The Egyptian arena is witnessing a great political battle; a fight between intellectuals, media, elites and the masses over authorities, positions, history and future.
The proposed constitution, which is the main cause for this dispute, has seen blood spilt on both sides of the political spectrum. Nobody expected these disagreements to lead to anyone’s death. We are witnessing this uproar in the country, because the end result will be the main pillar of Egypt’s future. It will establish political camps, trends and issues, and may even generate a serious amount of tension. We are now in the third quarter of the Egyptian revolution, after surviving the first two after the overthrow of Mubarak’s regime and the separation from the military; the debate now is over the distribution of power and the authorities’ plan for the country.
Whether the majority of Egyptians acknowledged or rejected the constitution, the biggest loser is the ruling party, the Muslim Brotherhood; they have suffered a lot and last weeks’ violence over its interesting development has just distorted their image, especially when the group isolated the Attorney General, declared the dictatorial constitution, and then set the draft constitution within two days. These events have sharply divided the Egyptian people and starts off Mohammed Mursi’s three year presidency on the wrong foot. The Brotherhood has lost the elite and latter’s sympathy which they had managed to accumulate over the forty years they had been marginalized under Mubarak’s rule.
The intellectuals have now resorted to the streets, expressing their growing anger. Magdi Khalil, the director of the Middle East Freedom Forum wrote: “This constitution is designed to suit Islamic movements and lays the foundations for a state of religious dictatorship. It is a foundling constitution and those who have witnessed how the vote on it happened will know that it is about seizure of the authority, not a dialogue on governance. After Vice President Mahmoud Mekki said survival is for the strongest, after the clashes in the Ittihadiya neighborhood and the discrimination between Egyptian who died, some being called martyrs and others not and after the supreme guide and Khairat al-Shater threatened a massacre for Egyptians, their intentions have been revealed. They consist of coercively imposing the opinion of a political faction on the entire Egyptian people”.
This position reflects the state of anger that united all the opposition’s factions despite their differences, knowing that the constitution’s honeymoon has quickly ended between the partners of the revolution. The Brotherhood became an easy target, and Mursi became a despicable personality. The mistakes made by the Brotherhood ever since they were in power did not result from necessity, but rather from their ideology, in which they do not distinguish between religion and society; they want to transfer the concept of blind obedience to the political arena which is instead destined for change and transformation.
The imprudence of Mursi’s team and the dominance of the Brotherhood’s leaders, mainly their supreme guide Mohammed Badie who used vulgar language to criticize his opponents, have spurred the people’s rage, especially when he used the expressions “tails” and agents to describe protesters, even though both disagreement and objection are accepted under the law which brought them to power to begin with.
Egypt is a big country so one team cannot govern alone, or impose its vision on others. That is what brought down Mubarak as the youth joined the rest of the opposition. It will be this that will make Mursi’s life in power extremely difficult over the next three years, not just during this current anguish over the constitution.
The opposition has become a reality that’s now embedded itself in Egyptian life, at a time when the Brotherhood claim they were the sole organized group with 80 years’ experience. But, they have been taken by surprise as the opposition has used their own methods of incitement, propaganda and mobilization against them.
Abdul Rahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. This article was first published on Dec. 14, 2012