Written 4th July, 2013
Egypt’s Second Revolution
On 3rd July 2013, Egypt’s first ‘democratically elected’ President Morsi, was deposed by military decree, in response to the millions of Egyptian citizens who had signed petitions and turned out en masse to demand Morsi step down. It could be called a citizen-led military coup, but to the millions of Egyptians on the streets, it was a victory against the oppressive regime.
[Note: I highlighted ‘democratically elected’ because the elections were fraught with problems, from intimidations to ballot box stuffing, and there was no outside independent auditors to keep things legal.]
My Egyptian friends are happy that Morsi is gone and that they have a second chance at electing a democratic government again. Their joy is wonderful to see. I remember the euphoria from the first revolution, and everyone felt it, even beyond Egypt.
But this second revolution is different. An online friend commented that he felt “equal amounts of optimism, pessimism, anxiety, fear, caution, and fatigue.” This describes exactly my feelings right now. As much as I want to celebrate with my Egyptian friends, there is a part of me that feels something has just gone horribly wrong.
Let me clearly state that I did not like or support Morsi nor his MB party. If I had been Egyptian with the right to vote I would never have voted for Morsi or his party. I have always stated I did not trust the MB, that they lied over and over again, and that they would be very bad for the country.
So my comments here are not because I don`t understand the desire to rid Egypt of the MB party and Morsi as president. Clearly, he had lost the support of the people. If he had been a man of honour he would have admitted that and called for a new election. That was all it would have taken, for him to address the country, say he realized that he had lost their support, and announce when a new election would be held. Then he would dissolve the parliament, and begin the election process. The people would have gotten what they were asking for, the right to a new election to choose someone who would better represent and run the country.
The military was not needed. The violence that is erupting across Egypt as a result of the military’s actions would not be happening. All of this could have been avoided. But the path has been set, and there’s no turning back.
In the hours after the announcement by the military that it was stepping in, they shut down MB sponsored media, and arrested journalists. If this had happened to non-MB journalists, there would have been outrage that the media was being censored. In a democracy, freedom of speech must extend to everyone, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. I was informed that the decision to take these steps was supported by the people, to keep peace, to avoid the MB from calling for a jihad and retaliation. In fact, the MB didn’t need the media to stir up their followers. They had Friday Prayers.
Another disturbing development is the growing ‘Them verse Us’ mentality, which goes against the revolution’s call of freedom for all citizens. In the days to come I fear growing violence between citizens with more deaths.
As I read the online posts from Egyptians I can’t shake this sense of foreboding. If this second revolution had been truly by the people, with no military involvement, I don’t think I’d be feeling as unsettled as I do now. One reason for this is SCAF.
Seeing Egyptians putting their faith in SCAF, willing to embrace them as being ‘with the people’, is really disconcerting. Friends tell me they are willing to give SCAF a chance, that they aren’t the same as they were before, that they’ve changed. I am reminded of how Canadians develop a kind of selective amnesia as they re-elect politicians that previously screwed the country. It is endemic in humanity, I guess.
Two and a half years ago I didn’t even know what SCAF was. Egypt, you taught me that SCAF was the enemy. You showed me the images proving their brutality and oppression of your Egyptian brothers and sisters. I read the first-hand accounts of women subjected to virginity testing at the hands of SCAF; of men and women imprisoned and subjected to beatings, torture, rapes and sodomy at the hands of SCAF. You showed me the faces of those martyred by SCAF. You showed their secret headquarters, the stockpiles of viagra and condoms, the women’s clothing, and detailed the atrocities that happened under their control. You taught me to hate SCAF with the same vehemence you felt for them. Now, you embrace SCAF, the enemy, and are certain the military is “with the people” and will come through on their promises to give back the country.
It is very difficult for me to view SCAF in any other way than what you taught me: as the enemy.
I can’t help wondering how the No Military Trials people feel right now, after fighting for two and a half years to bring some justice to people affected by SCAF. How are they dealing with having to set aside two and a half years of their efforts against this enemy, and now embrace SCAF as being “on our side.”
More importantly, how must the families of those tortured and killed at the hands of SCAF feel right now, knowing that their emancipation from MB rule, and possibly their future, is now in the hands of the very body of people that brought them such sorrow?
Regardless of what the military says, I can’t help thinking: what if they refuse to release control, citing continued violence and the need to stabilize the country? At that point the people will once again take to the streets, but this time against the might of a military that has the power to crush any uprising. If that happens there will be no one in the country to protect the Egyptian people and they will be forced to seek outside help, which is something I know they are loathed to do.
Since hearing the news and listening to the responses of Egyptian friends, I have struggled to understand why I feel so depressed. As much as I am happy for my Egyptian friends because they are feeling happy and hopeful, there is a part of me that feels disillusioned, uneasy, concerned.
Maybe I’ve become too close to this issue. Although I’ve spent the last two and a half years reading everything I can on the issues affecting Egypt, and have taken to heart the stories, comments, analysis of Egyptians for Egypt, and have cheered every success, and shed tears over every loss, one fact remains: this isn’t my revolution. Even though there is a part of my heart which holds Egypt, and her citizens, in such high regard and with such affection, I am not Egyptian, have no Egyptian blood in me, and have no vested interest in the success or failure of the country. What happens in Egypt should not matter so much to me that it upsets my day, and disturbs my sleep. But it does.
The revolution was full of hope, fused with enormous energy of the Egyptian citizens who could barely contain their desire to extricate themselves from under an oppressive dictator. It was pure and beautiful, and one couldn’t help but be carried along on the euphoria that spread far beyond Egypt’s borders. We all were Egyptians that day as we sat glued to our televisions and computers, watching events unfold, inch by painful inch, until the dictator finally fell. It was a defining moment, globally, because it showed people working together, putting aside differences to focus on one goal, for the good of everyone. It was a David and Goliath moment, and we all were swept away by it.
Between then and now, the belief that Egypt would ultimately succeed in creating a democracy for the people by the people has never left, even in the face of the many disappointments.
When people took to the streets on 30th June, I was worried about their safety, but I felt optimistic that maybe, once again, the people would prevail. I knew this wouldn’t happen overnight but I never imagined it would happen as it did. I believed that if people stayed the course, as they had with Mubarak, that Morsi would eventually realize he had to step aside and call new elections.
Friends tell me that the military was needed to remove Morsi, but it seems to me that the military has stolen the revolution. It is hard to be happy about this second revolution as it feels tainted, the power now held by people with blood on their hands, the blood of the martyrs of the first revolution.
I don’t have the right to rain on anybody’s parade. This is Egypt’s battle, their revolution, and I can only hope and pray that eventually they find their way to the democracy they so desperately desire. This is a long journey they are on, and there is no way to know what will happen next.
So I must step away, from politics, and from Egyptian politics in particular. I`ve spent two and a half years of my life daily focused on Egypt and maybe this is the Universe telling me it`s time to let go. My thoughts and prayers will always be with Egyptians as they struggle to achieve the goals of the revolution, and I know that will take time, tears, and hard work. They will make it, eventually. To my Egyptian friends, may God bless and keep you safe. I stand in solidarity with you, with eternal respect and love.