A letter from Cairo: support Egypt and Egyptians today and tomorrow

Enough listening to backseat driving by political pundits from the US and elsewhere!  Their gloom and doom advice and warnings of demise and peril are not helpful.

Heba F. El-Shazli
9 July 2013

The time is now to end the debate whether what happened in Egypt from June 30 - July 3 was a military coup or not.  What cannot be argued is that the will of the Egyptian people has clearly been spoken and clearly heard. Morsi was given much opportunity to govern democratically and inclusively for all Egyptians, but it appears that was never his true intentions.  Egyptians have soundly rejected Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood’s medieval style of rule.  Likewise, enough of the accusations that "we are drunk with euphoria and now have to deal with the hang-over afterwards or falling for and being blinded by the mass protest euphoria."  Are these detractors suggesting an armed insurrection would have been preferable?  

Let me focus on today and tomorrow, because that is what counts.  First, immediate work on drafting a new constitution by constitutional legal experts with an inclusive all representative council composed of all segments of Egyptians including Islamists.

Second, create the laws and procedures for holding presidential and parliamentary elections within the year.  Governors of the provinces should be elected by the people of that province.  When passions cool, it will be time to organize grassroots electoral campaigns especially in the rural areas. There is a great need for work on civic education, the meaning of citizenship, rights, responsibilities and democratic practices.

 Third, Egypt's new civilian government needs to immediately focus on the economy!  The cost of living has skyrocketed.  The government needs to increase wages for the public sector; set a minimum and maximum wage/salary in order to meet citizen’s basic needs.  Create a tripartite government/ business/ labour (independent unions) council to meet, set priorities and plan of what can be done quickly to get the economy back on a healthy course.

 Fourth, address the issue of security on the streets.  This will lead to the return of tourism and create more opportunities for businesses to thrive again. 

Finally, enough listening to backseat driving by political pundits from the US and elsewhere.  Their gloom and doom advice and warnings of demise and peril are not helpful. Actually, predictions can only get us into trouble and cause regret in the future so enough of the intellectual bullying.

Egyptians are hopeful people.  Demonstrating on June 30 in the face of widespread threats of physical violence and condemnation from within and abroad surely proves this.  We will work hard to reconcile our community and rebuild a nation of respect for human rights and rule of law. 

 A friend who was very active in Central and Eastern Europe’s democracy movements pre and post 1989, sent me the following message: "Congratulations! The events have been confusing for some democrats here who do not understand the idea that elections alone do not define democracy. Governance is what maintains legitimacy. Governance against the will of the people is what delegitimizes an elected regime. We are witnessing a revolution not only against incompetence (which is insufficient reason) but also against the authoritarian actions of an elected president who believed he had the right to do anything he wanted without consent of the people simply because he was elected. It is a remarkable phenomenon that I don't believe we have witnessed in our lifetime. First, an elected leader who has so quickly delegitimized his own rule through authoritarian actions (and incompetence); second, the will of the people demonstrated peacefully twice in two years. But it is a key moment: things could go dramatically wrong or right depending on the leadership shown by the military and political leaders. Instituting democratic processes that can achieve stable political institutions representing the people's will and interests is the only program. Non-violence remains the only strategy to every action, as previously. Peace remains the essential slogan. We are with you."  A perfect explanation of the situation in Egypt!

 A final note regarding the violence that is taking place in some of the streets of Cairo and in other cities around the country. Yesterday (July 5), the Brotherhood's Guide i.e. leader (*I cannot continue to write Muslim before Brotherhood since for me they do not have any connection to Islam) called on their supporters to kill and spill blood for Morsi and their legitimacy. No more blood to be spilled.

Pray that calmer minds will prevail and pray for those who have given their lives for this great nation.... they will never ever be forgotten.  Their sacrifice today will empower us for tomorrow and beyond.


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