North Africa, West Asia

Without hope Egypt is stuck between SCAF and the Brotherhood


Old patterns of thinking remain, you see, and everyone wants a quick solution.

Dina El Sharnouby
2 October 2013

Egypt is in a very deep phase of stagnation. Many Egyptians have realized that it might be better to avoid disappointment by being less hopeful for a better Egypt.

Hope for a better Egypt

In 2011, during the 18 days of the uprising, the general vibe was strongly related to personal responsibility and motivation in contributing to a better Egypt. This resulted in less sexual harassment in demonstration crowds, voluntary street-cleaning, and a strong belief in remaining united by avoiding ideological or religious conflicts or intolerance – perhaps the most important thing of all. Veiled or not, old and young, men and women all aimed only at "bread, freedom, and social justice". No one even tried to lead the thousands of demonstrators. The drive was hope, people could see change, smell freedom, and almost grab it to their better selves.

Lost hope

Now we are smarter and understand that change takes much more effort than these glorious days. Even if we suppress differences in ideologies and religious perspectives, now we know that Egypt will not turn into a better place automatically. Egyptians are running out of patience: they want to find peace of mind - finally. Now, the interim government tries to implement some rules but their role and their effectiveness seems generally unclear. How far should this government impose rules and regulations for the future, as opposed to justifying their interim powers in transitional matters such as the constitution, fighting corruption, etc. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is another huge question mark. It is unclear if their role is only to protect Egypt's internal and external security or to assume political power and throw themselves into a political game that entails economic and social strategies?

Most puzzling is the situation of the Muslim Brotherhood. After many years of being an underground movement striving against the odds to assume power, this ruthless and unexpected crackdown has placed them in a state of shock. What will their recovery cost the general population? Can there be any reconciliation between the ruling regime, the population at large, and the Muslim Brotherhood? Will the military rule again and suppress freedom of speech, movement, even aiming at more personal gains regardless of the country’s interests?

All of these fundamental questions are left hanging unanswered. Within this mood of confusion, lack of hope, and tiredness, Egypt’s mainstream logic is caught between the Muslim Brotherhood and SCAF. Old patterns of thinking remain, you see, and everyone wants a quick solution. Not only that but it follows from this deeply instilled logic that we look to one strong party to bring about, as if by a magic wand, all the change that is required. And where does this intuition leave us but suspended indelicately somewhere between the two options of the MB or SCAF….

Do we want SCAF, with their hopelessly compromised history in rule over Egypt or should we restore a Muslim Brotherhood rule that deceived and betrayed the revolution? Almost every argument regarding Egypt's future stumbles back to that question sooner or later, as if there were no possibilities beyond this, no options in triplicate or more – only the two. Maybe there are not that many alternative ways forward. But both these parties have proven themselves incapable of ruling. We need a fundamental change in popular thought on how to go about a revolution. 

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