- Middle East/North Africa
I wish to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the “Sons of Cosmos,” the winning team of last Thursday’s soccer tournamentheld in front of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam. In the final match, they triumphed, 3-2, over the “Hassan El-Panda” team, may he rest in peace.
That was no joke. The tournament was indeed held, and was merely one of many manifestations scatteredaround the streets of Egypt expressing“civil contempt”against the authority of the Muslim Brotherhood, the wretchednessof which has arrived at the point that Egyptians are now engaging in a wide and open dialogue around a proposed military coup as a way out of the crisis.
Societal dialogue appears to be quite “democratic” in debating the very “value of democracy” and the “election” of a military coup, to a point that makes it possible to imagine a coup as a voting option in the nearest upcoming elections. Why not? Is democracy not simply resorting to the ballot box? Why can’tpeople then turn to the boxesto freely choose military rule? Why can’t people turn to the boxes to decide whether democracy is of any use at all?
And since democratic values are alien values brought upon us by the West, authoritarian Islamists are able to pick and choose the parts of these values that fit with our“identity”and with their authoritarian Islamist discourse. Why can’t supporters of military rule also be able to pick out parts of those democratic values that appeal to them, in pursuit of an alternative identity immersed in military authoritarianism and tyranny?
Despite my disdain forcalls to the army to step in, I don’t believe the authoritarian Islamists are any more democratic than the authors of these calls, perhaps only more “Boxocratic.”Authoritarian Islamists are the threat abusing the very origin of the idea of democracy via ballot boxes,which drives another panic-stricken party to castoffthe entire democratic process.
Exercising democracy is either based on a desire to strive forliberty, equality and justice,in the form of guarantees and a tentative agreement, and thus democratic mechanisms become tools to pursue these values, engaging people in achieving them. Otherwise,it becomes an absurd “Boxocracy”;merely a contest for the “rule of the most in number.” He who wins the largest number of votes shall thereafter enjoy power, and his authoritarian longings will be deemed legitimate.
This doctrine is what prevents authoritarian Islamists from seeingthe expressions of resistanceto their project and outcry against their failed administration as anything butschemes by“opposing powers,”which they scorn for their weak electoral capabilities. They do not see people wanting a life of freedom and dignity, for they are not organized, they have not formed or joined political parties, and they have no plans to take over the country and the world.
This “Boxocratic” outlook does not see“objectors”concerned fortheir rights and their future. They instead force them to essentially join the opposition, to organize, form a team and register for the “Boxocracy”tournament. “Boxocracy” asks that a person turns their life into a project to dominate and compete for speaking in the name of the people’s will, replacing a democracy that resistsall forms of supremacyover people, so that people are liberated fromtotalitarianism and live a life of freedom and dignity. Democracy moves in a direction that attempts to dismantle all that is authoritarian in policy and administration, in order to liberate people's lives.“Boxocracy,” however, tends to wager people’s lives on politics and the struggle for power and domination.
The idea of democracy is still in the first stages of being achieved, and its audience is torn between trusting it or abandoning it. People are dreaming instead of “reasonable”tyrants, like Nasser, or even settling for a less charismatic, despondent version, the likes of the military council, to face the Islamistboxocrats.
But the foundation of the idea of democracy, far from the formal process, erupts in anger on the streets. Objectors have no choice but to leave their lives and join the political battle field, rather than leave their affairs in the hands of a lame winner who is only good at the ballot game and wants them to play as extras in his failed sectarian authoritarian venture. When“Boxocracy”fails in laying the foundations for meeting in the middle, ideas of secession and independence emerge, which, as farcical as they may seem at the present moment, are of great significance: Why continuefighting your authoritarian tendencies which we do not find agreeable in just one ballot-box contest?Surely you can have your box and we’ll have ours?
Ata sugarcane juice shop, a young Muslim Brotherwith his nicely kept beard faced,with his preaching smile, afloodof harsh criticism from Hassan, the shop owner, and his customers against Morsy, the Brotherhood and their government. The young man courageously rose above the criticism and asked them to watch credible satellite channels to get a true idea of what is really happening.
One of them asked: “Like for example, Egypt 25 Channel, with Mr. Khamis, who is ridiculed by Bassem Youssef on his show every Friday?”
The young man’s smile narrowed as he found no recourse but to step over the whole conversation and revertto the origin of his political doctrine, saying, “Alright then, instead of all this talk, it’s better you go organize yourselves and get ready for the next elections and let people say their word at the ballot-boxes. Then you can run the country however you see best.”
In suspicious unison, some of the customers began complaining of severe testicular pain, while Hassan went on feeding the canes into the juicing machine, and said without even looking at the young man: “Ok mister, give me one second…I will go organize and be right back”.
May God forgive Hassan El-Banna,and better luck for "Hassan El-Panda" in upcoming tournaments.
This article was translated from Al-Masry al-Youm Arabic websiteby AmaniMassoud
AmrEzzat is a columnist at Al-Masry Al-Youm and researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.