Egypt is in a transition. A rough one. A unique one.-
On the surface we have a battle between people fighting for outgrown concepts among opposition forces and a decisive army of people equipped with a highly entrepreneurial frame of mind to safe Egypt from the claws of Islamic fundamentalists.
I wish reporters and activists would care more for objectivity. From friends who I find trustworthy I hear that some stories are made up, facts twisted, insignificant occurrences blown up to major violations or misdemeanors, depending on the perspective. One reads a lot about torture these days.
I don’t know what and whom to believe.
In the headlines one will find reports about security forces who get shot while protecting Churches or while fighting for Egypt’s national safety, which is mostly jeopardized at its boarders through rebellious, unstable neighbor collaborators who infiltrate the country with weapons and jihadists in continuous effort to support what had begun already a couple of months ago, when “In fact, the Brotherhood had taken measures to bring back, arm and organize thousands of “mujahedeen” and release convicted terrorists from prison throughout the previous months, to use them exactly for this purpose should the Brotherhood fail to control the Egyptian state.” (4)
While individuals have the liberty to handle their private information to their own sense of what they wish their social environment to know, coping with the consequences of having disclosed their private affairs to a person neither willing nor capable of helpful and supportive sympathy or both, governments have national consequences to consider.
‘With respect to governmental information, any government may distinguish which materials are public or protected from disclosure to the public based on classification of information as sensitive, classified or secret and being otherwise protected from disclosure due to relevance of the information to protecting the national interest.’(1)
While ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”(1) I wonder if they could foresee that the media, thought of a corrective force for the state agencies in their founding stage, would become a handy tool of mass-manipulation with an enormous roll-back effect on the governments. Other countries’ governments that is.-
We are living in an era, where the loss of credibility of journalists has become normal, as integrity apparently became a value, buried in the history of humanity and left subjected to interpretation.
On the national level media are self-muzzled since every successful editor-in-chief knows how to mute ambitious journalists or to phrase it more politely: how to make them understand what he is expected to write. In Germany we already speak about the ‘Systempresse’ which can be translated to lobby-press. From the US I hear that opinions, not serving main-stream political interests, share the same fate. In both, Germany and then the US some journalists retire to blogs and private internet-news platforms, being forced away from public mass attention. Free Press – A legally flawless arrangement.
Egypt’s opinion discourse appears overwhelmingly led by those familiar with the benefits of today’s ‘free-world’ and informed about the abstracts of the underlying value-system, however generously overlook the price it came and still comes with. Moreover and more perilously: they don’t seem to pay attention to events beyond Egypt’s borders jeopardizing Egypt’s national security.
I follow some enthusiastic and very dedicated journalists who seem to me blinded by the rainbows of dream world realities.
Inter-dependencies in the parallel Universes of the Egyptian nation where people have developed a concept-of-self independently with essentially antagonistic life-styles over decades play well into the hands of those who have ulterior self serving motives.
What drives Egyptian journalists or activists to raise their voice in support of freeing journalists of a television station [Al-Jezeerah (AJ)], a TV net-work everyone in the Middle East can know for its partisan stance on the Muslim brotherhood? Partisan to the extent that some see AJ as a Muslim brotherhood promotion channel!
As a consequence of AJ’s all too obviously fact-detached covering of Egypt’s transitional phase after June 30th, giving a very wrong and manipulative impression on ‘events on the ground’, the Egyptian government withdrew AJ’s license to operate. Instead of respecting the decision and fighting in the courts to reestablish their permit, the Qatar based management of AJ decided to have their staff remained in Egypt where they took residence in several rooms of a well known 5 star hotel. In late December 2013 the journalists got arrested. While the photographer has been released in the meantime, we see solidarity calls, locally and internationally, demanding the release of the detained journalists.
Is the question still allowed: why did the journalists not retire from a news-network that had never for a moment considered to take the chance and try to apologize for biased coverage to ‘maintain their integrity’ [as they claim to have] once there had been no doubt about the net-works propagandistic character?
A lot has changed in the past decades but life is still riding on choices. I can’t think of any media outlet or publication that can afford to oppose the ‘shareholders expectations’. The press/media have become a business like any other. – However: would journalists have had withstood the temptation of ‘soft corruption’ and resigned.. it might not have come to this.
Friday January 24th had been a day when I wished for a cancellation of the governmental promoted festive demonstration to celebrate January 25th, the day that initiated the Egyptian ‘Arab-spring’ revolution: three bomb attacks in random places throughout the day.
January 25th has become a very emotional day. Protagonists from different camps accusing each other for ‘stealing the revolution’, demonstrations, though almost marginalized, and random terror attacks with daily reports on shot police officers hinder the onset of reviving economical activities and contribute to a crawling nationwide depression.
I came across an article where a journalist was trying to “interviewing the ‘Bride of Sisi’, as she called herself, when a crowd gathered around her [me] and another journalist and accused them [us] of working for a ‘terrorist’ news channel” [Al Jezeerah] A curious chant at Tahrir on January 25th had been: “Where’s Al Jazeera? We are the Egyptian people!” Thousands of Egyptians headed to Tahrir that day despite bomb threats announced from the Sinai based Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, a terror organization that can be linked to Al-Qaeda and the Muslim brotherhood that claims responsibility for the bomb-attacks in Sinai and Egypt’s capital. To protect the citizens who support the course of the interim government, the ‘hot-spots’ had been secured in a way able to defend war-like scenarios. 260.000 security forces and tanks had been deployed all over Egypt.
What has it been like ‘on the grounds’ on January 25th? – Hundreds, if not more, reported gathered at the Journalists Syndicate chanting against what they call the ‘military rule’. This lead to clashes in the perimeter of the Journalist Syndicate march and on near by 6 October bridge where an APC came and shot two teargas canisters in front of the Press Syndicate causing protestors to run in different directions. ‘Still marching on October bridge, road is not blocked, chants saying ‘Sisi is like Bashar’’. Birdshots by CSF towards protesters, a clash is in the making, around 400 protesters.. while in the meantime confirmation of ‘massive explosion’ in Suez had been reported with news of targeting Security Forces center. Later anti-government militants fired an Rocket Propelled Grenade at a Central Security Forces (CSF) camp in Suez and then opened heavy fire on the camp.. As a Russian official sees the terrorist acts: ‘Cairo bombings is Brotherhood’s response on new constitution and their continuous loss of followers and supporters.’(3) Meanwhile at least 6 people got arrested at Maadi metro station after “opening fire on police officers.” You heard people say: Egypt now has two variants of totalitarians: pro-Sisi and pro-Morsi. They are now fighting each other over the “right” to oppress the rest.‘All journalists please very careful. Mobs attacking journalists (even Egyptians) accusing them of being part of Al-Jazeera.’
What a day!
Weekends nowadays usually start with the announcement of tight security measurements to protect citizens from pro-Morsi protesters’ violence and end with a report of the number of protesters arrested, wounded or shot, oftentimes weapons secured and/or terror-cells detected.
January 25th 2011 has given Egypt an open political opposition. Now we have several groups who compete with each other and aggressively against the state, whereby it should be noted, that mainly the Muslim brotherhood sympathizers still cling to aggressive and violent opposition, still hoping Morsi can be reinstated.
While more differentiated Western observers can understand that the authorities show no hesitation to lock up remnants of the brotherhood regime during demonstrations, they do feel uneasy when the same happens to members of what they think of as ‘revolutionary stratum’, like socialists, activists and utopists.
‘For the uninitiated, Egypt‘s streets are split between pro-Morsi, pro-Sisi and pro-democracy activists today, each laying claim to the 2011 revolution.’ – ‘Nope – this is misinformation- it’s anti-Morsi 90%, MB 10% and of the 90% anti Morsi 80% pro-Sisi & 20% anti-Sisi. Game over?’(2)
“When the people find they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic“ said Benjamin Franklin. Money support had been the basis of pro Morsi support all along!- These days speculations about Qatar based and/or exiled brotherhood members circulate, rumoring about excessive funding to boost up the shrinking number of demonstrators and demonstrations since the window of opportunity might close shortly.
Getting hooked and adhering to a naïve narrative that is comfortable from a Western point of view at the expense of reality will leave the distant observer firstly with false sense of understanding for a genuine political process and eventually inept to mentally prepare himself for similar scenarios, which are looming all over the world, taking shape already in Ukraine, Thailand, South-America, and Turkey as one can observe.
As for the secular Egyptian opposition: There is a point of time when bringing forward clearly phrased goals is essential to ensure they can be included in the ongoing process. Opposition should be productive and can only be supportive if it comes with addressable aims.- They still owe Egypt a concept.
It is true. The stern state imprisons everyone ‘who asks for it’ and comes in their grip, once they are close to a demonstration, trying to mute the zombie-like call to ‘Let the revolution erupt all over! Let it express our anger towards the fascist regime!’
I remember how I myself recently thought Egypt might be heading toward ‘McCarthyism’. – A young friendly chap who stopped joining the pro-Morsi protests a couple of months ago made this thought vanish. He is sharing a flat with active pro-Morsi student-colleagues, one of whom had been arrested during a Friday protest; being worried about his own safety I found myself surprised to still find him walking free, even after he went to visit his arrested friend in prison. According to the logic I find in news-papers and social media, he ‘should’ have been arrested by now.. – I spoke with him yesterday. He wishes for Morsi to come back. But he as well is able to acknowledge that the majority of the people currently does not support this.-
Naturally this rough system of ‘justice’ turns away many sympathizers who initially gave their full support to the interim-state. – Naturally people walk away, once circumstances get complicated and develop beyond their capacity. – Naturally men who march through life to the rhythms of a drum have no ear for the whisper of a serenade.
‘Are the Egyptians edging at a profound crisis of conscious, questioning their identity?’ – Yes of course! Is that not to be expected given the circumstances??
While the official US still supports the Muslim brotherhood, as their speaker in a recent Q&A underlines with think-tanks still strongly recommending ‘dialogue & discussion with Muslim brotherhood members’ in order to avoid “exacerbate persistent instability” giving ‘inclusivity’ the bitter taste of distortion, Egyptian columnist Wael Nawara delivered a convincing counter thesis, showing that the ‘able’ think tanks didn’t even glance on the map of the Middle East and Egypt’s neighbors. “The idea of granting terrorists, or their allies, control of a country like Egypt, with the rest of the Middle East to follow, in an attempt to pacify them is like giving your arm to a shark hoping it will spare the rest of your body. .. The interim government in Egypt could be accused of many things. But the explosive belt around Egypt of countries collapsing and failing under Islamist militant attacks is not something of its own doing. If this or future governments manage to hold on to Egypt and cause that wave of anarcho-Islamist terrorists to be reversed, it should be applauded and supported. The United States may have seen a glimpse of terrorism horrors in 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan. But adding a failed Egypt to the equation would change everything. Egypt has often been the first piece triggering the start of that domino effect in all directions. After all, in the middle of the Middle East’s map lies Egypt.”(4)
The future however seems to have already started to take shape following the dynamics of the past months. While the official US still rants at Egypt in their habitually imperial manner, Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the opportunity and secured Russia a new and important ally. Meanwhile Minister of Defense & Deputy Prime Minister Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy went to Moscow and started to discuss military and technical cooperation between the two countries on a 2+2 scheme. It looks like that Russia and Egypt are having promising prospects for cooperation in large-scale projects.
As an Egyptian friend pointed out: ‘The great advantage Russia has over America is that it doesn’t have “think thanks” but functioning brains for its policies.’
‘Our task is not to fix the blame for the past, but to fix the course for the future.’Let the future begin.-
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_the_press 2 +3 Tweets from January 2014, Cairo-based account 4. ‘US working group gives wrong advise to Obama’ – Al-Monitor, Wael Nawara,Feb 4th 2014