Egyptian Aak (Week 11): When Fecklessness is An Attitude.

Bakers(Bakers protest in front of Ministry of Supply via  Elijah Zarwan)

Main Headlines








A Few Thoughts 

“Egypt is hanging by a thread.”  I doubt anyone inside or outside of Egypt would argue with Steven Cook’s views. However, if he asks Egyptians and other pundits for reasons why the Egyptian revolution has reached such an abysmal state of affairs, a wide divergence of opinions would quickly surface. Potential answers would include: the Islamist leadership, the opposition, the army, the list is going on and on. Again, Steven Cook was right in his piece last week when he described the opposition as feckless. Indeed, they are, but they are not the only ones. Fecklessness has become a common attitude in Egypt, and virtually all of the players in Egypt’s political arena are acting this way. In fact, this fecklessness is largely behind the sprout of violence that risks dragging the country right into the deep end.

The so-called citizen’s arrest power is just one example of this “creative fecklessness.” The decision of the public prosecutor to grant citizens the right to arrest vandals was warmly welcomed by nearly all Islamist political groups and parties, who passionately defended it as “an effective” alternative to secure Egypt in the absence of a “reliable” police force. Their argument appealed to some Egyptians, who already distrust the police and the entire security apparatus, while many others have raised the alarm bell, citing the dangers of such a move. For example, al-Gamaa al-Islamiya now deploys its members in the city of Assiut, south of Egypt to “maintain security.”  Ironically, that is the same group that killed 21 policemen in the same city in the early eighties.

The whole debate has reminded me of Naguib Mahfouz’s novel, “Children of Gebelawi,” with its stories of “the Fetwa, or the good thug,” who restores law and order in his neighborhood. Some of the Islamists who detest Mahfouz, have even described him as an infidel for writing the above novel, but yet have decided to resurrect a few chapters from his book and implement it on the Egyptian streets. Their passion for defending the idea highlights a lack of understanding of the simple basic roles of governance. If any man with good muscles and “good intention” can play the “good cop role,” then all countries should close their police academies and save money on training a police force. The pitfall of this dangerous approach is what happened sunday in Mahalla is evident in this gruesome video.

Meanwhile, there is still no public inquiry into the death of Egyptian soldiers in Sinai, despite a leaked report blaming Hamas. Hamas has denied the accusations, and the Egyptian government seems unwilling to challenge their claim. Interestingly, Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal met the Supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (and not any formal Egyptian official) on Saturday, and  vow non-interference in Egyptian affairs.

The Islamists’over-simplistic views extend to every other tenets of the modern state. Morsi’s edict (regardless of his intention) reflects a disturbing ignorance on what legitimacy means and what a democratically elected president should or should not do. Even in matters related to the economy, the recent witch-hunt against the most successful businessmen in the country, the Sawaris family, has raised many question about the fairness of Egypt‘s current leadership. As Naguib Sawaris tweeted, “Why did the revenue office not investigate other companies in the same situation?” It seems that the Islamists have forgotten that Egypt, as a country, is impossible to run with the same simple, crude roles that govern a grocery shop or a vegetable stall on the corner of a Cairo street where raw prejudice, and dirty fights are the prevailing theme.

The recent Muslim Brotherhood’s statement against the draft proposal of the UN Declaration on Women’s Rights is another stark example. Beside the fact that the Brotherhood thinks it is ok for a husband to rape his wife, they believe that if a man beats his wife, she shares 30-40% of the fault. Interestingly, and as Mahmoud Salim wrote, “their objections are more inferred from the spirit of the draft document than from the document itself, and object to topics that weren’t even mentioned in the draft.” The Brotherhood’s seemingly pre-emptive attack against the draft declaration, aimed at rallying other Muslim states has backfired, exposed their real disturbing, misogynistic ideas as well as their hypocritical approach. At the end, Muslim States, including Egypt agreed to the UN document, and the Brotherhood embarrassing rant has led to nothing, but minor modifications to the original draft. If that is not feckless, then I do not know what fecklessness is.

The same attitude has also spread to youth groups. For example, Issander el Amrani wrote about the Ultras and how they have become “little more than anarchists.” Other groups are equally guilty; violence gradually has become permissible, just as sexual harassment became permissible among some. Slowly, Egyptians are shredding their centuries-old peaceful values to justify despicable behaviors under various excuses.

Underneath a cloud of fecklessness, ordinary Egyptians are struggling to feed their children amid a growing fuel crisis, while watching their dreams evaporate. For them, there is no light at the end of the tunnel and the future appears to be a choice between black, bleak and beyond.

Egyptian political life has always been as arid as its desert. Now, Egypt is now facing one of the biggest sandstorms of its political history. Rather than protecting the country from the impact of such storms, the Islamist leadership is using the dust to fight their perceived enemies.

Indeed, Egypt is hanging by a very brittle thread; the question is, who will step forth and save it? Or cut it?

Good Read

Also, here are Jayson Casper prayers for Egypt.

Finally, I leave you with this video of a Muslim Brotherhood supporter slap a female demonstrator near the Brotherhood headquarter in Moqattam. I shall leave it to you to judge:


About nervana111

Doctor, blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues. The only practising doctor who write in Middle Eastern politics in UK.
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