There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that we, the Egyptian people, have been outwitted.
There are very few moments in time that decide the course of history. They come every 50 years, once a century, or even further apart. Our generation’s Moment was January 25, 2011. A critical build-up of recent events amassed the emotions of an already seething Egyptian population and our Moment was born. Millions of Egyptians took to the streets for 18 days…blah blah blah… We all know the story. And we know the ugliness that followed.
Providence gave us a moment because we were able to unite as a people when it really mattered. We saw our chance and held onto it for a full 18 days. And that’s why the story ends there. If a Moment is to truly change the course of history, its people must hold onto it and never let it go. We let go after 18 days and went back to our old ways of conniving, distrusting, and power struggling.
Egyptians are a nation of people who pride themselves on their street smarts. We are witty, we drive a hard bargain, and we have our eyes on you. That is what we’ll tell you. Don’t believe it. The reality is that we are very easily deceived. All it takes is for our “opponent” to treat us as if he believes we’re as smart as we think we are.
We insisted on deposing Mubarak. Mubarak “stepped down”. We may never know if he did this completely willingly or if the army dealt a heavy hand. The latter seems a tad more likely. There was a situation that needed to be contained. And there was an opportunity – perhaps – that was ripe for the taking.
We insisted on elections. We got them. The Brotherhood and the remnants of Mubarak’s dissolved National Democratic Party had a strong enough infrastructure and support on the ground to produce two strong candidates. All other parties and groups completely failed to unite. It was almost inevitable. And someone had the insight to know it.
In elections, the majority of voters chose the Brotherhood to take Parliament and to take the presidency. It was only a matter of time. As the days and the weeks went by; as the police, the army, and the judiciary made sure to support a state of chaos and insecurity on the ground; as the Brotherhood made one major fuck-up after another; the Egyptian people grew weary and wary. It was almost inevitable. And someone had the insight to know it.
If there’s something weird
And it don’t look good
Who you gonna call?
Why, the Egyptian military, of course.
Egyptians had reached a stage of exhaustion, frustration, and fed-upedness with the Brotherhood plus the general state of affairs that they were in need of a hero. We are a nation of people who glorify heroes. We always have. We glorify our ancestors. We glorify our parents. We glorify our presidents and leaders. We glorify our religious scholars. And almost above all else, we glorify our warriors.
And a hero we were given. Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, rose from the ashes of the Brotherhood in all his Nasser-like glory and promised the Egyptian people heaven. With the help of a propaganda machine that has a thorough understanding of the Egyptian mind-set, we groveled at Sisi’s feet with utmost sincerity.
In he dashed with his heavy artillery and rid us of our “enemy”. And we danced and sang. Anyone who made enough trouble for Al-Sisi to notice him was thrown in jail. No more troubles. The Egyptian people were fed up with trouble. Al-Sisi was here to restabilize our country. And as we rejoiced, we found ourselves convinced that we wanted him to stay.
And thus, despite growing numbers of educated and very talented Egyptians (we say of ourselves that if an Egyptian goes to work and learn abroad he reaches the highest levels of that society); despite a sort of an underlying desire of the Egyptian people to have a democracy; despite our “street smarts”; because of our still high levels of illiteracy and close-mindedness to the world; because of a lacking understanding of democratic process; because of our short sightedness; because of our impatience; and because of our naivety; we find that we removed one military leader only to grovel and bring another in his place.
We all keep asking ourselves: Where did we go wrong? What were the alternatives? What are the alternatives now?
If you ask me, I’d say that when the non-Brotherhood non-NDP parties failed to come together in a real united front, it was then that we lost our Revolution. But certainly there are many more terribly complex factors that led us to where we are now.
In the end, our biggest mistake was letting go of our Moment in our jubilation of deposing one man. For it was not merely one man most of us were revolting against. We were revolting against a regime. We were revolting against oppression. We were revolting against corruption. We let go of our Moment before any of that was even addressed. And that is when we were at our weakest as a people: in our strongest Moment.
It takes very little insight to see that our generation has lost its chance. It may take another 20, 50, or 100 years for a new history-changing moment to arrive in Egypt. All I can say is that if we’re not here when it comes, our children will be. And all I can hope is that when it does come, we will have learned our lesson and we will hold onto that moment for dear life and never ever let it go.
Egypt faces a social and political crisis since the elections. Unfortunately, this crisis has effected society in Egypt tremendously and it will only negatively have an impact on the masses until they learn to accept political views, be given their rights and until the country is economically stable.
tourism and the economy falls down
A serious and worthwhile issue to highlight. You’ve summarized the topic very well. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!
I still can’t believe how things really collapsed. I love Egypt and I hope from the bottom of my heart that peace and tranquility my rule for all.
What wrong with democrazy?
we should care that should be ready in power. whether the trust or a dictator?
so I guess that means America (and Israel, Britain, etc.) has not lost its grip on Egypt? That is sad. Since it’s the Egyptian military that is receiving all the American money, maybe they can never be defeated by force, maybe you should concentrate on the democracy they all claim to support, beat them at their own sick game. Go back to that moment you say it slipped away, pick it up there and start to build those other parties you need.
I get this blogger well written and expressed point. Out of the fire, into the frying pan and out into the fire once more. How bad will Al-Sisi be? How will he be different, if different atl all?
Thank you for this insightful post. People do have the power to evoke change. Egyptians have proven this time and again. Have faith and keep the Spirit!
sad, not enough support
for the have nots
to overcome the haves.
just don’t destroy the Sphinx and the Pyramids
I’m not sure which is worse: a military dictatorship or an Islamic dictatorship. Great opinion piece btw.
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I can see how that thought might seem inevitable. Egypt might have stopped all the flash and giant movements, for the moment. But perhaps political movements are more like relationships – they start all energy and passion but the good ones, the ones that stick , settle in to quiet commitment.
You are no longer on the streets but if revolution is still in your heart, if you’re willing to work for what you want, bit by bit it will happen.
This is a very interesting view point straight from Egypt. One that we certainly do not get in the United States. I fear the same for my country as the citizens slowly stand up for rights. However the Republican and Democratic views within the separate parties will continue to leave us separated and I am not sure if we can ever get the small minds that continue choosing one side to understand. I want them to understand how picking a side blindly can lead to further destruction. The world needs to learn to stand as a world and it has to stop being divided by religion. Love rules all and I do not mean sex by saying Love. Until we have free energy and we keep being owned by the almighty Gold oil and Diamonds we are screwed. I am just one in billions and this opinion here will probably not stop a war. I just hope these words hit someone in the gut and they now understand what God they worship.
You’re going to compare struggles of the revolution in Egypt to current “rights” in the United States? That is offensive to these people fighting for basic rights and democracy. What “rights” are you denied here?
We have been denied our own land because Monsanto lied to the farmers. People are waking up every day learning they have cancer. Ask any American they will tell you a friend, themselves, or a relative is battling cancer. .
I did not mean to offend by what I said. Nor was I trying to compare. I was trying to say that we need to stop worshipping the currency. We need to help others and love others as much as we possibly can. We need to stop worshipping those who are rich and make ourselves rich from the inside out. Hollywood is a joke. We can do this through clean fresh pure water and organic food for every person everywhere. There is no reason why we should have one homeless person on the street in the world.
Different religions and cultures need to be kept sacred not destroyed. I believe every soul has a story and every story contains a valuable lesson to learn from
But as I said before I do wish love to every person I encounter both here and abroad. If it helps I am doing my part by being vegan. It takes 1600 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. What I am trying to say is I am not someone that just sits behind a computer and preaches love. It is really my life to love everyone and to never do harm.
Comparing countries across the globe does not do any good because one human life is not better then another human life. In my brain I focus on every person in the globe not people as a whole. I believe every person deserves a fair chance, clean water, freedom of belief, thought, and clean food. I also do not believe one Government system should be forced upon someone else.
Once again I am not trying to offend just trying to make sense of this crazy world.
By war I met the end of the world type war. I probably should have been clear on that one. 🙂 Sometimes my wording is horrible.
Thank you for you insight. Question: Why have the non-xyz parties failed to build a united front? Could they have a dialog today?
I wish the Egyptian people good luck and hope one day they enjoy the fruits of democracy.
I am sure that this is just a minor setback and the Egyptians will rise again as history does repeat itself.
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Great insight. Sad though, but understandable. Hope you hold to the beauty of your moment. Egypt in my agenda. Will see you soon.
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I know you will “have your chance” again soon, just as I know we in America will also have our chance to reclaim our lost liberties and freedoms, and take back our country from the same oppressive forces that shackle yours, and most of the world at this point . . . cheers to that!
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The fruits of democracy are a thin line btw ones rights and whats right. There are no fruits. its a live and let live. Unless Egypt starts to see herself as free nation not in need of leader/warrior or pharoah… then, the next 100 years it shall be.
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never give up
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Completely agree that all the way back to the beginning at the end of the 18 days was the key moment. But perhaps a close second is when the army returned in July. What was missing from that conversation was something like: “You know what, these guys aren’t doing a good job, maybe we should vote them all out of office at the next election.” If the fear was that there wouldn’t be another election to vote them out, well, that’s happened anyways.
The problem with you Egyptians is you have the WRONG political philosophy. You’re welfare statist Muslims or Christians; or Western-style right-wing conservatives or left-wing progressives.
But you REJECT libertarianism. You REJECT freedom and individual rights. You know NOTHING of capitalism and laissez-faire in politics, economics, and sociology.
Sickeningly, Americans are no better! 😦
I admire your passion, sir. You clearly love your country. I met some Egyptian immigrants recently here in St. Louis. I’m not one to stereotype, but you all seem pretty awesome to me.
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I really hope it doesn’t take another century for your ‘liberation moment’ to present itself again. What do you make of the imprisonment of journalists and those perceived to support the Brotherhood? I have a petition that has disappointingly few signatories: https://www.causes.com/campaigns/72867-see-the-egyptian-regime-release-al-jazeera-journalists. If you believe, like I do, that the regime is being unjust, please add your signature.
I watched the documentary Square on Netflix and had nightmares. It is so sad to see everything you described and worse.
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I have several Egyptian friends who seem to fall into that category of people who think a military dictatorship is good because the Egyptian people can’t handle democracy. It is one of the saddest things I have heard. I hope this will be a lesson to people that change can only come through sustained effort and that there may be ups and downs but it is not over. I hope people don’t give up. I hope people see through the lies not only of the MB but of the military. Keep up the movement!
I am greatly enthused by the insight You have shown in the writing of this article. But Egypt has not lost it’s moment, instead it has learned a valuable lesson. That lesson is that education brings about the ability to be aware of the reality of any given situation. you stated in your article that the reality of the Egyptian people is that you are very easily deceived. That all it takes is for your opponent to treat you as if he believes you’re as smart as you think you are and he will gain the upper hand. I’m not advocating violence, aggression, or anything of the sort. But if you really want a change it has to start with knowing your own vulnerabilities as a country, nation, tribe, and most importantly as a human being. You have pointed out your vulnerabilities, if you want your moment create it but remember regardless of nationality or race, religion, gender where all the same. And that one act of kindness is a victory in the face of evil.
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