- Middle East/North Africa
Islamists’ distorted understanding of democracy — which has divided Palestine between Fatah and Hamas, plunged Algeria into civil war and led to the secession of South Sudan — is what guides the Muslim Brotherhood’s management of Egyptian affairs.
However, to say that Egyptians are divided and that Egypt is on the verge of civil war is erroneous. Egypt is more united than ever — united against one ruling faction that is systematically undermining an inspiring revolution.
The Western media talks about a rift in the population, and the White House spokesperson refuses to call the developments in Egypt a revolution. But Egypt is not divided. Divisions occur when there are two antagonistic popular factions. But when ordinary citizens take to the streets in large numbers, and when institutions and political forces — never before known to act in unison — come together against an organized group, then what we have is a revolution.
Sensing danger, several political institutions and segments of the popular masses have united, brushing aside their differences to overcome the worst nightmare that the country has seen.
This is the first time that the bureaucratic institutions of the deep state have stood opposed to the president. Even before his fall, former President Hosni Mubarak did not lose the support of the pillars of the state. Today, the judges have gone on strike, the Supreme Constitutional Court has suspended its work for the first time in its history, the journalists are protesting and the lawyers are choosing to overlook their discord with the judges.
According to the Muslim Brotherhood’s estimation, preliminary results from the first round of voting in the constitutional referendum suggest that 56.5 percent of voters support the draft, while the “no” camp scored a somewhat unexpectedly high 43.5 percent of the vote.
The National Salvation Front, meanwhile, estimates that more than 60 percent of voters reject the Islamist constitution.
If we take into consideration the massive violations reported during the voting process, these results clearly reflect a decrease in the popular support of the Islamist movement. The Brothers got a majority approval only in the less developed provinces, and they got it through the use of sectarian propaganda bribes.
Following President Mohamed Morsy’s issuing of the 22 November Constitutional Declaration, we felt that a coup was being launched, one that may lead to the hijacking of the state. We saw mass protests in which the majority of participants were ordinary citizens with no partisan or political affiliations. And for the first time, we saw a unified leadership for the secular political forces.
It is true that the feloul (remnants of the Mubarak regime) have joined the ranks of the revolutionaries, but the fact that the feloul have joined hands with the anti-Morsy protesters is illustrative of the amount of danger they feel — not of a conspiracy, as the political leadership likes to claim.
The judges' strike is not a conspiracy against the regime. The fact that the so-called Couch Party, which preferred stability at whatever cost in the past, has abandoned the couch is telling. Entire families that had been opposed to the 25 January revolution decided to take part in the million man protests rocking the country, with hopes of securing a better future for their children.
The unity of journalists from across the political spectrum was prompted by a feeling that freedom of expression is at stake — a freedom which they only gained following years of struggle.
Egyptian Christians, who joined the protests defined by their Egyptian rather than religious identity, were singled out for criticism by extremists such as Safwat Hegazy, Khaled Abdallah and Brotherhood leader Mohamed al-Beltagy, whose extremist minds are unable to conceive that the people are uniting against them.
On the other hand, most of the participants in the protests staged by Islamists are members of organizations who are shipped to the protest sites to create the illusion of mass support. When the Brotherhood's headquarters were besieged and set on fire, ordinary citizens did not spontaneously spring to the defense of those who claim to have popular support. The Brotherhood resorted to terrorist threats after the attacks, saying they had militias to use when the zero hour comes, according to Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater.
Morsy’s failed leadership has also united Egyptians. The government has never been as disoriented, with decisions being made and withdrawn overnight. The state is not run transparently, and the Brotherhood — which is still not a legally registered group — continues to direct Morsy's actions.
Egyptians also harbor fears regarding the developments in Sinai. While the US has lauded Morsy's role in mediating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the suspicious relationship between the Brotherhood and its branch in Gaza evokes fears, particularly as Sinai increasingly becomes a terrorist hub.
Islamists in general are playing on the feelings of people dreaming of a state where Sharia would be implemented. But before that can be done, the jurisprudential legacy of the old scholars needs to be modernized and filtered.
Many Islamists are good willed, but their minds have been molded to a unilateral way of thinking that only accepts absolutes, except when it comes to the words of the so-called sheikhs who abuse religion. Their dream of a Sharia-based state threatens to blow up even those modernization gains that were won under military rule.
Those honest, though extremist, minds were exploited by the US in Afghanistan, and exploited again to kill the dream of an Arab Spring. The US fears that those nations — whose oil it wishes to keep to itself — will wake up. It ignores the fact there are people who live on those lands and who have the right to live in free countries, rather than see the leadership of their states handed over to military, religious and tribal fascists who become marionettes in the hands of sectarian minds.
Islamists were empowered to rise following the downfall of Mubarak, and the same scenario that is unfolding in Egypt is being prepared for in Syria. The Syrian opposition was not recognized by the US until the Syrian National Council was expanded to incorporate the Brotherhood and Islamists.
As the Brotherhood pushed ahead with its coup, disguised in the form of a referendum, they felt quite sure about its outcome, and they were so blinded by their confidence that they forgot that the implementation of the conditions for the IMF's loan — tax hikes — would spark popular fury.
They only realized what was happening when the anger on the streets promised to turn to a hunger revolution.
The paradoxes on the political scene remind us of the story of two women who both claimed to be mothers of the same child. The woman who was lying did not mind if the child was ripped apart to share between them. Likewise, Islamists seem to insist on leading the nation to destruction, just to get their share of power.
For thousands of years, Egypt has not witnessed civil war. And it will not. The talk about civil war is a form of terrorism, and Egyptians know all about it. The good news, amid this tragedy, is that Egyptians are willing to pay the price for freedom.