MIDDLE EAST

Egyptian liberals, don’t let victory quash your humanity

Congratulations, everyone: we’ve finally got rid of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) forever. What a burden off our shoulders!

Finally, we will have a Muslim Brotherhood-less Egypt and, God willing, there will be no more Salafists either. It’s only a matter of days until the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members are rounded up in jail once again, and Egypt’s normal state is restored. That normal state, where people look good without beards or niqabs; those “good-looking people” we see on TV. Egypt will finally be a free, liberal country. Good riddance, Islamists.

What’s that? Some MB members died at the Republic Guard? And why were they there in the first place? Aren’t you glad this happened to them? Why aren’t you gloating? You must be a Brotherhood supporter! You must be an enemy of the military and the state and probably work as a part-time terrorist!

No. I support what happened on the 30th of June and saw that Mursi was unfit to be president but that doesn’t deny the fact that I believe there needs to be a thorough investigation into the events of the Republic Guard; that I’d like to know how long the Islamists TV channels will be closed; and that I find the private media to be full of discrimination and inciting rhetoric.

No, no: you’re being soft! Keep your human rights to yourself. These people can only be dealt with violently. We have to purge the country of these people.

On a ‘victory high’

The above is a reflection of the state of many who are on a “victory high” - or so they imagine themselves to be. The fascist nature of those people is no different than that of the Islamists who think that their enemies’ disappearance off this planet would be a victory for the religion of God. But those on this ‘victory high’ consider themselves to be different; they justify their fascism for the “good of the country.” These people with their liberal values and reverence for freedom differ very little from Khaled Abdullah [a radical preacher], the “religious man” who was infamous for his favorite quote: “May God relieve us of you and your likes (the liberals).”

I do not trust or believe the Muslim Brotherhood. We have witnessed from experience that they do not keep their word, and lie time and again, as long as it serves their political agenda. They have their means of manipulating religion and justifying their actions so long as it serves their politics.

The MB and the Salafists stood in ovation to Mostafa Bakry in Parliament when he accused ElBaradei of treason. The MB and the Salafists supported the Internal Security Forces when they attacked the protestors and called those who created sit-ins in Tahrir Square thugs, spies, homosexuals and drug addicts. The Islamists were the first to brownnose the military, and deem the resistance to the SCAF as an attack on the state. They were the ones eager to openly distrust the Copts, ignoring their martyrs in the clashes of Maspero, and accusing them of treason and conspiracy with the West. Then, the MB rushed to Washington and the “vulgar, atheist, anti-Islamic” American media. They rejoiced at the rumor of American battleships moving towards Egypt, and hung signs written in English on the stage in Rabaa al-Adawiyah. Al-Beltagy stated that the terrorism in Sinai won’t cease until Mursi is reinstated as President which means that a senior MB leader is admitting that the ousted President is relying on terrorists to maintain his rule.

Yes, the MB has done all of this and more; and for that, Mursi deserved to be protested against by the masses, and his organization deserved the abhorrence and repulsion towards them from the people. The senior Brotherhood leaders need to undergo investigation on charges of inciting violence, as well as their shady international relations. This is the legal and political course that needs to take place.

Aside from this, there is also a humanitarian issue on the table. People’s lives have been lost, regardless of whether these people are from the MB or the SCAF or the civilians affected on a daily basis by the extended sit-in in Rabaa al-Adawiya. There are protestors [from the Muslim Brotherhood] who believe that should they leave the sit-in, they will be instantly killed or incarcerated. These people are never going to disappear. And should they leave Rabaa al-Adawiya, they will return to their homes filled with hatred, frustration and disappointment, which will augment in the South of Egypt and neglected Delta area; and they will return, with more violence and determination in store.

This ‘victory high’ and arrogance that you see in the private media is the same sort of behavior that ended the Brotherhood’s era, and overthrew their popularity. We are now repeating the Brotherhood’s same mistakes. It’s as though we have the memory span of a goldfish.

A cycle of discrimination

I could write volumes on the lack of intelligence on the part of the Brotherhood and their corruption of both religion and politics, but that is another battle that requires different tools. We are losing this battle before it has even begun: those who claim to be freedom fighters and have been denouncing the fascism and discrimination of the Brotherhood are now contributing to the building of sympathy towards them. They are a disgrace to the principles of freedom they claim to stand for. We are returning par excellence to the atmosphere of the nineties when we settled for “the security option” and the media corruption and let the chests rage with a fire of hatred, and allowed extremism to deepen day after day. I do believe that shutting down the Islamist channels [last week] was an important decision during a sensitive period, but I’m now calling for their return. Let them talk as they wish; it has only served to make people hate and be repulsed by them. Do not give them the chance to play the victim. What are you afraid of? Of their discriminatory media rhetoric? Or of their public political stupidity?

My dear anti-Brotherhood liberal, allow me to remind you that just a few weeks ago you were desperately complaining about how grim the future looked, but now that you have been “relieved” of them you have become a carbon copy of their fascism and discrimination. You could respond by saying that they deserve it; that they supported the security forces and used them to overpower you, to cheat and spread rumors and widen sectarian strife. But is that really your argument? Have you made of their lowly ways a better alternative for you than abiding by the principles you have stood by for so long? They lost their moral compass a long time ago- do you want to follow suit?

Don’t you see that by inciting violence towards Palestinians and Syrians you are exactly like them, when they incite violence towards the Shiites, the Baha’is, the Christians, and the other Muslims who opposed the Brotherhood and the Salafiststs? We have replaced the “enemies of Islam” scarecrow with the “enemies of the state” scarecrow. The ideas, approaches and appearances have disappeared, and all that remains are fascism and discrimination that unite us over hatred, rather than reconcile our prejudices.

Take the leaders of the Brotherhood to court – and investigate the events at the Republican Guard. Ensure the autonomy of justice whether the victims are from your camp, or the other’s. Demand a clear framework within which all political parties are to operate, so that no party can ever spread such discriminatory, sectarian rhetoric again. Yes, the leaders of the Brotherhood must be tried just as the leaders of the National Democratic Party (NDP) were tried in the case of provision of enough evidence and within the limits of the law. But remember you will never be able to erase the existence of those thousands off the face of the Earth. You will not be able arrest those thousands and their families and children, and you will not be able to prevent them from winning syndicate elections. All you’re currently doing is repeating their past mistakes by turning a blind eye to those thousands, but you are only burying a living truth that will come back to hit you, or the coming generations in the face.

Kudos to those who have not allowed the victory high to rob them of their humanity; to those few who are currently isolated by everyone else and are not welcome in either camp unless they go with the current flow of hatred and gloating.

Humanity has now become an isolated island among wild waves of discrimination and extremism. On this island live those isolated few, their voices fading in the midst of the roaring cries for vengeance and murder. I’m not optimistic about a population increase on that island anytime soon. But maybe in the future people will migrate to it and try to get to know this thing called humanity that we’ve all been stripped of.

What I fear most is if a time comes when we pass by that island and cry in dismay: “Alas, nobody lives there anymore.”


This article was first published in Al-Shorouk newspaper in Egypt on July 16, 2013 and was translated by Tahrir Squared.
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Bassem Youssef is an Egyptian doctor, satirist, and the host of El Bernameg ("The Program"), a satirical news program broadcast by a private Egyptian television station. The press has compared Youssef with American comedian Jon Stewart, whose satire program The Daily Show inspired Youssef to begin his career. Despite all controversy and legal debates it has sparked, El Bernameg has been a major success. It is constantly topping the regional YouTube charts, making Youssef's YouTube channel one of the most subscribed to in Egypt.

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Last Update: Friday, 19 July 2013 KSA 11:40 - GMT 08:40
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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Egyptian liberals, don’t let victory quash your humanity
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