The Egyptian opposition agreeing to participate in the constitutional referendum, in accordance with five conditions put forward by the National Salvation Front, is a smart move and a politically wise act, rather than a sign of retreat or defeat. It is true that the battle in Egypt is a battle to preserve the state, but the battle is unfortunately being conducted through legal loopholes and religious and media deception, and in this climate rationalism is important.
The Egyptian opposition’s confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood, in the latter’s attempt to hijack Egypt as a whole, will not be a single battle. Instead it will be multiple rounds, from the constitution to the media, and even the economy, education and of course the political system as a whole. The Brotherhood have succeeded in misleading Egyptian public opinion in crucial moments, just as they succeeded in fooling the West and many in our region about their democratic intentions, the transfer of power and so on. The conditions accompanying the Egyptian opposition’s decision to participate in the referendum include full judicial supervision – a matter that has not yet been resolved by the judges, and for the referendum to be held on one day only and not in two phases as the Brotherhood proposed, which would disperse the electorate and make it easier to rig the vote. This is a smart move and it means that the opposition is playing politics correctly, responding to the Brotherhood’s tricks in the same manner.
The Egyptian opposition must realize that as long as they are able to mobilize millions of Egyptians to reject President Mursi’s constitutional declaration, which granted him full powers, and his attempt to pass the Brotherhood’s constitution, or the “midnight” constitution as it has been described in Egyptian newspapers, then they are also able to mobilize crowds to vote “no” in the constitutional referendum and preserve the state. This is the opposition’s battle now, and it is the most effective way to curb the Brotherhood’s greed. A boycott did not work for Iraq’s Sunnis after the fall of Saddam Hussein, nor did it work for Egyptian political forces the day they were deceived by the Brotherhood’s tricks and pushed into a clash with the military council after the fall of Mubarak. Those forces were ultimately distracted in futile battles and on that day we wrote warning Egypt’s liberals not to be like the Sunnis of Iraq.
From here the decision to participate, and to mobilize the ranks to vote no against the “midnight” constitution is a smart and rational move. It is proper political conduct on the part of the Egyptian opposition, and in doing so it takes away a number of important cards from the Brotherhood, most importantly its deception of the street and the way in which it has fooled the West into thinking that the Brotherhood believes in institutional democratic work. Likewise this step proves that the Egyptian opposition is not only a street opposition, but it also has weight at the ballot box and knows how to play politics rather than misleading tricks. It is true that the task is a difficult one, but it has long been said that nations are not built on hopes, slogans or through the pulpits, rather they are built on long, hard work that requires mobilizing the ranks and winning over others. The most important thing is to deprive the competition of their deceptive tricks, especially if the competition, in this case the Muslim Brotherhood, is playing the religion card, exploiting legal loopholes and inciting the emotions of the masses.
So now the hard work begins for Egypt, or at least a third of its electorate, to vote “no” on the “midnight” constitution.