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Galvanized in the Streets

There’s Still Hope for the Egyptian Revolution

by WAEL ESKANDER

Millions of Egyptians took to the streets. It’s safe to say 30 June were the biggest protests in the history of Egypt. There are speculations as to what galvanized that many people to take to the streets, was it revolutionary activists, was it Tamarod (a campaign to collect no confidence votes against Morsi), was it opposition, was it the Felool (remnants of the old regime) or was it state elements like the intelligence services or the army.

The answer can be all or many of the above in varying degrees, but the most accurate answer to the question is the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). One need only look at the Brotherhood’s performance since becoming a dominant political player on the Egyptian scene to understand why such large numbers have mobilized against them. They are supremacists who broke every pledge they made, excluded everyone including their potential allies and refused to share both power and responsibility for the country’s fate. They have even managed to alienate the long-time state serving judiciary and police who have and could have gladly continued to help the MB eliminate those opposed to the state.

The MB’s legitimacy was obliterated when following a model similar to the Mubarak regime which was deligitimized by the people. People were further enraged by religious fascism propagated by the Brotherhood and a furtherance of state sponsored sectarianism. Security forces continue to act with impunity. Instead of wealth redistribution, MB leaders are trying to replace Mubarak’s elite and moreover trying to impose a moral order that infringes on personal freedoms.

Unlike the 25 January protests in 2011 which were largely prompted by police brutality under the Mubarak regime, the goal was set this time for the Muslim Brotherhood to leave, personified in the person of Mohamed Morsi. But just like over two years back, people can only agree on what they don’t want. Everyone on the street is there for a reason. The Felool supporters want to restore their role in the order of things, some are suffering from a severe poverty that hasn’t been bettered by the worsening economic condition, others feel the little freedoms they had under Mubarak have been infringed upon, security forces are angry at how the MB have handled foreign policy and Sinai and long-time revolutionaries are there to remove yet another oppressive power hijacking revolutionary goals.

More people are being born into this revolution every day. Many are calling for the military to step in and remove the Muslim Brotherhood seeing them as the only possible powerful alternative to do so. This has caused a few long time revolutionaries to despair because the military has completely mishandled the transition, killing, torturing and locking up many protesters and moreover allying itself with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is also unlikely that the army will want to bring about change to benefit the people and address revolutionary demands due to its vast economic interests that it will not compromise.

In the end, the army may take over the political reigns for a while in what resembles a coup but the revolution so far has been a series of political coups opposed by the people when they brought about oppression.

Revolutionaries are also aware they have not created a powerful alternative for people to trust in and reach out to. Many who have been participating relentlessly for over two years are optimistic about the numbers who turned up on the street acknowledge the fight. Direct action is becoming widely accepted and adopted as a means of change. The constant rhetoric that problems should be addressed through political parties and legal means is being challenged. This may mean that until a system is set up whereby change can be effected through elections and organizations, people will give legitimacy to street politics and actions.

The people may be cheering for the army today, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be silently cheated out of their rights.  The hope is that some of those who took to the streets adopt a positions that are value-driven rather than loyalty-driven. There is hope they will continue their path and see things for what they are and be fooled less by politicians and propaganda. There is hope that the revolution that was founded on human dignity started calling for bread, freedom and social justice will continue until those demands are delivered. There is hope that even if we go through another dark tunnel, there will be light. There is hope.

Wael Eskander is a journalist who has written for  Ahram Online and other publications.