Fantasists undermine Egypt’s forward march

The referendum on Egypt’s new constitution passed without any serious incident, despite threats from the Muslim Brotherhood which Egypt has branded ‘terrorist.’

When a bomb exploded outside a courthouse in a Cairo suburb hours before polling stations opened, voters rejecting intimidation responded by turning out in great numbers. Everywhere, people queued in an atmosphere of celebration. Women were caught on video dancing, singing, ululating and handing out single roses to members of the security forces.

The elderly came out, many walking hesitantly with the aid of Zimmer frames or in wheelchairs. Thousands who gathered to cast their votes in Shoubra Al-Khaimah enthusiastically raised their voices to the tune of Dalida’s “Helwa ya Balady” (My Beautiful Homeland).

The fact that 98.1 percent voted ‘yes’ was no surprise because the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other groups within the so-called anti-coup Alliance, such as April 6, chose to boycott the ballot—and are now plotting on social media to launch yet another revolution on Jan. 25, marking the anniversary of the 2011 civil uprising.

They will not succeed. The power rests with the state, strongly backed by the army, the police, the judiciary, the media and the majority of the population, which will not permit its roadmap to be disrupted. But the nation is bracing for bloodshed, a tense situation reflected by a nervous bourse.

Human rights groups have criticized the government for its crackdown while some analysts warn that Egypt is reverting to an authoritarian state. If this is so, then the blame lies with the killers and the burners.

It’s surely the first duty of any government to ensure the safety and security of its citizens; no government can just stand back permitting armed gangs to run riot under a pretext of ‘peaceful protest.’

In truth, it’s impossible to figure out what those disgruntled organizations and individuals actually want to achieve. What are their aims and why are they prepared to destroy their country’s future to achieve them?

They claim they are fighting for democracy which is never carried on the back of bombs or bullets, and they’re set to shred the freedoms of the 21 plus millions who risked their lives to vote on the constitution, which promises religious freedom and increased rights for women, the labor force and the fellaheen. Egyptians who truly love their country from all walks of life want to move ahead without a bunch of bad losers, their leaders conspiring in foreign capitals to thwart the nation’s economic, political and social progress.

We do know that the Muslim Brotherhood is stuck in the past still demanding the reinstatement of Muhammad Mursi and the now defunct 2012 constitution, even when they know full well their aspirations are fantastical in the extreme. They would need the genii of the lamp to return the former status quo. Their experiment is over. They squandered their opportunity and now the MB is detested not only by liberals but also by former sympathizers who fuelled their man’s residence in the palace. Its use of violence to make a point clinched the demise of its popularity; today its following within Egypt is believed to be less than 500,000.

Naddar Bakkar, the leader of the Salafist Nour Party, which has been keenly participating in the transition, explains where the MB went wrong in an article, titled “Brotherhood greed halted Egypt’s progress,” published by Ahram Online.

“Unfortunately, the Brotherhood’s greed and stubbornness was one of the factors that caused this wasted opportunity; they acted like a state within a state,” he says. He further accuses Mursi of doing nothing to prevent terrorist infiltration of the Sinai Peninsula following the attack on 16 Egyptian soldiers in August 2012. “I believe the Brotherhood was trying to benefit from the existing situation (in Sinai) and not fix it, which contradicts with Egypt’s national security,” he says.

Likewise the April 6 protest movement that spearheaded the 2011 revolution has lost its patriotic gloss. Three of its founders have been jailed for defying the protest law and attacking police officers, and taped recordings aired on local television networks reveal that at least one of its leaders was in touch with Sheikh Qaradawi and the group was responsible for storming State Security H.Q. in 2011 where secret documents and files were turned to cinders. April 6 has publicly regretted its participation on June 30 and has recently handed out over two million flyers urging people to join its planned protest next Saturday.

Many Egyptians are disappointed and angry with those fallen heroes. One of its co-founders, Israa Abdel-Fatah, was hounded out of a polling station last week by a furious crowd chanting “traitor.”

Again, what April 6 wants is opaque. It turned against Mubarak; it helped to oust Mursi and today its ire is directed at the interim government. It may have begun life as a breath of fresh air but some way along the road it’s morphed into a destroyer. One Egyptian mother was so upset with the anti-patriotic scheming of her son that she reported him to the police, telling him never to darken her door again.

The refusal by well-intentioned youth activists and academic elites to accept Egypt’s current reality is another destabilizing factor. Sorry, but democracy does not instantly manifest when you say, ‘poof’ with a sweep of the arm.

It’s a process, a long process that took the US and many European nations centuries to refine. It needs education so that people can understand the issues, established institutions and the population’s acceptance of the ballot box even when the outcome may not be to their liking.

Dreamers who perch themselves on a house of cards labeled ‘principles’ may be honorable but they’re misguided. Rather than rail at the system, they should establish political parties and use the system to bring about the changes they seek.

Egyptians need to come together and roll up their sleeves under a sign that reads “Bloodsuckers out to steal our country’s life’s blood not wanted here.”

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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