The article below is a translation from the newspaper al-Masry al-Youm, of June 5th, 2011. Writer Alaa al-Aswani (photo) in it paints a dark picture of what the revolution in Egypt so far achieved and - more importantly - did not achieve. In doing so he makes a strong case for the need of the new, big demonstration which will be held on Friday 8 July at Tahrir in Cairo (and also demonstrations in other cities) in order to push a process that according to him is only halfway, on to the next stage.
(Translated by dr Noha Radwan, University of California Davis).
The American Comedian, George Carlin (1938-2007) was known for his deeply sarcastic remarks and in one of his shows, he was asked what he would do if he were on a flight that was about to crash. Carlin’s response was that he would, of course, save himself, that he would shove women and kick children and disabled passengers out of his way with all his strength until he had reached the emergency exit. Afterwards, he would try to save the other passengers. This sarcastic remark demonstrates how some people would do anything to save themselves and their own interests. Every time I see the new Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad al-Urabi, I remember Carlin’s words. Al-Urabi was one of the people closest to Mubarak and his family in whose honor he has articulated quite a collection of panegyrics and elegies. According to Al-Wafd newspaper, al-Urabi, while he was Egypt’s ambassador to Germany, stated: “I believe that Mubarak is an unprecedented leader, and that Egyptian history will not witness another leader like him.” He also said: “God favors Egypt because He gave her an extraordinary talent named Gamal Mubarak.” Al-Urabi is now minister of foreign affairs in the government of the revolution that has ousted his “unprecedented leader” and thrown the “extraordinary talent” Gamal Mubarak in prison. And al-Urabi is not an exceptional case within the current Egyptian government. Many of the current ministers were big supporters of Mubarak and they now make decisions in the new revolutionary government. Minister of Finance, Samir Radwan, was a member of the National Democratic Party’s political committee and was close to Gamal Mubarak, who had recommended him to former minister Youssef Boutros Ghali who appointed him as his consultant in 2005. Later Mubarak appointed him to the Parliament. Minister Radwan was a participant in setting the economic policies of Mubarak’s regime. Now he wants to convince the public that he is adopting the ideology of the revolution and I can’t help but think of George’s Carlin’s means of escaping the crashing plane.
The problem here is not only these ministers’ amazing ability to defend one thing and its opposite with equal enthusiasm in order to save their positions. The problem is that the revolution has ousted President Mubarak but not his regime. The Generals of the Egyptian Police, who helped Habib al-Adly humiliate the Egyptians and torture them, still hold their positions. The media officials, who misinformed the public and fraudulently praised the dictator and justified his crimes, still hold theirs. The judges, who oversaw the rigging of the elections, are still active. Even the State Security officers who committed atrocious crimes have not lost their jobs, and some were even appointed governors. What can we expect from all those officials? Certainly, they will fail to understand the logic of the revolution, and probably they will conspire against it. The conspiracy against the Egyptian revolution has become quite obvious and its main characteristics can be summed as follows:
First: Slow trials of some for the icons of the former regime in order to gradually absorb the anger of the Egyptians until they forget about the matter as they return to their daily concerns and affairs. Why has Mubarak not been tried yet? And what is the secret behind all the conflicting reports about his health. Why isn't he treated like a normal prisoner? Where are Gamal and Alaa Mubarak and why do we not see photographs of them in prison? Why are formerly high officials receiving exceptional treatment in Tura prison? Who allowed Hussein Salem to escape (to Spain, TP). Why were Zakariyya Azmy, Fathy Sorour, and Safwat el-Sherif 1) only arrested two months after the revolution, a period long enough for them to sort their affairs, hide what might incriminate them and smuggle their embezzlements abroad? Why have those who were injured or killed in the revolution not received any attention from the government? How was the martyr Muhamad Qutb left in Nasser Hospital till his injuries worsened and insects ran in and out of his mouth while Sharm el-Shaykh hospital was evacuated for Suzanne Mubarak to receive dental care? Why does the Egyptian government put its best foot forward only to provide German specialists to check on Mubarak’s precious health? The questions are many and there is a single answer, known and upsetting.
Second: Causing a continuous state of insecurity and instability along with a failure of the police to carry out their duties, in order to terrorize the Egyptians and stall tourism and foreign investment so that the revolution appears to have ushered in our doom. This is going on along with a representation of the revolutionaries as thugs and the police officers as heroes who were defending their police stations. Additionally, the trails of the police officials until the defendants (who are still in the service) can pressure the victims to change their testimonies and allow them to remain unpunished.
Third: Polarizing the forces of the revolution and fueling the conflict between the Liberals and the Islamists, along with representing the country as if it has fallen into the hands of the fundamentalists. Don’t we still remember how al-Ahram newspaper carried on its front page a picture of a man with his ear chopped off with a headline about the Salafis having chopped off a Copt’s ear? Maybe we also still remember how the media celebrated Abud al-Zumur as if he were a national hero? Perhaps this would help us understand why churches and Copts are attacked almost on weekly basis without any police intervention. In effect it continuously discredits the Islamists and ruins the image of the Egyptian Revolution locally and abroad.
Fourth: Exaggerating the severity of the economic crises and continuously claiming that Egypt is close to bankruptcy because of the revolution. The misinformation in this account is doublefold . It is Mubarak who has left the country in despicable economic conditions.: 40% of Egyptians live below the poverty line, the rate of unemployment is unprecedented and one of every three residents of Cairo lives in vernacular housing slums. Mubarak’s regime, and not the revolution, is responsible for the misery of Egyptians. The revolution has not yet governed. If there are post-revolution crises, then they are the responsibility of the military council that has taken over the president’s responsibilities and the government that it has formed.
Rioting in front of the ministry of the interior, 29 June 2011.
What happened in Tahrir Square last week 2) has multiple implications. Thugs were given a free rein to create chaos and attack the ministry of interior in order to give the police a pretext for attacking the protesters. At that point it became clear how much rancor high-ranking police officers feel towards the revolution. For what else compels a police officer to carry a megaphone and ride around in his van swearing at the protestors and their mothers? What prompts the Intelligence officer in Abdin Police Station to insult the mother of Ahmad Zayn al-Abedin, who lost his life in the revolution, kick her in the stomach, assault her son and arrest him so that he faces a military tribunal. These shameful attacks by the police against the families of the revolution’s martyrs were accompanied by an old style defaming campaign by a number of journalists and media officials who still take their orders from the State Security, whose name has now changed into National Security. As for Mr. Mansour Eisawi, I believe that the conspirators against the revolution could not hope for a better minister of interior, for he believes that he should defend his officers no matter what they do. What happened in Tahrir last week was the dress rehearsal for a major conspiracy to completely abort the revolution.
The question here is: Has the Egyptian revolution gone wrong?
Yes, the revolution went wrong on February 11, when Mubarak was forced to step down and the Egyptians celebrated in their millions then went home. The revolution should have continued in the square and selected spokespeople to negotiate with the military council until its demands were met in full. Instead of announcing the annulment of Mubarak’s constitution and calling for drafting a new constitution, the military council preferred to accept Mubarak’s proposition to amend a few articles in the old constitution. A referendum was held for people to vote on a few amendments and after the results of the referendum were announced, the military council completely bypassed it and announced the activation of a transitional constitution of 63 articles. This useless referendum only divided the revolutionaries into two groups, Liberals and Islamists. The two groups entered into a long debate with liberals calling for a new constitution before the next elections and Islamists calling for the elections first. The two groups dedicated themselves to attacking each other. The two groups forgot that the regime that the revolution aimed to topple has not yet fallen. What good would new elections be if they are overseen by a ministry of interior staffed by Habib al-Adly’s assistants and disciples and by the same judges who participated in rigging previous elections and still hold their positions? And what good would a constitution be if it were written by legal experts who have repeatedly put their expertise in the service of a corrupt dictatorship?
The Egyptian revolution is now going through a critical moment, a real fork in the road. It can either win and accomplish its goals or (heavens forbid), it can also lose, leaving the old regime to return in a slightly different form. What is to done now? We have to remember Husni Mubarak and the enormous support he enjoyed, from Israel and from most Western states and Arab states. No one could imagine that he could be ousted. Yet the Egyptian people did it. Only those who made the revolution can protect it. This is why the demonstrations that have been called for next Friday are important. They have to correct what went wrong with the revolution. We should forget about our ideological differences and return to how we were during the revolution: Copts, Salafis, and Muslim Brothers together, and veiled next to non-veiled women. We will call for neither the elections nor the constitution. We will ask for purging the current government of the remnants of the old regime. We will demand fair and speedy trials for the killers of our martyrs. We will demand that civilians not have to face military tribunals under any circumstances. We will go to the square on Friday ready to pay the price of freedom. We will be like we were during the revolution, ready to die at any moment. Our lives cannot be more precious than the lives of those who were killed, who gave their lives for a better future for Egypt and a life with dignity for the Egyptians.
1) Hussein Salem is a businessman with ties to the family Mubarak who has been accused of embezzlement and has been arrested in Spain; Zakariyya Azmi was chief of Mubarak's office; Safwar el-Sherif was the chairman of Mubarak's National Democratic Party, and Fathi Sorour was the chaiman of the Maglis as Shaab (the lower house of parliament).
2) The events on Tahrir grew out of clashes between the families of the martyrs of the revolution and the security forces. The families had been camping for several days at the radio- and television building at Maspero demanding justice and compensation. On the evening of Tuesday 28 June there was a ceremony at the Balloon Theatre in Aguza in the honor of the martyrs, but the families appeared not to be welcome.That resulted in clashes which lasted for two days on Tahrir and in front of the ministry of the interrior. A semi official commission of inquiry established on Tuesday 5 July that the clashes most probably had been triggered by thugs and contra revolutionary forces.