The snails are marching in their shells one year on

Ancient wisdoms and future challenges come together after the elections in Egypt: the Islamic parties will not have things all their way
Basil Magdy
13 January 2012

Wise people have always drawn stories from street life. Once upon a time, it was said that a man leaving his house one day found a snail in its shell on his doorstep. Picking it up, he chucked it against the front wall. One year later the snail reappeared in the same spot. When the man saw it there, he knelt down and asked the snail, 'What’s your problem?’  

What the man did not understand is that the snail could not die because it was protected by its shell. The moral from this tale is that the day of the little ones (or the weak) will come and it will grow in impact, and the big one will have to bow down and listen to its demands. The true value of this piece of ancient wisdom however, so far remains concealed from our vision, because the Egyptian revolution has not achieved a single one of its demands. On the contrary, the military council has thrown it against the wall after subdividing it, and has succeeded in creating disagreement between all the political parties. 

However, what the military does not understand is that the creators and defenders of the revolution are not the political parties they succeeded in silencing, nor are they the Muslim Brotherhood they thought would help in snuffing out the revolution in exchange for an Islamic Parliament. Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, they are not the ones who started the revolution. What proves that the Islamic groups struck a deal with the military council is that despite them winning the parliamentary elections, given the knowledge that it has no legitimacy - they have not put forward a candidate for the presidential elections.

The purpose of this article is to say that the real revolutionaries of the Egyptian revolution who called for protests on January 25, 2011, are calling for more protest on January 25, 2012. The 25th of this month is not a yearly commemoration of the revolution because the revolution has not died.

The 25th of January is the return of the snail in its original shell, without the parasites that stuck to it along its journey. By parasites I mean the political and Islamic parties.

Why will the snail return? 

It will return because the revolution rose up for the sake of life, freedom, and social justice. None of these has been achieved: the minimum wage has not been raised; cost living is high and bread is too expensive. Citizens have not been given the right to protest and oppose the rules that govern them, a right that has been banned for nearly sixty years now. Obviously there is no transitional justice, so those who killed the revolutionaries have had farcical trials and are treated in the best way possible in prisons equipped with air-conditioning, jacuzzi's, and TV. The bizarre thing is that they are tried in civil courts, which has resulted in the exemption of six officers accused of killing revolutionaries. The normal citizen when caught demonstrating or thieving is tried in a military court and experiences a week-long torture in prison. The whole Egyptian nation now hates the military presence in government. 

However, the problem is that the parliament does not represent the revolution at all. The majority of those elected are Muslim Brotherhood that reject this initiative. As for the revolution, the problem is that the military council has succeeded in transferring legitimacy from Tahrir Square to the parliament, so that the revolutionaries  are no longer the real representatives of this legitimacy. Instead, at the moment, the Muslim Brotherhood are the main representatives of the Egyptian people, silencing everyone and naming and shaming ‘sinners’. The military council is fully aware, however, that the Muslim Brotherhood cannot keep the silence going indefinitely because they are not the real revolutionaries. The council was also planning to shape up and induct the next Egyptian president, in order to reveal him via the media as the only saviour of Egypt (the Jallob survey has shown that the majority of Egyptians do not trust the current candidates). But these efforts are not going ahead as planned: we are now already in January 2012, and the council was planning on handing power over in June. This is disrupting all their calculations. 

We will not forget the main road, the people who are silenced whichever class they belong to, and I'll hold onto the wisdom and so should you. Be certain that the snail is on its way.... 


This article was translated from the Arabic by Mazen Zoabi

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