This is an open letter from an Egyptian young political activist who was born and raised on Mubarak’s regime, hated it, and hated the police state and the political negativity around the country. Hated how our families dealt with politics as if it was nuclear biohazard and always told us to keep our heads down and away from it.
The intent of this article is to give every foreigner living outside the Egyptian border and not involved in our political dilemma a better understanding of the current crisis from a unbiased overview and stating the facts that led to this situation.
The Fall of Mubarak
In 2010 during the parliamentarian elections we have seen our corruption reached its peak when the national democratic party won 99%of the seats of the lower house, and in same year we witnessed the excessive use of force by the police against Khaled Saeed, who was murdered as a result of police brutality and became one of the main sparks of our revolution.
On the 25th of January 2011, the free Egyptian youth and some of the political movements such as the ‘6th of April’ and Kefaya and others, participated in big demonstrations. These protests were initially calling for changing the government, and then the demands escalated to the ouster of Mubarak and his whole regime.
After Mubarak’s ouster a referendum took place in March 2011 under the auspices of SCAF. The military ruling council made mistakes in breaking up many demonstrations such as Mohamed Mahmoud and council of ministries which led to the death of many protestors. At the time the Muslim Brotherhood was too busy preparing for parliamentarian elections and those crimes were buried.
Islamists rise to power
Parliamentary elections started at the end of 2011. The results resulted in the majority of the parliament having an Islamic background, composed of the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP and the Salafi Nour Party.
From this moment the Egyptian people started to see the behavior of the Islamic parties and their mentalities and some of them were shocking. While we are trying to build a country and community, most of their decisions and bills were irrelevant or of little impact to the economy, which is the main issue.
Moreover, presidential elections took place despite some aggravating laws that was issued by the High presidential election commission, such as article 20 which immunized all decisions issued from any appeal.
The Presidential Election- Two bad choices
One of the biggest dilemmas the Egyptian community faced was at the final stage. We ended up with the worst of two options, two undesirable political figures.
The first candidate Mohamed Morsi was FJP president and MB member who was originally filling the place of Khayrat El Shatter, the main presidential candidate for them. Therefore people lost respect for Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi as a figure.
The second candidate was Ahmed Shafik who was from Mubarak’s regime. Some felt they would be betraying the revolution by voting for him, and many people agreed with this because of the stupidity of the opposition.
Morsi won the presidential elections with 52%, and many people argued it was the perfect timing for Muslim Brotherhood to seize the opportunity, and prove their capabilities to run the country and unite the revolutionaries around them. The leadership of the Muslim brotherhood, or The Freedom and Justice Party, should seize this chance to implement their projects and plans to develop the economy that talked about when they were the opposition during Mubarak’s era. Morsi promised to fulfill his promises within 100 days.
The Governance of Morsi
Morsi failed to fulfill his promises in the 100 days, the traffic problems were the same, bread faced many obstacles to reach the right people, security was still a serious question, and roads were not safe. The Minister of Interior changed three times during Morsi’s presidential time.
Morsi started his presidency with some positive points such as eliminating military figures from Mubarak’s regime like Tantawi and Anan. Most of the Egyptian people felt it’s a good step toward a more new democratic country.
Morsi then offered the general prosecutor, Abd el Megid Mahmoud, an honorary position as ambassador to the Vatican but he refused. Therefore Mursi issued a constitutional declaration to dismiss him and immunized the Shurah council from being dissolved. He then appointed a new general prosecutor, Talaat Abdallah, without consulting with the high justice council or negotiating with them, destroying the concept of separation of powers and rule of law.
Further, he dissolved the constituent assembly responsible for drafting the constitution, promising to to form a harmonized constituent assembly from Islamist, Copts, liberals, civil forces and scholars. But he failed to do that.
The majority of his new constitution drafting group was Islamists and ignored constitutional scholars and liberal forces, this led to the withdrawal of liberal, civil representatives, and Copts from drafting the constitution. However, Morsi blessed this defective constitution by setting a date for referendum, the constitution passed by 64% with absence of true observation from either national or international observers who were not organized in time..
Most of the Egyptian people expected Mursi would start resorting to the opposition leadership like Baradi, Hamdin Sabahi or Abu el Fotouh and gather the brilliant minds like Ahmed Zewel and Magdi Yakoub to form a technocratic government. But none of his chosen ministers were effective, to the extent that the country faced extreme lack of petrol, a significant lack of energy and seemingly one serious problem after another.
Conflict with the Judges
The Supreme Constitutional Court was under siege for more than a week, to force them not to rule upon the case of dissolving the Shurah Council. At the same time the, Shurah council was preparing bills against the judiciary and decreasing the age of retirement from 70 to 65, which was taken as an insult to the judges and would force many active leaders to retire.
Many prosecutors and judges became involved in the political situation by either supporting the Muslim Brotherhood or the liberal and civil front. Involvement of the judiciary in the political issues increased the conflict between the ruling party and them.
Rise of Religious Rhetoric
Religious speech was getting more aggressive and hatred increased to an extent that near the end of Morsi’s presidency, a speech was given in football stadium in Nasr City by Islamist leaders before the planned ‘30th of June’ anti Morsi protests..
The speech was supposed to show support for the Syrian case, but it turned to threats against opposing opinions and kept stating that they will vanish anyone who is going to protest against Morsi. They denounced those who support the “30th of June” protests against Morsi as infidels. At about the same time 4 Shia were murdered by 300 extremists in a town near Giza.
Street problems mount
Moreover, the nation had many the interior problems, from car theft to lack of petrol and diesel, to water and electricity being cut off. These problems took place all over Cairo, from the best neighbor hoods to the worst.
We then found a regional problem with Ethiopia. They were planning to build a dam which will affect our share of the Nile water.
The media dealt with this issue as a catastrophe and focused on it in an absurd way.
After the Government started negotiating with Ethiopia; Morsi, his government and many political leaders had a secret meeting on the issue. In the meeting members of the government suggested sending spies to sabotage the dam or openly striking it. The absurd solutions were distributed to the public because those in the meeting didn’t know it was being broadcast live.
The meeting and the leaders conduct at it, was one of the breaking points where the people no longer supported Mursi, and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.
30th of June Protests
So overall, Morsi made many mistakes which made most of the Egyptian people align with Tamrod, or rebels, to get their rights, demonstrating on the streets on 30th of June.
The first demand for them was to change the government and then it escalated to early presidential elections, but Morsi ignored the demands and numbers of the protestors on the streets.
As a result of these strong demonstrations and with the absence of the Islamists supporters from the streets, on the 4th of July, general el Sessi announced the ouster of Morsi. He declared the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court the interim president for the country, declared a road map that the political forces agreed upon.
After Morsi’s ouster, the sit-in’s in at Rabaa and in Nahda were filled with thousands of people demonstrating against the ouster of an elected president. They were disturbing the whole area by blocking roads and preventing people from going to their home. Some of them were armed with weapons, but not all of them.
Negotiations failed with Muslim Brotherhood leadership, hate speech increased and rumors about kidnapping and tortures inside both sit-ins were driving the country into a critical stage of national security.
The public rejected the marches going filling the streets and blocking the main roads, but all of the above were not a justification to kill 700 people demonstrating with women and children.
The brutality and excessive use of force from the police and/or the army gave the Egyptian people and international community the impression of returning back to the police state that is completely rejected by all.
Clarifications for the international media and community
In the end, I would like to clarify a few issues and two main questions for our readers:
1-Why the Egyptian people are supporting general Sissi and SCAF after all what happened during Tantawi and Anan?
The Egyptian people are supporting general Sissi and military intervention. The main reason is because of the the above-mentioned reasons and incidents that took place during Morsi’s ruling. Most Egyptians saw the Muslim Brotherhood as another version of Mubarak’s regime. The only way out was with the army through SCAF to eliminate the domination of the MB.
2- Why are the Egyptian people not sympathetic toward Muslim Brotherhood anymore-with many supporting their complete elimination and imprisonment?
People are not sympathetic toward the Muslim Brotherhood, because most their speeches in Rabaa were threatening and encouraging hatred toward all opposition leaders and the army. They started to introduce themselves as terrorist groups who will use chaos and gun attacks in Sinai, if Morsi didn’t return to his position.
And finally, the international community must understand that most of the media covering the news in Egypt, are bias either toward Muslim Brotherhood, or toward the police forces and the army and the way general Sissi is managing the transitional period.
With all due respect to media channels, none of them are broadcasting the real truth. Many innocents were killed on both sides. The sit-ins had weapons inside and some of them used them, which led to the killing of more than 100 officers. As a result of the weapons used against police, they reacted and killed over 700 protestors.
Blame and reconciliation
Therefore both sides have made mistakes. Both sides murdered and have guns. And both chose the worst scenario to solve this political conflict.
The only way out of this crisis is to return to the negotiating table between the MB leaders and interim government (Not represented by Sissi).
The bloodshed will never stop and the Muslim Brotherhood is not going to stop providing martyrs for their cause. There is too big portion who believe it is a war on Islam, and they must fight against those radicals in the army who try to eliminate Islamists from the political situation.
Therefore the true leadership of the country from both sides, Islamists and liberals and civil front, should return to the table and start negotiating by any means and reach a solution that will satisfy both sides and help us to have an elected president and parliament as soon as possible.
Salem Mostafa Kamel is an Egypt based legal and political analyst who has worked for several international organizations. He has an LL.M degree from Indiana University and is pursuing another LL.M from Loyola University of Chicago.