“God only knows the pain in our souls”

Profound change is being expected in Egypt. Profound change is happening. Profound disappointment spoils the spirit.

Ever since in Egypt people started to fight for liberating themselves from authoritarian suffocation and social injustice back in January 2011, I was always irritated by what had all been expected to get accomplished in ‘no’ time’ and from ‘others’.Back then, during Morsi reign, and, still to a great extent, now.–

The first phase of the second or third stage of the Egyptian revolution (depends where you start, in 1952 or in 1919) begun with the interim governance of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) in February 2011.

It soon dawned upon Egyptians that democracy is a process and not a ready deal. A bit like a screwed up orthodox Coptic marriage. You can’t just divorce. It’s meant to be a life-time commitment. –

An unprecedented challenge awaited the interim government.

The best ideas had yet no institutional structures to be put into practice. The process of structure building had been continuously overshadowed and disrupted as well by traumas of an increasing crime rate –unheard of before-, since in the days of January 28th and thereafter. Back then, some ‘members of the revolution’ went to free inmates from their prison-cells, in addition prison-breaks were heard of in the news for a couple of days. The numbers accumulated to approximately 21.000 fugitives from justice.. Now ‘old bills got settled’, cars got stolen in horrifying numbers with breathtaking professionalism, burglary became ‘common’..

The Supreme Council with its military personnel was certainly expert in the art of war, but lacked all necessary skills or personnel, to regain already control over the stumbling economy, which had lost its healthy swing from the pre-revolution-era.

Right from the beginning of the revolution, freedom of speech had been used in abundance and seemed to mean: publicly talking about ‘everything in all aspects without the slightest restrain’. A public debate started about religious fascism, since now, as a matter of ‘democratically open-mindedness’, religious parties mushroomed, and started to openly fantasize about their visions for a religiously guided state.

Above all, the SCAF had a heavy heritage to handle.- The initial days of the revolution left martyrs. ‘The people’ wanted justice. Too unbearable did it seem to accept ‘starting a new chapter’, working toward presidential elections, without holding the security forces and other government institutions of the overthrown state accountable for their pre-revolution-time, and for their most current misdemeanors..

The old government was still run by the pre-revolution administrators and employees. The spirit broke for many.- Retaliation became an antagonistic demand; the biggest release of unifying energy while at the same time the biggest obstacle.

Some tried to press for ‘justice’. Demonstrations on Tahrir became a ‘common’ Friday pass-time activity. Universities went on strike, while workers strikes became habitual, private companies were surprised with a significant loss of work-ethics.

The SCAF later had gained an infamous place in Egypt’s revolutionary history through the ‘Maspero-massacer’, which lead to more demonstrations culminating into “Mohamed Mahmoud” clashes where more than forty demonstrators lost their lives and hundreds were injured or left crippled. That added grave anger and seeded more disappointment in the hearts of the protagonists of the revolution.

The violence kept investors very reserved about their aspirations to continue their activities with the aimed at pre-revolutionary plans for expansion, locked in the company drawers, until recently.

Back in spring 2011 the pious segment of society gained grounds and social life started to slightly change already. Some Clubs ‘played it safe’ stipulating new entry regulations: “strictly couples only” and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political branch of the Muslimbrotherhood, were publishing their program, despite their explicit announcement still a couple of month ago to “never partake in politics”.

A lot lead to bitterness against the representatives of the old regime and the members of the security forces and the military. – As is well known, as a result, Mohamed Morsi had been elected in a run-off election and Egypt prepared itself mentally for the beginning of the era of democracy.

Quite a lot of people imagined the ‘out-of-the-race’ leader of the Muslimbrotherhood (MB)/FJP, Khairat Al-Shater, rubbing his hands while his mouth filled itself up with saliva upon Mohamed Morsi’s electoral victory on June 30th 2012.. Recall that Essam El-Erian, the MB spokesman, had already announced in December 2011 ‘We reserve the right to revise all treaties’.-  Others were more relaxed and wondered in light of the mostly uninspiring and dull visions, which had been circulating in all details , whether ‘mediocrity wasn’t a good predictor for success’..

The election was concluded. Normalcy tried to take over. People started joking about ‘Um-Ahmed’, now Egypt’s First Lady. From what I saw on pictures: a conservative, plain women giving no hints of mental sophistication except in an interview, where I recall to have admired her bravery while she was speaking about how she managed to deal with the duties as a ‘single’ mother while her husband was in prison, which had frequently been the case.

One was however wondering, whether “president Morsi had any plans to announce his prime-minister & cabinet before the first 100 days of office will be over” ..

Anyways. After 27 days in office, Morsi presented his prime minister, Hisham Kandil. Dr. Hisham Kandil.- The ‘people of Egypt’ were still expecting miracles to happen. Social justice seemed to have a chance to take center-stage, because ‘the party carried it even in their name’. – Rather sooner than later, Kandil was nicknamed ‘Cotton-Nil’ since he responded to the energy crises emerging in summer that year with bizarre suggestions..

It would be incorrect to state the year, while the Brotherhood was in power, was inefficient.- They accomplished a lot. Mostly they established themselves in the governmental apparatus, their best people had been placed and/or promoted into key-positions and they, most probably, started spinning a net to cover each segment of governmental administration.

But they did, what they did, not good enough. Not for themselves, since they missed the art of imposing their will on a stubborn people. Not for Egypt, since they missed the point that they were expected to include a national dimension into their political agenda.

I.e. already in August, Coptic families were expelled in the Nile City of Dashour, Dostor newpaper got confiscated for ‘insulting the president and igniting religious strife’ .. – According to the Ministry of Interior, within the first 48 days of Morsi rule, about 1400 strikes, sit-ins and protests had been recorded.

In December Morsi pushed through a patched-up constitution, ‘home-made’ and outrageously partisan. The constituent assembly made it to the daily headlines through publishing who left and why. Hardly, if any representative of the Egyptian elite, or Coptic’s were to be found in the committee due to unsolvable arguments and the unwillingness of the ‘entitled’ committee representatives, who made the word ‘compromise’ sound like a concept from outer-space.  It should be clear, that the elites of Egypt are the ones who provide jobs and ideas. And for the Copts: many of whom are members of the elites as well: all of them are the ones who must be seen as original Egyptians, direct descendants from the Pharaohs.

As a consequence of this act of state-monopolizing, big demonstrations and sit-ins started at the presidential palace after there was no doubt left, that Morsi and his ‘brothers’ obviously had an agenda on their own.. Ittahadya became the new center of resistance. The ‘freely elected forces’ of the new government tried to get rid of criticism and protesters, killing them, torturing them and calling them names, condemning them publicly as ‘thugs’ and ‘thieves’ and ‘infidels’ and ‘drunkards’. The Press was intimidated, religious liberty condemned, human rights subjected to gradually been downgraded to ‘impertinent demands’.

While ‘Cairo’ was burning, Morsi went to Germany for money. Angela Merkel was irritated about the visit. She brushed him off with stating that ‘before any money support could be granted, the Federal Republic of Germany would want to see – firstly: respect for human rights, secondly: freedom of religion and thirdly: freedom of press.’ That had been accompanied by a juicy remark from the News-desk: “In Egypt Morsi gives the Pharaoh and here he playing the Sphinx.”

Things didn’t go well on the economic level. One might recall the debates that alcohol should be banned and tourists shouldn’t wear bikinis on the beaches of Egypt. The penalty came right away: International Tourism Fair in Madrid leaves Egypt empty “We have not signed a single contract for the summer season.” And that had been only one example. To cut it short: a sharp minded witness to the burlesque theater brought it to the point: ‘The Muslimbrothers seem to invent a new economic theory, the “Rabinna Yustor”* school of economics’ [*So Help Me God (to be said like this in a state of despair, expecting the worse to happen)]

*     *     *

June 30th had set an end to that kind of democratic experiment. July 3rd started a new chapter, hopefully started a new chapter.-

‘The call is to all the people when the main demand is for a democratic rule. The call goes to the army, when the main demand is prioritizing on safety.’ This sums up the dilemma, Egypt finds itself caught in right now.

Three years of ‘transition’ without the nation having had neither the time nor the chance to sit back and take a re-creative break, to sit, mind gaming about  feasible objectives and schedule manageable contributions in their capacity as citizens.

Egyptians seem to be suffering under a mental jet-lag. Too much, too fast, not arrived yet..

As soon as the future looks ‘bright’, violent opposition emerges again, making the long awaited, smooth transition to a participatory and fair political system seem impossible.

Consider this: today, Friday November 22nd, pro-Morsi crowds gathered in the proximity of the dispersed sit-ins, in Nasr city near the Rabaa mosque, to mark their loyalty to the danced-out disposed ex-president who is probably sitting in his prison cell hoping to get freed from his Hamas-friends, like in January 2011, wishing to escape the trial that will be bringing to public attention the sediment of political aspirations in the hands and minds of individuals, who flocked together in a clan, in delusional overestimation of their abilities, clueless about the true wisdom of a generous intellect, ignorant about the core quality of the benevolence of the genuine mind of human nature, perverted even in their distorted profession of faith.. This is why so many people want General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to become the next president of Egypt. A pious, warmhearted, intellectually sharp patriot, who happens to be a statesman. –

For now the Muslimbrothers still succeed – against cash one would speculate, to bring demonstrators in the streets. They smash car-windows and frighten passersby to death, throw Molotov cocktails into a tram so the tram is set ablaze, crashes with cars and leave nine people injured, while in the same time they distribute flyers to passersby, elaborating on their peaceful way and their right to protest the ‘military-coup’. Yesterday they smeared “Marty’s University” on the entrance where ‘Al-Azhar’ was written. Setting fire on campus, throwing rocks and destroying what came in their way.- It took a while, until the University had been granted the right, to have police on campus, when needed. – What else can you do?

As we know from the Mohamed Mahmoud commemorate demonstrations on November 19th, Morsi-support youth was found, probably speculating on the mental connection with demonstrators like the humble hero, Ahmed Harara, the man who lost two eyes through gun shots by the police, one in 2011, one in 2012, now fighting for the revolution through tirelessly lobbying for the demands of January 25th, seeing no point in violence.- The pro-Morsi-youth provoked the security forces with Molotov cocktails since the order that day for police posted at the periphery of the protests seemed to have been ‘self-restrain’. Only when the police-officers had been thrown at with stones and Molotov-cocktails later that day, did the police respond with tear-gas and bird-shots to defend themselves and protect public property, here: the Egyptian museum, from assault.

What worth is a political claim which is brought forward through ignorant youth with base and clumsy and perpetual pointless violence on one side, and heinous acts of cold-blooded murders through trained accomplices on the other side? I find it hard to believe, that Lady Ashton still insists on inclusiveness?! – What’s on her mind? Was she on a romantic date with Khairat El-Shater and now the MB can blackmail her? Absurd, right? Well, as absurd as the call for ‘inclusiveness’ at this point. ‘The Muslim Brotherhood has committed grave mistakes during deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s one-year rule’, said the Grandson of Brotherhood’s founder Hassan al-Banna. ‘The state must never become hostage of terrorists’ decided then-chancellor Helmut Schmidt in Germany, when the RAF ( Red Army Fraction, a leftist terrorist group) in the ‘70-ies threatened to kill the president of the syndicate of employers whom they held kidnapped and murdered him in cold blood, once the state did not comply with their demands. Schmidt bore the consequences. – Egypt, the way I see it, is now in a worse position then Germany ever was..

*     *     *

Egypt’s ‘youth’ constitutes roughly 40% of the population males & females between the age of 15 to 30. If you look closely: the demonstrations Egypt is suffering under now are to 90% been acted out by students, vastly MB-sympathizers, mostly from Al-Azhar, the religious authority of Islam before the MB almost successfully tried to deprive it of this position, which it held for centuries. Some of these ‘innocent’ young men and women are ready to commit violence and hence do threaten the much needed recovery process of the state. Without stability, no progress on democracy or ventures in economy can be achieved. CAPMAS announced that the annual inflation rate increased by 11.5 percent in October, while investments are plagued with low-qualified workers with the alarming number of recently closed factories, at which the state offers ‘emergency funds to save what must not be an additional national tragedy, to affected 613 factories, who halted operations. The number of millionaires in Egypt fell by around 3,000 during Morsi’s one-year rule, according to Credit Suisse Research Institute’s (CSR) Global Wealth Report, 2013. Brain-drain is becoming another and very important issue..

“Oppression is the same if not more so, killing is not according to identity, it has become random, the Ministry of Interior did not change and the systems remains unchanged too.” This sentence expresses an opposition-sentiment from yet another spectrum.

How, I keep wondering, is the state supposed to defend itself and move forward, when police officers are being shot in front of their homes or at work in an unpredictable manner, when soldiers are being killed, on daily basis? Is anyone of those hard-core regime-opposing individuals feeling uncomfortable while reading on the morning twitter-feed about killed police-officers or soldiers? – Are those ‘No-To-Police&Army’ sentiments not much better placed in a productive opposition where unified efforts can compete to make acts of security forces arbitrary impossible?

If Egypt wants to escape the traumas of transition and the fallacy of believing an orderly ‘clean-up-the old-regime-first’ approach before they allow a state to emerge and shape in the most desirable way:  it has to make a choice. Simultaneously it has to cut short on acts undermining the state by allowing the security forces to do what is necessary to defend the state against those who aim at its downfall through igniting chaos and attacking its members and citizens with deadly assaults.- At the same time they have to work on self-preservation. Until now the Gulf-allies, Russia, the US, EU and the rest of the international community are still able and willing to keep and seek cooperation. This fortunate circumstances have lead to a favorable rating of Egypt’s economical credibility.- A great political success which is to be attributed to the interim government. It would now be high time to admit that democracy needs more than saying ‘No’ or, what is equally unproductive: apathy and passivity.. It does require a lot of ‘Yes’ followed by ideas and deeds. Egypt must become a national work-shop where every member brings in his/her ability. That will lead to arguments, confrontation and experience which will have a good chance to grow into a democratic understanding. Initiatives on all levels of society, private and governmentally assisted, are, what can trigger awareness and will translate into pushing the democratic process so many people have already died for, into the right direction.

Egypt’s military backed civil interim government probably sought to draw a line under the past, marking a revolution-restart with the – already infamous – provisional memorial on Tahrir. That attempt earned them scornful laughter, cynic remarks or irritation.

It was an untimely gesture for my taste. Yet what irritated me was: that hardly anyone pointed out the fact of its provisional character, hardly anyone found that worth mentioning. – But then again: it triggered a debate. Soon, God willing, we will see the first drafts from the artists, who participate in the competition, introducing their ideas for a worthy and symbolic memorial, which then will be discussed.

“We do not fear, because we know if we fall while defending our country we will be martyrs; we will stand like martyrs in front of God, we are ‘ready to die’ for Egypt” said General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on occasion of the funeral of the conscripts who had been heinously killed one their way home to a few days of well deserved holidays, after having risked their lives while being stationed in Sinai, currently the country’s Achilles heel. –

It is becoming clear by now that Egypt needs to show decisiveness in order to move on. Clear as well is, that nobody with a healthy mind will allow the county and its nation to sink into chaos. What is not clear is: does Egypt have an alternative to urging General Sisi into presidency? Or, to pick up a recent suggestion: is Egypt already lacking the alternative for an immediate transition into a purely civil government and forced to get familiar with the concept of a ‘war-government’?

‘Be the change you want to see’! Let confusion not dominate common sense.

2 thoughts on ““God only knows the pain in our souls”

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