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Dispatch From Giza

Why are We in the Streets?

by MOHAMED MALIK and MOHAMAD OMAR

Giza, Egypt.

We are demonstrating in front of Cairo University in Giza to defend the rule of law: what we call ‘Shar’iyya’ or legitimacy. This could easily be confused by some in the Western media with ‘Sharī’a’ or Islamic law.

It is not news that Morsi is now held in the Republican Guard Building by Gen. Mohsin Shazly. But there was news yesterday from Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi), who reported on leaks from associates of Defense Chief and Coup leader, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, on his Facebook page. There he shows that the latest bloodbath in front of the Republican Guard Building was planned in order to weaken Morsi’s resolve. Chief of Staff Sidqi Subhi had visited Morsi’s cell several times in vain in order to intimidate him to agreeing to either formally resign or be restored as a figurehead President with symbolic powers.

The Muslim Brotherhood is usually portrayed in the media as some kind of a Satanic organization that is keen on imposing ‘Sharī’a’ in Egypt, while this is in fact a Salafist agenda. There is perhaps a lack of understanding of the difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in the West. The Muslim Brotherhood is not a religious organization in the traditional sense; its main focus has been to promote democracy and political freedoms among Egypt’s citizens, as well as charitable and social programs among the country’s poor and working class.

The demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood has been the policy for over thirty-years of the Mubarak régime in order to justify its repressive rule. This corrupt régime has been the recipient of $1.5B from US taxpayers every year. But whatever one thinks of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is a small group within the Egyptian population as a whole, and yet there are Egyptians from all walks of life gathered here today in demonstrations around the country against the military régime, in support of the rule of law.

Baltagies or ‘thugs’ paid and recruited by Egypt’s corrupt security apparatus are an everyday feature of our lives. Many of these thugs are prisoners on probation who are also controlled by the police, and paid to cause mayhem and destruction, including committing rapes and murder. As of late many were gathered at Tahrir Square and committed at least 100 rapes as reported by the Health ministry. They are also seen on the edges of the anti-Morsi demonstrations ‘clashing’ with whomsoever they are ordered to ‘clash’ with. When reporters talk of ‘clashes’ between pro and anti-Morsi demonstrators, it is always the case that these thugs fight on the side of the anti-Morsi element, and their intervention usually ends up with casualties.

For news that doesn’t follow the régime’s agenda, the Al-Hiwar channel from London has replaced all the Islamic satellite channels which have been closed down by the régime. There is much discussion there about the latest bloodbath in front of the Republican Guard Building, and contradictory video footage taken by both Muslim brotherhood members and members of the military are submitted for inspection and discussed.  As in the case of video footage from the conflict in Syria, it becomes impossible to tell who did what to whom. All that we are left with are the dead men, women and children and the facts that those men, women and children were actually praying at the time of death, and that they were shot in the back with army issue bullets.

For those that are confused about the bigger picture, and why all this is happening, a  recent interview between ex-British PM and ‘Middle-East Envoy’ Tony Blair and broadcaster Krishnan Guru Murthy on London’s Channel 4 News is discussed, which brings some light as to the views of some international leaders. In that interview Blair said that the military ‘intervention’ was absolutely necessary in order to rescue the economy from collapse. But was it?

Morsi’s government had faced a hidden plot from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to undermine it, including cutting off the supply of oil products causing, among other things, massive fuel shortages and queues at the gas pumps. The military coup actually took place just as Morsi began to solve this problem through new contracts from oil products with Iraq. In fact, after the coup, we were surprised to find that shipments of oil supplies from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have suddenly resumed.

The economy under Morsi was, given the circumstances, actually doing rather well, despite the constant attacks by the ‘baltagies’ on crucial road junctions, railway lines, hotels, and tourist destinations. In fact, the supply chain of crucial commodities to the poor has been completely revamped under Morsi, as waste and corruption were largely curtailed.

As far as we can see, the people in the streets have no intention of coming to an agreement with the military in order to provide them with a democratic cover for their tyranny. We have begun to understand Morsi’s apparent stubbornness in his desire to follow the principles of democracy absolutely, although perhaps not ‘pragmatically’. While ‘pragmatism’ is an important quality in politics, it can easily turn into actions that are corrupt and unjust, unless there is already a structure to the country’s social fabric that is democratic.

What is being built now is this very democratic structure to the nation, something which it has never had. Although majoritarianism can seem to be somewhat blinkered, Egypt is a fairly homogeneous society, unlike other Middle-Eastern nations. The quite complex AV+ voting system does give the ability for many non-party list independents to stand for Parliament, which can greatly offset any potentially unfairness in the majoritarian process.

Therefore when we say we are in the streets to defend ‘Shar’iyya’ or the rule of law, it is because this is not the time for pragmatism, it is the time for putting into place the structure of a new nation that can be strong enough in the future to allow politicians to practice their pragmatic skills without harming the nation.

Mohamed Mālik can be reached at malektex@hotmail.com.

Mohamad Omar  (surgeon), can be reached at m.omar84@yahoo.com). 

Also contributed to this report: Badr Mohamad Badr (teacher), Yasser Mahran (lawyer), Ahmad Abdel-Ghafar (businessman) Hossam Elzomor  (journalist), Sayed Khamis (teacher), Mohamad Gheith (pharmacist), others -whom we thank – have also helped in its redaction.