Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt’s future is uncertain and troubling | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In Rabiah al-Adawiyah Mosque in Nasr City, a passer-by found discarded referendum ballots, after citizens had registered their votes on them. These ballots had been replaced by forged papers, or ones that had been marked in advance with a “yes.” This means that the groups in Egypt, who during the eras of Mubarak, Sadat, and Abdul Nasser, replaced genuine ballot boxes with forged votes, are still at large in the country, and are practicing the same dirty tricks.

Therefore, whilst the referendum in Egypt seemed a momentous occasion, with millions going to the polls to vote freely for the first time since 1952, the reality was something quite different. The referendum was marred by vote rigging; as was clear in some constituencies. This was supported by the testimonies of witnesses, and by video recordings from Rabiah al-Adawiyah Mosque, uploaded on YouTube.

This suggests, first of all, that the old state security apparatus, which was responsible for widespread fraud in Egypt, still exists and performs its task in the same old manner. Therefore, nothing has changed in the country. The 18 days of the Egyptian Revolution may have shaken the world, but they did not shake the state security apparatus or those behind the scenes in the National Democratic Party.

What does the result of the Egyptian referendum mean, whereby some 80 percent said “yes,” and 20 percent said “no?” First of all, this means that Egypt has entered the tunnel of sectarianism. It is clear that the Copts of Egypt, who constitute 12 percent of the population, with a 3 percent margin of error, voted “no”. Meanwhile, the majority of Muslims voted “yes”, with the exception of some 7 to 10 percent of liberal Egyptians. If the results of the referendum are valid, we are facing a state of sectarian polarization.

We know that the state security apparatus, under General Habib el-Adly, was responsible for both provoking and calming sectarian sedition in Egypt, as evidenced by its involvement in the Al-Qiddisin Church events in Alexandria. Therefore, it is in the interests of the state security apparatus for this result to be interpreted as a sectarian division, and for Egypt to be dragged into a religious sectarian war. If the Muslims said “yes,” and the Copts said “no,” the country could erupt, and the people would cry for state security protection, and throw themselves at the mercy of the security apparatus, and the regime.

The appearance may be democratic, but the reality is fraud. Is this what the Egyptians want from the first election in which they voted freely?

The political structure of the Egyptian regime is reminiscent of the Muhammad Ali Mosque in the Cairo Citadel – a white-silver veneer that glitters in the sun, giving the impression of a modern building, or a structure that is part of the modern world, whilst under the veneer there are old stones, as heavy as the old regime, which are difficult to change or remove. This is because if we remove the old stones there will no longer be a mosque, and if we conduct free and impartial elections, there will no longer be a regime.

The former regime was tied to Hosni Mubarak, who still resides in Sharm al-Sheikh, without being called to trial, and no one has touched him. The old feudal structure, with its glittering veneer, still exists. The Mubarak regime had a [democratic] veneer, and it seems that the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces wants to use the revolution as a glittering new veneer, whilst it proceeds to rig ballot boxes and commit fraud.

In a previous article, I said that the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces, in order to facilitate its actions and with good intentions, formed a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, as they were the only organized force in society. Yet the council did not realize that a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood always comes with extras – the Brotherhood subsequently incorporated the Salafis and various Islamist groups into the deal. Thus it is strange that the popular arm of an army, known for its belief in the civil state, consists of Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamist groups!

The scandal of the ballot papers, which were found discarded in Rabiah al-Adawiyah Mosque after voting had taken place, and replaced with fraudulent votes, must have taken place in other regions as well. When I received video evidence of this fraud on my “Facebook” page, an al-Ahram journalist had commented “what a dark day”, which is an Egyptian expression for a large shock.

The legitimacy of the ruling Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces is beginning to erode, and the council needs a radical step to rectify its course. I have no problem with the people losing confidence in the ruling Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces, but I have a huge problem with the people losing confidence in the army. The Council must distance its political behavior from the spotless reputation of the Egyptian Armed Forces, which should not be tarnished. Politics is dirty, and the Council has entered these corridors. We have to protect the Armed Forces from such politicization.

If it is proven that what happened in Rabiah al-Adawiyah was repeated in other regions, the Supreme Council ought to cancel the referendum, so that Egypt is not dragged into a dark tunnel, which we do not want, and which the revolution never called for.