Let’s take another look

Posted: August 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


By Abdellatif Elmenawy

I don’t believe that the lesson is over yet.

The Islamic group has run the battle with those who still had the courage of confrontation and demonstration in the streets on the 24th of this month. This shows that the group has taken advantage from what it considered as the weakness point of the former regime. In fact, the group decided to abort the call for demonstration at an early stage and decided instead to attack and overthrow the former leaders of the military council who accepted their fate without any sign of resistance and with a suspicious surrender. In this context, the group has not only resolved the conflict over power but it has also achieved a preemptive strike against the project of demonstration because people felt that they have lost their supporter and defender as well as the guardian of the civil state.

Moreover, a true battle has started but it is a unilateral battle that could be viewed rather as an attack against media outlets. The attack on media took many shapes like toppling the editors of all national newspapers and magazines and replacing them with editors who are affiliated to the group without any due conditions and without taking into account the opinion of the journalistic community. Moreover the Islamic group has adopted the gulf employment agencies’ style in recruiting migrant employees. Thus, this front of the battle has been secured, they balanced and steered their ship, heading to a new, but expected, destination. As for private media, sacrificing one or two journalists was enough to terrorize and deter private media institutions. That is why the group has issued complaints, accusations, restraining orders and habeas corpus against journalists. They have even threatened or attempted to incarcerate and attack them. And indeed, some journalists were put in jail while channels have been closed and newspapers have been seized. All these practices managed to create an atmosphere of fear among observers. However, weirdly enough, the big boss comes out and declares that he backs the freedom of press and impels one of his followers to deny any link between the group and these practices. They claim that some honorable citizens have voluntarily resorted to these practices to discipline journalists.

It has been proven that “mobilization for intimidation” actually works. As elections draw near, there were calls to mobilize militias in the field and threats of attack that go in line with the fatwas calling for the murder of “those obscene infidels” who dare to disobey the will of God on earth”. Some called for the amputation of their limbs as a punishment for corrupters on earth. However we did not hear any severe and serious condemnation of these fatwas. All we heard from decision makers was a refusal that is more close to an approval.
Consequently, there were voices calling for the organization of demonstrations supporting the freedom of expression and refusing the dominant practices that aim at acquiring power and marginalizing the people, except members and allies of the Islamic group. Protests started in unfavorable, rather dissuasive, conditions. Some might have adopted the same political stance and slogan as the ones expressed by the callers to these protests, but they content with declaring their approval to the demonstrations while insisting that they will not participate in any of them. There were several rumors regarding the reasons that pushed some parties to refrain from participating in the protests. Some say they were under pressure or threat or are even trying to win the new governors’ trust; however the overall result was the suspicious retreat of the powers that seemed to truly believe in the importance of the struggle for the establishment of a civil state.

After demonstrators started flocking in the streets, they realized the presence of new security measures that were inspired from past experiences when the governors of today were the demonstrators of yesterday. They were masters in circling and impeding the protest. Organized militias affiliated to the Islamic group participated in the oppressive measures by resorting to terrorizing and intimidating practices. Under these prohibitive conditions, the protests happened as they happened, despite all the restrictions and some of the protesters were participating for the first time in a demonstration but were driven by their sense of danger to face all these challenges.

I know that Muhammad Abu Hamed, one of the main callers for these protests, is a controversial figure, but I do admire his persistent position despite the severe attack against him. He did not follow the steps of some political figures who decided to keep their historical role of adulation to maintain their position; and if the authority does not guarantee their interests, they would oppose it. Some claim to be liberals and had exerted pressure over decision makers to support the civil state but they soon stopped their support to civil state advocates at the request of “the people in power,” as they say.

As for the media coverage of the protests, it is a long devastating matter. I did not understand why some media insisted on broadcasting shootings of Tahrir square where there were no demonstrations taking place! Other media outlets made sure to deploy a reporter affiliated to the new regime to cover the protests. As for television channels that intended to play the role of a state television, they were stunted and transformed into channels that serve the Islamic group and mock other different Egyptian citizens.

I salute those few people who are putting their lives at stake to defend the civil state for he who derides them is messing with Egypt’s future.

(The writer is a columnist at Egypt-based al-Masry al-Youm, where this article was first published Aug. 27, 2012 and was translated by Alarabiya news)


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