects the condition of many, and the confusion shared by ordinary people, with regards to what is going on. Such people do not understand terms like “counter-revolution” and “remnants”, which are seen to be the main reasons behind the hindered progress of the Egyptian revolution.

I also saw another phrase which caught my eye. It was posted on the back of a heavy truck and read: “We cannot understand the meaning of Muslim Brotherhood, let alone the Salafist groups.” The ordinary man on the street cannot comprehend such intense partisanship, in the name of a simple religion they have lived with for decades without complication. For them, this seems to have happened all of a sudden, as if Islam is being reintroduced to them through a group of new set of preachers, each of whom has the divine right to present the true religion to people.

One of the most prominent signs I noticed was held by a young man and woman in the centre of Tahrir Square, reading: “I don’t care…I want a job.” This phrase highlights the massive economic and social cost of the ongoing confusion, stagnation and preoccupation, where the impetus seems to be on revenge, instead of providing the right atmosphere to build a state and its apparatus, including security, education, the judiciary and the economy. This would be a true guarantee for the success of the revolution, and the best way to move ahead to the next stage, which is particularly significant and sensitive.

The revolution demands and end to the symbols of the former regime; a regime that governed for more than 30 years, serving as an extension to the regimes that preceded it, having emerged from the 1952 coup which introduced military rule to Egypt. So where do the regime’s symbols begin, and where do they end? Is there a known list of such people, or is the whole matter fuelled by sheer emotions, prejudice and a personal vendetta against certain categories?

The case of Mohamed Hassanein Heikal accusing former President Hosni Mubarak of possessing a massive fortune was particularly ridiculous, sorrowful and pathetic. Heikal presented figures “verifying” his allegation in a press interview, but when he was summoned by Egyptian investigators to prove what he had claimed, Heikal retracted his allegation, and said that his statement was based on press reports. In doing so, Heikal reminded us of his old style of fabricating events and information as he used to do when he was the mouthpiece of Nasser’s tyrannical regime, and later on when he became an opponent to the Sadat and Mubarak regimes.

The Egyptian Revolution is a highly significant movement, but today it seems incapable of reading the mood on the street, and arranging its priorities in a wise order. This deliberation will most likely generate a counter movement which shall emanate from feelings of injustice, because the revolution of “bread and corruption” has turned into a revolution of starving and forgotten people. I will end by mentioning a final sign that I witnessed, which summarizes the scene on the Egyptian street today. It was hung outside a small grocery store, and read: “I’d love to sleep in peace.”