Egypt belongs to all its citizens, not to one group

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

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When a hurricane hits, it doesn’t spare anyone. Again I warn that the present leaders of Egypt are pushing it quickly to the edge of a cliff, and they are wrong if they think that this action will put them in a better position and allow them to have full control.

They are wrong if they think that the policy of indifference and neglect of the others’ concerns fits with their own interests, regardless of the cost. They are wrong if they expect to succeed this way as they will be the first to fall off the cliff they’re leading the country to, and as I always say, the volcano will not ask for permission to erupt.

Deadly mistakes from the former regime

Based on this brinkmanship policy, we can assess the method used by the government during the sectarian events, namely the Cairo cathedral attack. The events are very representative of how things will develop when sectarian strife hits. First and foremost one needs to admit that this is one of many dangers facing Egypt for many years now, and maybe the deadly mistake of the former regime was that it has always dealt with this issue as a security problem. It put the solution in the hands of the security forces and never took any step towards finding a real and practical solution to ease sectarian tension in spite of the genuine goodwill that was interpreted by constitutional reforms, considering citizenship as the foundation of the nation.

The second mistake of the former regime was the continuous attempts to win the applause of religious movements, which cost us and the regime as well, a hefty price. As a result of these mistakes, the concept of citizenship wasn’t elaborated through a series of laws and regulations in order to create a real civilian state, with the citizen as a foundation, and citizenship as the only reference that dictates the relationship between the citizen and the government, as well as the relations between the citizens themselves.

The former regime collapsed, bringing down with it all the steps that were taken in favor of enhancing the concept of citizenship, and we are facing since them a new regime that has built a high wall between it and all citizens; it doesn’t recognize anyone except those from “its family and tribe.”

The police that succeeded in defending the different centers of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Headquarters in Cairo, is the same apparatus that failed in protecting the premises of the al-Azhar chief’s residence and the cathedral in tough times

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

What we witnessed in the last few days is an example of this childish government system, which will only lead to destruction and collapse; starting with the tone of speech used by the security officer responsible for the Egypt town of al-Khoussous – which witnessed deadly sectarian clashes last week. The officer said that the beginning of the unrest there cannot be described as a sectarian strife, and this denial seems to be the key message used by all officials of the present regime. This doesn’t allow them to grasp the real dimension of the problem and its complications, and find a suitable solution. You may add to this the stunning approach of the police while dealing with the explosive situation in the cathedral during the funerals, which doesn’t seem to be quite innocent.

The police that succeeded in defending the different centers of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Headquarters in Cairo, is the same apparatus that failed in protecting the premises of the al-Azhar chief’s residence, and it is the same apparatus that failed to protect the cathedral in tough times, but on the contrary, it decided to contribute in further escalating the situation through using newly-imported tear gas! These situations are really worth analyzing to give a convincing answer to the Egyptians, who this country belongs to.

No sense

In a stance that lacks basic of political sense, the assistant of the president for foreign affairs made a statement in English, with the purpose of addressing international observers who are noticing the huge mistakes committed by its Egypt’s leaders. The official accused the angry Christian mourners of attacking pedestrians and cars on Ramses street, which forced some of the people who were near the cathedral to throw stones and shoot which further escalated the situation and initiated fire exchange.

He added that the surveillance cameras caught the images of persons armed with weapons and Molotov cocktails at the top of the cathedral and outside, and inside, which forced the police to interfere to disperse crowds by using tear gas. And as usual, like in all previous events, nobody puts any blame on the “pure and innocent” member of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies; the criminals are all those who are not part of this group and its allies, regardless of their religion, as it doesn’t matter if they are Muslim or Copts.

I think that what happened is more proof that the Egyptian state is speeding away from enhancing the principle of citizenship. Real citizenship will not be realized through the sweet words said by the ruling group’s officials and their followers, who claim that all citizens are equal towards the law and similar empty statements.

Real citizenship can only be achieved when the country is for all of its citizens, and when the government is for all, not for a group that holds the citizenship seal, granting it to those it favors, and denying it to those who oppose them, be it in religion or in politics. What’s best is a state for its citizens, not a state for a group, even if they consider themselves as the only believers.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of "Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak," a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

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