- Posted August 19, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protests in Egypt: Your experiences
The Revolution Continues
The interim government’s decision to employ violence to break up Muslim Brotherhood protests and sit-ins at Rabia Al-Adawiyya and Al Nahda was a mistake. This is a group of people who have been forced out of power which they attained by democratic means; many of its members and leadership have also vowed to use violence to defend themselves and further their agenda. When you use violence to force the dissolution of these protests at Rabia and Al Nahda, the group will of course feel that much more justified to employ violence in response.
Certainly, many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s members have actually been linked to terrorism and terrorist groups in the past, but we can not forget that the Freedom and Justice Party was elected by the people and was running the country (albeit poorly) a matter of months ago. We can not expect to simply pull the rug out from under their feet and have them disappear as we inflame them by calling them terrorists. You have to exhaust all political and diplomatic means before resorting to violence. Using violence to simply wipe them out is not only wrong in and of itself, but it is also impractical when looking towards Egypt’s future. If they have really been known to employ terror tactics, do you think they’re going to forget about the massacre that occurred in August 2013 when the supposedly civilian government employed violence to abruptly terminate their demonstrations? Demonstrations which, mind you, exist for the sake of protesting their forced removal from democratic power? They will never forget this. They will never forget all the ‘martyrs’ who died for their cause at the hands of the military/police and they will continue to respond with what we have seen over the past few days. In turn, the military and police will respond by clamping down even harder, by pushing a violent and forceful agenda even further and by suspending basic rights on an even larger scale in order to protect citizens from what may actually morph into a terrorist threat. It is at this stage that the Muslim Brotherhood may actually seek terrorism as a method of pushing its agenda. This, mind you, is the very same terrorism the army used to justify its decision to use force in the first place. The result is the return of the military/police state in Egypt, justified by an actual terrorist threat which the military/police concocted.
Alternatively, I would have liked to see all peaceable, diplomatic, and political options exhausted prior to the decision to clear these people out of their sit-ins by force. Yes, they tried some negotiations, yes, there are horror stories about people dying inside of these protests and storing all kinds of weapons, and yes, they were causing quite a bit of grief for civilians living nearby who wanted nothing to do with any of this. However, none of this legitimates the violence and innocent Egyptians slain to address these concerns. Negotiations failed? Try again. Then…try again…and again…and again. There are people inside who you have leveled charges against? Find a way to get in there and apprehend them. They are causing innocent civilians living nearby to live in fear? Find a way to contain them. I am not just sitting here on my laptop idealistically typing away naive ideas to the army/police/government. You see the problem is not so much about them finding a way, it’s more so about the fact that they did not even try.
The events of this past week have forced me to reconsider what happened on June 30th and July 3rd. Mursi had confused democracy with ballotocracy; viewing his democratic election as a free pass to enforce an authoritative style of government which had denied its people basic human rights, supervised an increase in terrorism and sectarian violence, and prioritized a regional Islamist agenda over the basic needs of the Egyptian people. His removal was demanded by the very people he had been responsible to serve, and he had failed in serving them. There is no question that he needed to go, but for me, there is now a question over the way in which he did.
Opting for a ‘populist-military coup’ or whatever you prefer to call it before trying to work within the existing political infrastructure (no matter how flawed) puts the people at the mercy of the army which, as many Egyptians seem to have forgotten, doesn’t exactly have the best track record. If, as many claim, 30 million people hit the streets on June 30th demanding that President Mursi step down, couldn’t these people have submitted a few viable alternatives at the next parliamentary elections coming up in less than a year? If opposition was that high, couldn’t they have cycled the majority of the Brotherhood out in one election? One may respond (as I once did) that no such political infrastructure existed to begin with; that if these people tried to do this, the irrational and violent Brotherhood would have sacrificed itself and the country before relinquishing power. Well then, why not let them prove their own irrationality and violence to the rest of the country and the world before forcing their removal with a ‘populist-coup’ and giving them every reason to employ such irrationality and violence? Don’t you think 30M people in the streets demanding that an autocratic ruler step down after his parliament refused to respect the results of an election holds a lot more credibility than just going out and demanding his removal before proving that the system is flawed to begin with? Don’t you think that military intervention at this point would force the army to be held accountable to the will of the people to operate within at least a semblance of a democratic political infrastructure?
So the army was basically the sole actor in dissolving the constitution and removing former president Mursi. This allowed the army and police to expand their power in the name of protecting the people which needed its help so desperately. Add in the fact that much of Egypt is viewing this as a binary…’good guys vs. bad guys’ type situation and you lose all the people who disagree with both sides. You lose the true revolutionaries like my cousin who want a truly civilian government, who’d rather try to fix a flawed democratic system before using force to wipe it out. These people are still around but it’s going to be much more difficult for them to make their voices heard when the army employs authoritarianism to re-usher in the military state. Had they just tried to use the political process first it would have at least established credibility across all factions of Egyptian society. It would have proved that Egyptians want to solve things politically before using force and that intention would have been respected for years to come.
As the military and police continue to strengthen their grip and the threat of terrorism continues to become a reality…I worry for the future of the country. It seems that the beautiful revolution of January 25th has been hijacked and tossed back and forth between the hands of powerful giants. I place all of my hope for the future on the shoulders of these true revolutionaries. I count on them to unite and acquire the organization and leadership necessary to gain the power to challenge these giant. I count on them to continue pursuing the goals of January 25th and to see to it that these goals are realized.
The revolutions continues.