Tens of thousands – perhaps millions even – of Egyptians took to the streets once more yesterday, June 30, 2013. Some claim yesterday’s protests were the largest in human history.
I was not among them. Neither were most of my close friends and family, all of whom participated in the January 25 Revolution.
I have spent months following what has been happening in Egypt and, like so many others, perhaps the majority of Egyptians, I have been getting increasingly frustrated with Morsi and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.
Their performance in parliament before its dissolution, along with other Islamists, was abysmal. They were unorganized, they failed to focus their attentions where they were most needed, and there was almost a complete lack of a participatory spirit with the rest of the country. They wanted things done a certain way and that was what they were going to do.
Of course, this is what ruling parties do all over the world, not only in Egypt. The difference in our case is that we are in a process of establishing the ground rules for Egyptian democracy. For this process to be successful, all elements of Egyptian society must participate and have a voice. Islamists did everything in their power to dampen or even stifle that voice.
I did not want a Muslim Brotherhood president. Having been a member among them many years ago while a student in university, I knew their shortcomings first hand. I wanted no part in their vision for an “Islamic” Egypt. I nullified my vote in the last phase of Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential elections. I could not get myself to vote either for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate nor for the candidate that had worked so closely with Mubarak. I believed at the time that we hadn’t yet, as revolutionaries, gotten it all right. The revolution must continue until we get the right process in place. This wasn’t the democracy I had fought for. Nevertheless, when Morsi won the elections, I was so happy that I cried. It seemed to me that the days of Mubarak and his regime had ended.
Clearly they had not. That was simply one of many naïve moments of mine. Mubarak’s supporters continue to thrive in our midst. Throughout the past three years they have connived and strategized. If anything, they are survivors. They are blamed by many for a lot of the problems we have faced in Egypt since the revolution: security issues, violence, thuggery, and continuing corruption.
The day I nullified my vote during the presidential elections, I wrote a blog post saying that I had chosen, instead, the revolution. I believed that if enough Egyptians did the same as I had then a clear message was being sent: we are not all right with this process. We are not all right with the constitution and how it was drafted. We are not all right with a former Mubarak cabinet minister participating in presidential elections. We need to get all this right BEFORE we elect a president. Not enough people did as I had. The majority of voters spoke. Muslim Brotherhood Morsi won the elections.
And so once again I conceded to the majority vote. Since Mubarak’s ousting we had voted on several things: a referendum on some basic changes to the constitution, a referendum on major changes to the constitution, parliamentary elections, and presidential elections. Throughout this whole process I was always in the minority. I was not OK with the basic changes that were made to the constitution shortly after the revolution had ended, I was not OK with major changes that were made to it by a majority of Islamists, I did not vote for any Islamists to join parliament, and I was completely disillusioned with the process and the candidates in place for the presidential elections. But I am a single voice among millions. The majority had spoken. So had I. If it was democracy that I wanted I had to learn to concede to the majority vote.
It is because of this that I would not have joined yesterday’s protests in Egypt had I been there (I am in the UK for the summer). The main demand of yesterday’s protesters was for President Morsi to leave. I absolutely understand the mistakes Morsi has made over the past year. I never wanted the man or his party in that position in the first place. But he arrived into his position with the support of a majority of voters. For him to leave that position it would have to be with the support of a majority of voters as well. If the protesters’ main demand was for early presidential elections, I would be more understanding. But the main voice that I hear is one telling him to simply leave. Yes. This voice comes from tens of thousands of Egyptians. But what about what remains of the country’s 80 million? How is their voice being heard? The only way to hear that voice is to go back to the boxes.
I am also gravely concerned with the lack of any clear plan from the opposition for what happens AFTER/IF Morsi “leaves”. There is talk of setting up a committee of people who represent the various factions of Egyptian society who will supervise the interim process until another president is elected. How do I make sure that I am represented in this committee? Will there be elections for it? Do the opposition groups have it in them to work together to begin with? The main reason that we ended up with a Muslim Brotherhood vs Pro-Mubarak choice in the presidential elections, each in my view worse than the other, was that the opposition groups could not work together and come up with one single candidate to represent them all. We ended up with a ridiculous number of presidential candidates to choose from. Fragmented in this way, only the Muslim Brotherhood and the former National Democratic Party had enough supporters to secure a mass vote. Has the opposition solved its problems? Is there one single strong candidate amongst them that we can all rally behind? Not that I can see.
What I would have much rather seen, since they all massively fucked up in the build-up to the constitutional referendum, the parliamentary elections, and the presidential elections, was for the opposition to learn its lessons and spend some time building themselves up and establishing strong alternatives to future MB candidates, whether in parliament or for president. Personally, I would much rather have seen things gone very differently from the very beginning post-revolution. But truth be told, only the MBs had the unity, strength, and political support to get the votes that were needed for leaders to be put into place to lead the processes that ensued.
I understand the mistrust of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party by tens of thousands of Egyptians right now. But to me, what has been happening in Egypt among politicians, intellectuals, and the “vocal” revolutionaries who claim to represent the masses during television appearances (they don’t, if you ask me) looks like a group of headless chickens running wildly in the fields. “Let’s go this way! No. Wait! Let’s go this way! No. Wait! This way looks much better!” On and on and on and on. If they were all going in the same confused direction it might have been OK. But each headless chicken is going in a different direction only to choose a new direction ten seconds later.
It is this confusion from “the opposition” (who are they anyway?) that I am sick of and that makes me as distrustful of them as I am of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sit down together, figure things out, establish a strong unified leadership, provide alternatives, show me that you want to build a strong Egypt and not just oust the Islamists who you so despise, work on the ground…REALLY work…address issues such as poverty, the economy, security, health, education, etc…and stop whining on TV 24/7. I am SICK OF IT!
Good for you, “opposition”, that so many people took to the streets yesterday to support you. But what next? What next?? As an observer I see no clear plan and no unified front. As an observer you have given me cause to distrust you, your intentions, and your ability to actually perform.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets yesterday. It was quite impressive. But what of the tens of millions of Egyptians who did not? The only way to know what Egyptians really want is to go back to the ballot boxes and ask them. It is those ballot boxes that I fought so hard for during the January 25 Revolution. Do NOT take them away from me.