How many times have you said or heard someone say that the Egyptian people are not fit for democracy? How many times have you said or heard someone say that Egyptians need to be educated and taught how to practice their political rights?
I heard these types of views on numerous occasions, both inside and outside of Egypt. Every time I would find myself compelled to explain to those espousing such ideas that Egypt’s recent history proves that the Egyptian people have always acted responsibly when it came to politics. I would tell those individuals that they were talking about the people as if they were a theoretical notion or construct, while, in fact, they are real, breathing human beings. The Egyptian population is comprised of millions of people who might have different social or cultural backgrounds. However, at certain times, they possess a collective feeling and frame of mind that enables them to take unified stances. More often than not, their stances have turned out to be the correct ones to take.
The people are responsible for all Egyptian revolutions. I still remember January 25, when thousands of demonstrators descended from Imbaba to take their place in Tahrir Square. These poor, simple people were the ones who defended the protesters against assaults by the state security personnel. Without them, the revolution would have failed. The people were the real heroes of the events that took place last Sunday on June 24; a date that is considered a turning point in Egypt’s history, and that of the Arab World in general. For sixteen months, the [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)] carried out a carefully prepared plan to abort the Egyptian revolution through insecurity, sectarian violence, intimidation of both Copts and Muslims, artificially-induced crises, organized campaigns to sully the revolution’s image and successive massacres that martyred many revolutionaries. This is not to mention instances when the honor of women was violated by members of the military and police. This conspiracy aimed to pressure Egyptians into supporting anyone who was capable of restoring security.
This is how Ahmed Shafiq was promoted and later protected from the Political Exclusion Law and 35 documented cases of corruption against him. All indications pointed to a Shafiq victory when the first round election results necessitated a runoff between himself and Morsi. This is because the Brotherhood had lost the sympathy of most of the revolutionaries as a result of its hesitation in backing the movement in favor of protecting its own interests. Many Copts preferred Shafiq due to their fear of the Brotherhood, and remnants of the old regime showered Shafiq with their looted millions, for they considered him their last chance to return to power. Additionally, the state’s apparatuses backed Shafiq with all their might, starting with high ranking officers in the ministry of interior and state security agencies, all the way to ministry officials, government bodies and state media outlets. The state media returned to their old ways of deception and lies. Even some private media outlets diligently endorsed Shafiq, as they are owned by business men who want to protect their sizable interests.
As a result, many (including myself) decided to boycott the elections to object Shafiq’s permitted inclusion when he should have been excluded and prosecuted. Under all of these circumstances, Shafiq’s win seemed inevitable. However, a major surprise ensued: Even though Morsi only received roughly five million votes in the first round, eight million Egyptians decided to vote for him in the runoff. They did not vote for him because they were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, but rather because they realized that the revolution would be doomed if the old regime — represented by Mubarak’s faithful protégé, Shafiq — was allowed to return to power.
The knowledgeable Egyptian people surprised everyone by voting for the Brotherhood’s candidate, thus turning the tables and thwarting the conspiracy to abort the revolution. As a result, SCAF felt threatened and issued a constitutional announcement that limited the president’s authority. This was done just hours before the final electoral results were scheduled to be announced. That announcement was first postponed until Thursday and then until Sunday, prompting the people to once again feel that something was being concocted behind the scenes. They took to the streets by the millions (those affiliated with the Brotherhood as well as others), serving as a pressure point against those who wanted to falsify the voters’ will. History will one day reveal the details of what occurred inside the High Elections Commission prior to the results’ announcement, as the recent stories that came out all confirmed one truth: despite the Egyptian judicial system not being independent from the executive branch, we do have independent judges whose conscience and bravery compel them to speak the truth, regardless of the price. Judge Zakaria Abdel Aziz established, with a group of other Judges, the Society of Judges for Egypt. They endeavored to monitor the elections, and affirmed that the victory went to Morsi by a margin of almost one million votes. Judge Zakaria, to the best of my knowledge, does not espouse the ideals nor the policies of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he is an honest man who can only stand on the side of righteousness. The independent judges’ honest and brave report embarrassed those who wanted to falsify the people’s will. The Egyptian revolution achieved great success by voting for Morsi, who, despite our political disagreements with him, became the first elected civilian president in the modern history of the Republic of Egypt.
This victory of the people’s will not only affect Egypt. It will lead to changes in other Arab countries that are striving to topple their corrupt oppressive rulers, who have been living off the misery of their peoples for decades. Our duty dictates that we congratulate President Morsi; but our duty also commands us to remind him of certain facts:
First: The new president was not elected by the votes of the Brotherhood alone, for that would have never been sufficient. He was elected thanks to the votes of millions of Egyptians who considered him as their only way to prevent the return of Mubarak’s regime. Therefore, President Morsi will be accountable for all the Egyptian people, and, as such, we ask him to immediately and completely cut his organizational ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. He must also, as promised, form a coalition government that includes ministers from all factions of the revolution.
Second: For a year and a half, the SCAF refused to allow the revolution to enjoy its gains and rejected any changes to the structure of Mubarak’s regime. Now that a new president has been elected, change must come quickly, and we expect that President Morsi will help pass the Law of Judicial Authority so that the judiciary branch may become truly independent from the executive branch. We also expect him to repeal the Constitutional Announcement that gives the SCAF more authority than any other state institution. All of those who have been accused of corruption must be tried, beginning with Ahmed Shafiq. The police department must be purged of their corrupt personnel, as well as those who committed violence and murders against demonstrators. The State Security Intelligence Service must be disbanded, and an end must be be put to the security agencies’ oppression of citizens. Military tribunals should be barred from trying civilians, and the twelve thousand civilian prisoners in military jails should be released and retried in civilian courts. Minimum and maximum wages must be set, and poverty and unemployment eradicated. This revolution took place in order to achieve liberty, dignity and social justice. The president will gain or lose credibility based upon his level of adherence to these principles of the revolution.
Third: Mohammed Morsi would have never reached the presidency if 1200 Egyptian youth had not sacrificed their lives during the revolution. An additional thousand people are still missing (most probably killed and buried in secret), and thousands more were wounded. Many of them lost their eyesight due to gun pellet injuries.
After God Almighty, Egypt owes these people a great debt of gratitude, for had it not been for their sacrifices, we would not have reached this moment in time. It is President Morsi’s duty to immediately begin exacting justice against the killers of the martyrs. Without hesitation, he must must look after the families of the fallen and treat the injured with the best available care, both inside and outside Egypt, at the government’s expense. It is unacceptable for the president to leave the care of the revolution’s injured to benefactors; it is unacceptable that he would allow murderers to run free and retain their jobs as if they had never spilled the innocent blood of young people, whose only sin was to demand the restoration of the Egyptian people’s dignity.
Fourth: The president has but two options available to him; either strive to achieve the revolutionary goals of all Egyptians, or just those of the Muslim Brotherhood through secret agreements with the SCAF. I hope that the Brotherhood will not repeat its historical mistakes. Even though it considered its own interests to be synonymous to those of the nation since its inception in 1928, the Brotherhood’s periodic alliances with the regime throughout history greatly hurt the national movement. The latest example of this is their agreement with the SCAF after the revolution which, squandered our chance to write a new constitution and led us to the current crisis. Morsi’s task will not be easy because he still must face Mubarak’s regime. It still controls the state, and I expect that it will also feverishly resist change. In his all-out battle against Mubarak’s regime, the president will need the support of all Egyptian; their support will elude him unless he fights for the good of Egypt and not that of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Fifth: President Morsi always promised to uphold the “civility of the state,” a term that can be interpreted in many ways. In my opinion the civility of the state is built on three tenets:
The first tenet: Citizens’ rights. All Egyptian citizens must be afforded their complete rights regardless of their religion. Every Coptic right that was taken away by Mubarak must be reinstated during the new president’s term, as is required by true Islam.
The second tenet: Protecting personal liberties that people in Egypt have enjoyed for centuries. One manifestation of Egypt’s civility is the ability of each person to decide how to live his or her life within the confines of the law; violating personal freedoms in order to implement some form of moral agenda that transforms citizens into oppressed subjects living under tutelage, as is the case in the Sudan and Saudi Arabia, would signal Egypt’s return to the Middle Ages and constitute a tragedy on the whole country.
The third tenet: Protecting intellectual and creative freedoms. Here we must caution the president against listening to the voices of extremists who stand against culture and the arts. Egypt has always been a bastion of art and thought in the east. We would never accept it if that creativity is subjected to censorship by ultra-conservatives, because that would signify the loss of our artistic heritage and the end of our proud Egyptian creativity. Thought can only be met with thought, and the law must remain the only constraint under which creativity can be expressed. This is the golden rule that ensures the protection of Egypt’s culture.
The fourth tenet: Any attempt to impose Sharia (Islamic) Law now will lead to the disintegration of Egyptian society. Doctor Morsi knows very well that Sharia punishment cannot be imposed until poverty, ignorance and disease are eradicated. The hands of thieves cannot be cut off until we are able to provide them with a dignified life; humanity before religious law.
The Egyptian people who voted for Morsi expect a lot of him, and will vigorously back him as long as he works for Egypt’s interest and strives to achieve the goals of the revolution. Democracy is the solution.
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