Whither Egypt (I) – Did You Say Dictatorship?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Baher Kamal*

Cairo, 20 April, 2013 – Go to any five-star hotel downtown. Enter the lobby and watch who are there. You will see some pure-white “gebbah” (robe) dressed men from any Arab Gulf country, either talking on last-model smartphones, or just seated, thinking. They look rich and they probably are stakeholders -or even the landlords- of this hotel.

**A protester holding an Egyptian flag during the protests that started on 25 January 2011 | Credit: The_lion_of_Egyptian_revolution_(Qasr_al-Nil_Bridge).jpg: Kodak Agfa from Egypt | Wikimedia Commons

**A protester holding an Egyptian flag during the protests that started on 25 January 2011 | Credit: The_lion_of_Egyptian_revolution_(Qasr_al-Nil_Bridge).jpg: Kodak Agfa from Egypt | Wikimedia Commons

You will also see plenty of noisy young, informally dressed people, likely from Libya, who are here in Cairo for a surgery or medical treatment as they were injured in the war against Muammar Gaddafi a couple of years ago. The Libyan government would cover all their expenses.

Really few foreign guests, maybe a group of participants in a seminar.

Walk then towards the epicentre of the Egyptian revolution—Tahrir Square. If you go on a Friday morning –around 8 or 9 am, you will see half-a-dozen carts, loaded with bread, maybe also “white cheese”, refreshments, garlic and big blocs of ice wrapped in canvas.

A New Human Tsunami

It’s the first of the national two-day weekend, therefore people are still either sleeping or having breakfast at home. Thousands… tens of thousands.. hundreds of thousands will come to Tahrir square after the Friday prayer.

More than two years ago, exactly on 25th January 2011, they came here to press –in successive, impressive human tsunami– for overthrowing dictator Hosni Mubarak. And they managed to. In less than three weeks, the dictator who rule Egypt for three decades, quitted.

Now, in 2013, a new human tsunami marches on Cairo and major Egyptian cities and towns.

Why Was Morsi Eelected

This time, they want current president Mohamed Morsi to go. This Muslim Brothers figure was elected in June 2013 in competition of one of Mubarak’s strong men, lieutenant general Ahmad Shafiq.

Tens of versions circulated after those elections regarding why the Muslim Brother’s man won with a 51 percent.

A majority say that people did not actually vote for him, but rather against the old regimen’s man.

Others said that a majority of Egyptians elected Morsi hoping that he and his religious movement would do something for the their country, specially for the overwhelming majority of impoverished Egyptians.

A third version, backed by main opposition leaders, experts and academicians gained strong momentum—that the Muslim Brothers have manipulated the results. Either directly by changing the ballots –hundreds in favour of the third candidate, socialist Hamdein Sabbahi where found scattered in the fields. Or indirectly, by buying he votes of the farmers and the poor against a kilogram of sugar of a letter of cooking oil. Or both.

Political Misdoing

Whatever happened, the fact is that Morsi, since he took office, has been systematically blamed for his -and the Muslim Brothers’s- never-ending political mistakes, both nationally and at the international level. Not to mention the dangerously deteriorating economy.

Major opposition parties -which have grouped in the so-called National Salvation Front-, youth revolutionary movements and many deceived, ordinary people, have launched a firm, continuous campaign of anger against Morsi’s regime.

Likewise in the days that led to ousting dictator Mubarak, impressive massive popular protests have been demanding Morsi to quit.

Deadly clashes have been taking place between Muslims and Christians, in a new, unprecedented phenomenon in a country which has always been known for its firm well of peaceful co-existence. In Egypt, there have never been Muslims and Christians, but just… Egyptians.

The Muslim Brothers’ man, in fact, has reportedly managed to “re-unite” all Egyptians –including many of those who voted for him – against his continued misdoings.

See just some examples.

What Does the Opposition Say

Key political leaders Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamedein Sabbah repeat once and again that Egypt is now living under a new dictatorship.

Dr. Ali Leila, who teaches sociology at Ein Shams University in Cairo, expressed in an interview his views that the Muslim Brothers’ regime is dictatorial, and that it has ‘looted and plundered’ the revolution. Leila believes that the wave of violence taking place in Egypt appears to be the logical reaction.

Egyptian analyst Ramadan A. Kader writes “Disillusioned at what they see as little change in the country’s socio-economic and political landscape since the uprising, more young people appear convinced that peaceful protests are ineffective in bringing about the sought-after changes.”

“Intolerance of Secularists, Women, Christians, and even Liberal Judges…”

“The governing programme of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood has been disappointing. His commitment to genuine democracy has been faltering, and his efforts at inclusion and political tolerance have been wanting,” writes Emile Nakhleh, a former U.S. Senior Intelligence Service Officer, and a Research Professor at the University of New Mexico.

“Morsi’s intolerance of secularists, women, Christians, and even liberal judges is generating fears in Egypt and elsewhere that the country has replaced the secular Mubarak dictatorship with a theocratic autocracy,”

Amre Mousa, former foreign minister under Mubarak and, later on, former Arab League secretary general, and last years presidential candidate, says that Egypt is now in “deep crisis, a real deep crisis”. Egypt feels “lost, going out of one crisis to enter into a new one even worse,” he says.

“Egypt’s economy is broken, pushing 50 percent of citizens into poverty. Egyptians are frustrated, and the society is falling into pieces,” Mousa stresses.

Useless to mention that International Atomic Agency’s former chair, nobel laureate and key opposition figure, Egyptian Mohamed ElBaradei, share the same views as above, demanding urgent, dramatic changes.

And What the People Say

Ahmad K. who works at Cairo airport says “This man (Morsi) has ruined us; he must go!” Zeinab A. a mid-age university post-grade women who voted for Morsi, firmly shares this view.

Hotel receptionist Ali M., goes further: “He should be hanged for all what he has been doing to us.” And taxi-driver Mustafa G. says that Morsi is a “mad” who has been “drugged” by power and should immediately go away.

In short, whomever you talk to in Cairo would assure “we did not overthrow a dictatorship to now have another dictatorial regime… the revolution has to continue” (to be continued)This is Part I of a series of articles about the current political, social and economic situation in Egypt.

*Baher Kamal is an Egyptian-born, Spanish national, secular, pro-peace and human rights  journalist.  Kamal is Human Wrongs Watch publisher and editor.

This article can be republished –thanks for sourcing and linking to: Human Wrongs Watch


**Image: A protester holding an Egyptian flag during the protests that started on 25 January 2011 | Autuor: The_lion_of_Egyptian_revolution_(Qasr_al-Nil_Bridge).jpg: Kodak Agfa from Egypt | Wikimedia Commons

Read also:

Egypt: Morsi’s Information Minister Accused of Sexual Harassment

What Happened to Egypt’s Dream of Religious Freedom?

US-backed Egyptian Regime Inflames Sectarian Violence

2013 Human Wrongs Watch 

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