The Joker’s Country

Many people, after my last post, were wondering if I am depressed. I wasn’t. I felt sad & helpless, but the reason behind my feelings of sadness and helplessness was something I could not pinpoint, until I figured it out two nights ago while watching The Batman Begins Sequel “The Dark Knight”. If this sounds strange to you, bear with me, because as always, there is a reason to my madness.

In the Dark Knight, the Joker’s plan was simple: He believed that modern civilized society, with all of its rules & rights, was nothing but a facade to be tossed aside the moment you apply some pressure on it. Do that, and people will give to their fears, completely ignore their morals, and humanity will show its true ugly face. And at first his plan seemed to be working, but it ultimately failed at the two Ferries test, where he controlled two ferries, one carrying regular law abiding citizens, and one carrying criminals, and both were filled with explosives. He then told both of them that they had until midnight, and only one ferry can survive, and that each had the switch to blow the other up. Terrified people on both ferries immediately went for the blow each other up option, but in the end, faced with the horror of their choice, how pushing this one switch would end countless lives to save their own, neither group could really do it. The Humanity in the hearts of people who lived in Gotham won, and the Joker lost his bet on their souls. Y’all saw the movie, so you know this. What does that have to do with anything? Well, the thing that dawned on me was this: The Joker was not wrong in his theory, he just chose the wrong sample group to conduct his experiment. Had he done this experiment in Egypt, he would’ve won his bet fair & square. Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?

Exhibit 1: The minute the police disappeared, and crime started rising, people were so terrified of possibly getting hurt or robbed, they immediately supported the idea of Military trials for civilians suspected of committing crimes, where they can be sentenced from 1 to 7 years without lawyers in 15 minute trials. There are now 16000 such prisoner, and people don’t care because they believe them all to be thugs or criminals. Why? Because the Army said so. Innocent till proven guilty suddenly was no longer a priority, & the fact that we were having military trials for civilians AFTER a revolution that got started because of the lack of justice is in itself a very bad joke.

Exhibit 2: The mostly angry public opinion at the protesters when they clash with the Police in Mohamed Mahmoud or the army at Egypt Cabinet, due to the instability this causes the country. Never mind that both clashes were provoked by the respective security forces, people were more mad at the Protesters being there, then of the fact that they were getting maimed and killed. After all, those clashes affected the economy.

Exhibit 3 : The complete denial that people have regarding how clean this election is, especially in its second phase and to the fact that the SCAF are implementing policies into laws that affects the generations to come, by ensuring that no actual change or improvement will be there for them. The reason behind this? People not wanting trouble, since they are almost over and done with the elections. I always marveled at those who believe that ” This is good enough” and ” it’s a start.” It’s like they are stating their lack of concern for the future being sabotaged, since all they care about is right now. They even stop following the news since it makes them angry and depressed. Yep.

Congratulations, Ladies and Gentlemen of the silent majority, you are the people the Joker was talking about. At the first sign of trouble, you abandon your ethics, your beliefs, all the rules of civilized behavior, and you support whatever solution that you believe will cause your problems to go away, at any price, literally. The freedoms and dignities of other people, their lives, whatever. You just don’t want any headaches or inconveniences to your plans, even if the soul of your country is at stake. And best of all, you will justify your point of view with a litany of reasons that reveal your prejudices, your fears, your lack of a moral compass. What? Too self-righteous? Too Harsh? Really? After all the evidence? Want more? Fine, let’s look at the Free Maikel Nabil campaign for example, shall we?

The people who champion the Free Maikel Nabil cause cry their lungs out at the injustice that this young man faces with his bogus charges, illegal sentencing & inhuman conditions he lives under, and everyone simply ignores them. Why? Well, because they have heard that at some point he supported Israel, so..ehh..fuck him. Well, newsflash assholes, not only was he charged for documenting in an epically long blog post the violations that the army conducted against the revolutionaries starting from the 18 days and not his support for Israel, there is no law that prevents an Egyptian from declaring a favorable opinion of Israel if he wishes to do so. To put it to you more bluntly: It’s within his right to declare his support for Israel if he wishes and to write posts that criticize the army, and your personal opinion of how distasteful that may be or how deserving it is of punishment is completely & utterly irrelevant. This is why it’s called a right: because it’s there protecting you, even when you- according to public opinion- least deserve it. Again for all of you not getting this: A right is a right because even in the worst circumstances, even when you least you deserve it, you are entitled to it. (I am repeating this sentence especially for all of you assholes who claim to be human rights activists and supported the Free Alaa cause and yet refuse to support Maikel Nabil because of the “Israel issue”. What a bunch of hypocrites you are.)

But what’s even more maddening, is that we can’t hate them for any of this, because we know that they simply, for some reason, just don’t get it. And it’s not just that they don’t get it: they simply refuse to see it. Hell, when one female Protesters at the Egyptian Cabinet Clashes was dragged and beaten by army soldiers, her cloths torn off, showing her bra, many of them wondered openly why was she at the Protest to begin with and why was she not wearing layers in this cold, unless it was in order to have the soldier beat her up and tear her cloths so she can cause a scandal for the army. Mind you, they are watching the same video as we are, yet somehow, the issue for them is not her getting beaten up by the same army that’s being paid to protect her, or getting sexually assaulted in broad daylight by them, but rather why was she there and if she had this diabolical plot to get the poor army soldiers to beat her up so she can show her bra to the world. Yes, let’s focus on the blue bra, and ignore the boot of the soldier on the stomach right under it. That’s the real issue here, clearly.

But despite it all, we understand. We get it. We get your fears, your hate, your deeply nurtured prejudices, and we refuse to give up on you. We will continue being there, reminding you of your humanity, because we refuse to believe that you are not good people, and that we live in the Joker’s Country. Maybe we are as delusional as you, but to be honest, we just feel guilty and responsible. We do.

One of the points that always get overlooked in the discourse of the revolution is the feeling of responsibility that has befallen many revolutionaries. At times when none of you are watching, in moments we don’t talk about with others, we face what the revolution has wrought, and we take a long hard look at ourselves and what we’ve done. The worst thing about this exercise is how lousy the story gets the moment the 18 days were over. If we hadn’t made the choice to revolt and then hand over power to the same people who used to give the best military salutes for 30 years to the man we revolted against, then all of the misery that followed from the thousands who were injured and maimed, the hundreds dead that we know about (and those we never even heard of their deaths), the thousands who ended up receiving years long sentences from completely unfair & illegal military trials, to the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs, to the millions facing hard times economically due to a transitional government that failed to enact a single economical plan or measure to improve the economy in any way, and to the public, which we introduced terms like “forced virginity tests” into their everyday vocabulary, would not have happened. Yes, we definitely share a responsibility for all of this, but it’s not for causing it, because we didn’t cause it, but for being unable to stop it. Any of it.

We couldn’t protect you from those who used your fears to push forward their agenda of oppression and injustice. We couldn’t protect you from those who incited you to attack your brothers and sisters by claiming they are attempting to destroy your lives. We couldn’t protect you from their inaction, their guns, their military courts, their prisons, and their clear as day goal of aborting this revolution & preventing it from enacting any kind of real change or bringing any justice to all those who were maimed, tortured, imprisoned and murdered. We were so tired after those 18 days, that when the SCAF showed up and offered to guide the transitional period, we jubilantly agreed, because we wanted to believe so much that they are with us, and because we truly didn’t want to clash with them as well. Basically, when it truly mattered, we were chicken-shit and lazy. And we have been paying for this in blood ever since.

In my last post I wondered if the lives lost in Mohamed Mahmoud and Egyptian Cabinet were worth fighting for the symbol of Tahrir, but that was the wrong way to look at it. When the military took over, they promised to hand over Power by the end of September 2011 (remember?), and when that date passed and no power was handed over, they decided to extend the transitional period until end of March 2013. Then the Mohamed Mahmoud events happened, and with the mounting casualties the SCAF was pressured to move the date to end of June 2012, and then the Egyptian cabinet events happened, and with the mounting casualties they are now talking about speeding up the process and possibly having the Presidential elections as early as the end of January. And here comes the lesson: With every life lost, we speed up the transition from military rule to civilian rule. This is why we call them our martyrs, because they are literally getting us closer to our freedom with their very lives. I have always heard that Freedom is only won by blood, but I never wanted this to be the case here. Those people’s blood is on all of our hands, not only their killers’, because their sacrifice became necessary due to our complacency. They are winning us our freedom with their blood, and many of us call them thugs. I guess it’s easier than facing the ugly truth about them and us.

And by the way, the pressure that was placed on SCAF to speed up the process was obviously not internal pressure, since so many of our people were very much pro the protesters getting killed, but rather external pressure. Oh yeah. In case you didn’t know, when news of Egypt now comes on international media channels, they showcase a pictures of a protester getting beaten up by a soldier, with the picture of Marshal Tantawi, who with his military garb and Nubian features looks very much like one of those military rulers of Rwanda or Liberia, or one of those African Banana Republics. In contrast, whenever they showcase news from Tunisia, they showcase a Tunisian girl waving her country’s flag. Brilliant, isn’t it? The outside world sees that something is clearly going wrong here, while the locals are still undecided about that, and believe silly conspiracy theories of invisible hands and third parties, just like a good third world country would.

Egypt…..The Banana republic… The Joker’s country…. Over my dead body. People of Egypt, You deserve better. Believe it!

57 Comments on The Joker’s Country

  1. Seldom
    December 31, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Whatever the SCAF is doing now is nothing compared to the atrocities that will be committed against your people by the Muslim Brotherhood in a few months’ time. The fact that you do not get that shows that there is something seriously wrong with your reasoning.

    • Tallulah
      December 31, 2011 at 7:24 am

      I’m going to take a leap of faith here and say: he gets it. But this issue is so multi faceted, it would take more than one column to discuss every aspect.

      And imho, the MB, whilst definitely being a concern, isn’t the party I worry about. The Salafi party is far more conservative, and ultimately destructive to the future of Egypt, than the MB. Neither MB or Salafi parties bode well for Egypt’s freedom.

    • Mark
      December 31, 2011 at 10:46 am

      Tallulah is right. I’m an American (and non-Muslim) who has been following with some interest what’s happening in Africa and the Arab world lately, and my feeling is that SCAF is really the biggest danger to Egyptian democracy and freedom now. No, I’ll amend that; the apathy that enables SCAF to hang on is the biggest danger. And then SCAF. And then maybe after that, the Salafis and Nour. The Ikhwan are way down the chain.

      It could be the MB/FJP end up hijacking a nascent democratic Egypt and turning it into a repressive Islamic state. But to me, the brand of Islamism that seems to be in the mainstream in North Africa these days is one that admires Turkey and Malaysia, not Saudi Arabia and Iran. And while the Turkish and Malaysian models have their flaws, to put it mildly, they show that Islam and pluralism, including plural republicanism, can coexist harmoniously.

      I think that if the elected assembly is allowed to decide Egypt’s future without SCAF red-inking the constitution and stuffing horses’ heads in the beds of people they want to scare out of the political process, the FJP will ultimately pursue policies that don’t jeopardize Egypt’s image abroad.

      Egypt depends heavily on tourism and foreign investment, and those industries hinge on its image as a tolerant country with equal rights and protections for women and minorities. They depend to a lesser extent on Egypt keeping the peace with Israel, not that I think nonviolent pushback against the entitled attitude of the Netanyahu government would be such a bad thing at all.

      Nour probably doesn’t care as much about Egypt’s image (or stability) as it does about pushing its aggressive interpretation of sharia. But I think the Ikhwan care more about being a viable political force in Egypt than they do in immediately moving Egypt toward theocracy, and the surest way for them to lose trust and popular support among Egyptians is for them to effect major changes that make people wish SCAF (or Mubarak) were back once they’ve (knock on wood) left.

      • Dina daoud
        December 31, 2011 at 11:41 am

        Perfectly well said…got it to the core

      • Seldom
        January 1, 2012 at 7:57 am

        Mark, I do not agree. The MB are far more dangerous than any other Islamist party in Egypt. Sure, they promote a less aggressive brand of Sharia; yet it is there, and while they will not make sudden major changes instantly, they will be “gradually” implementing Sharia, taking Egyptians through a “smoother” transition towards Sharia (as per their statements). Whether sudden or gradual to me, the outcome will be more or less the same: A theocracy.

        Also, while the Salafis are more fanatic/ fundamentalist, strangely enough, I trust them more than the MBs. At least, I know where I stand with them, and I know the type of state they want to move Egypt to (e.g. Afghanistan, Sudan), and I can decide whether to align myself with their ideology or not. On the other hand, The MBs have been very vague and all over the place (pretty intentionally I think) with their intentions, and have made contradictory statements on more than one occasion (e.g. about tourism, economy, etc…) that I can’t buy whatever it is they’re trying to sell me. One needn’t go far to see that the one place they have governed so far for some time (Gaza) hasn’t been this oasis of democracy and human rights they’re trying to sell the Egyptian public and have seen this gradual implementation of Sharia to the point that men and women are now required to swim fully clothed?!? (Oh and when were their last elections again?).

        With respect to Egypt’s tourism and image, I also do not agree. Egypt has always been governed by the military (in the form of Mubarak), without having this hurt its image as a touristy destination. Tourists will be much less willing to be visiting the country now that Islamists are in power (no matter how moderate they appear to be).

        Re: Turkey and Malaysia: not a viable example. Turkey is a “secular” country with a “conservative” party in power. As far as I know, there’s never been any talk about implementing Sharia in this country. Malaysia is not a model I would want Egypt to follow. This country is a mess since some provinces started implementing Sharia, which has led to some of the worst human rights abuses in the modern world.

      • AK
        January 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

        How exactly is pluralism in Turkey working out? Every religious minority, especially orthodox christians, are being discriminated against by law and by authorities looking the other way when extremists attack their facilities. Concerning ethnic minorities, in case you didn’t notice, they are bombing Kurds right now. Their language was until a few years back forbidden to speak. Also, Erdogan has publicly threatened to expell Armenians from his country just a few weeks ago. How is this supposed to be a model for anyone?

  2. TheAlexandrian
    December 31, 2011 at 10:01 am

    “And here comes the lesson: With every life lost, we speed up the transition from military rule to civilian rule.”

    Seriously?? This is the “lesson” you got from the latest deadly street protests?? To call this statement irresponsible is far too light; it’s borderline criminal.

    Are you prepared to tell the families of victims who died on Mohammed Mahmoud St that there was NO OTHER WAY to move Egypt forward except through their relative’s blood?? That but for this young son/daughter of Egypt losing their life, the country would be lost?

    What’s amazing is that you yourself, on The Arabist podcast, alluded to the senselessness of these battles in & around Tahrir. And yet here you are essentially validating their continuation.

    Have some sense – and some humanity – before making such outlandish and dangerous claims.

    • Ben
      December 31, 2011 at 10:46 am

      Alexandrian, I think you didn’t get the point.

      “Those people’s blood is on all of our hands, not only their killers’, because their sacrifice became necessary due to our complacency. ”

      It’s not an invitation for people to go get killed. It is a reflection on the question of responsibility.

      • TheAlexandrian
        December 31, 2011 at 10:58 am

        On the contrary, Ben, I absolutely see it as a question of responsibility. Rather than people like Sandmonkey et. al. taking the lead and putting an end to clashes, they lament about their guilt and their compatriots “necessary” sacrifice.

        “They are winning us our freedom with their blood…”

        How exactly is this NOT an “invitation for people to go get killed?”

    • MWR
      December 31, 2011 at 10:53 am

      I don’t think he said that because he believed it’s correct. It’s because that’s what happened, not what he would have wanted to happen. You’re taking it out of context. Continue reading:
      “I have always heard that freedom is only won by blood, but I never wanted it to be the case here. These people’s blood is on all of our hands, not only on their killers because their sacrifice became necessary due to our complacency”

      • TheAlexandrian
        December 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

        I’m not faulting him for an ex ante belief, I’m challenging him on his ex post analysis – that these deaths were NECESSARY. Whatever he feels about this is irrelevant. It’s the fact that he believes this is the case that’s dangerous and could lead to more CLEARLY UNNECESSARY deaths.

        • acairene
          January 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm

          Err.. you seem to miss the fundamental difference between necessary and sufficient. They may be unnecessary, but his point is that they are having an effect.

  3. ML
    December 31, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Bloodless revolutions against the unwilling have very nearly always had to threaten to spill blood at levels that cause fear in the beneficiaries of the power structure. (Lest it turn their support against them, and/or lest it risk their own wallets or their own necks.) The ugly truth of pristine pacifistic protest movements is that in general they just don’t work without explosive potential. No one with authority gives a damn about a Gandhi — let alone a Maikel — on a hunger strike if they don’t have a sleeping army behind them just waiting to see if they come to harm.

    Feeling responsible? I get that, believe me I do. But I think it would be a mistake to extend that to a point of imagining that with some kind of greater fortitude to en mass stick it out, and to refuse military rule, the numbers dead from this interim would instead be alive, illegal/immoral detentions would have ceased, etc. The army has their line in the sand. We all know it’s in front of their pocketbooks. Threaten to step over it in December, September, July, or February, pick a month — make them think anyone might be willing to even try — and their immovability creates an inevitability for which no amount of feeling guilty can make the revolutionaries realistically responsible.

    • Evine aref
      December 31, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Don’t be harsh on people some do not understand what is going on some others r so much deeply rooted in d old regime, that it seems they lost equilibrium,will take time a d patience to be able to explain, not everybody got the chance to be able to think and to see, we have to thank God that we r the way we r

  4. Sarah
    December 31, 2011 at 11:50 am

    u r wrong …

    those people of Egypt who supported your cause for 18 days didn’t fear “fear”.

    there is a simple miscalculation u always do. you think a country is only its people & its government. countries are more complicated than that.

    & that’s why international pressure work

    & at a point you gotta realize that this international pressure in your favor is being used against you.

    This is why the people of Egypt pick what seems to be the wrong side of things.

    Egypt is more complicated to be described in few words.

    & this is why in 10 mnths your fight turned from being for the Egyptian people to against them.

  5. Dina
    December 31, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I don’t think the revolutionaries are to blame for either causing or not being able to stop the monstrosities that happened because that’s just something out of people’s hands, but I do believe there is truth in your last blog post about people fighting for the symbol and not the cause. If you could fault them for anything, it would be (despite their good intentions,) their short-sightedness, and perhaps even their stubbornness at the wrong times (because granted of course, being stubborn is not always bad). It’s great to want a better Egypt, and to want it now, but does that mean we should arrogantly rush into things every time? People wanted Mubarak gone and said anyone else would be a better replacement, even though some of us were saying the army would be worse. Did anyone listen? No. Some of also said that while yes, Mubarak can’t be trusted, but he does have a point about the radical Islamists (or whatever term is appropriate) that could also potentially be the next dictators, so what’s the plan to handle that? And the response was no answer to question because we “shouldn’t be so naive for trusting the liar Mubarak.” So what do we see now? The military ruling with an iron fist, and the radicals seeping into the ruling system, whether by corruption, or good old fashioned brain-washing of the ignorant.

    What should the revolutionaries do? To be honest, I don’t know. I have absolutely no clue. I would imagine that alienating the “silent majority” doesn’t help. Calling them names doesn’t help, calling them unpatriotic doesn’t help or anything else along those lines for that matter.

    We criticise the public for being ignorant, but let’s face it, what have we done to help them? Aside from standing in Tahrir, what else has been done? Have people gone round to the neighbourhoods, visit schools (both public and private), institutions, companies, have radio and television spots to spread the word about the new democratic values they want to instil in Egypt? And if so, to what extent has it been so far?

    Is it so terrible to think that alongside Tahrir, people could also be working on a gentle and lasting influence on the public? After all, it appears to be what Arabs respond to the most: gentle reasoning and guidance, not a full frontal attack on their traditions that they’ve been living with (whether they’re right or wrong). For instance, I recently witnessed a fight between two family members about the girl with the blue bra (unfortunate) incident. One member was claiming it was premeditated, the other argued back (and rather loudly) that she still got brutally attacked. Eventually I chimed in calmly that whatever her motivation something bad happened to her and, despite understanding your frustration, it was unfair to turn it around on her like that – but it was too late. The other person had felt like they were silenced and not open to listening to what I had to say.

    And that’s what I think the problem is. We criticise the “silent majority” for being so silent, but instead of engaging with them to fully explain our point of view and try to spread some sort of positive influence, we reprimand them and make them feel inhuman, leaving them to drift further apart, far apart from the revolutionaries. And for some reason the revolutionaries can’t comprehend why.

    But that’s just my opinion, of course (meant to be supportive of the revolution in my own way)

    • Dina
      December 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      I also wanted to add that the government is really only as good as it’s people. What good is a uncorrupt government (if we ever achieve that) if the public are the same as ever? – that’s my dilemma

      • Seldom
        January 1, 2012 at 8:05 am

        Very well-said Dina!

  6. Fr. J
    January 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Your revolution focused on the wrong enemy. Often people get “the government they deserve.” You should have focused on the Islamic leaders who have created a culture of bigotry and prejudice against the “other.” That is why hatred of Jews and Copts is so prevalent. I know how hard it is to eradicate such prejudice and we in the West have had to fight wars to try to put an end to it. You should have marched on the Al Azar and changed the Mufti’s. If every mosque in Egypt preached real honest tolerance, peace, and charity would things be the way there are now? It is not just the Egyptian government that needed changing, it is the Egyptian PEOPLE that need to change. And Islam needs to change.

    • homer9
      January 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      I think u r correct. Also, there needs to be freedom of the press- but then again, who would have the nerve to publish an array of books anything like what is seen elsewhere- even if some Egyptian’s are sympathetic to these ideas, they are way too afraid of the Islamic establishment and various muftis with influence to read or write them.

  7. yogi
    January 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Education is the key. Teach the illiterate 40% how to read. Educate the women; many of them will be your allies.
    Perhaps Paulo Friere can be a model for you.

    Democracy and human rights require an educated populace, or at least a very large, educated middle class. Egypt doesn’t have that yet.

    The MB should worry you – the Army wants to control the economy, but the MB wants to control your minds and everyday life.

    • igoy
      February 3, 2012 at 12:16 am

      Paulo Freire? Why? Because his ideas worked so well here in Brazil? His pernicious influence still haunts our country…

  8. Muslim
    January 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    He, he,…. 🙂

    The desperation must be really great. if sandmonkey takes his revelations now from Hollywood. I think he did it always…

    With his atheistic arrogance, he should only not laugh about our islamic revelation, because Batman and Joker are truly fairy stories ..

    • Omri
      January 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Speaking of arrogance, oh, Muslim, do you have anything to say about how Egyptians are going to find the money for the 50% of the food that they import?

      • Ella
        January 5, 2012 at 7:11 am

        Perhaps colleagues of Muslim will borrow money from China. Oh wait, Chinese are arrogant atheists, too

    • Muslim
      January 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Unlike atheists, muslims know who is THE provider (ar-Razaq).

      Therefore (Unlike atheists) muslims do not worry about their “Rizq” and Therefore (Unlike atheists) muslims do not worship to idols. which issued by idolaters as the true provider.

      Of course in the west they would worship even a donkey if they believe he can provide them with more bread beer and Circus.

      For muslims it will always be better to stay hungry or even to die rather than to become a atheistic idol worshipper.

      So i think for the muslims in egypt there will be no problem.

      But for the idol worshippers in egypt it could be better to migrate.

      Thousends muslime from all over the world would replace them, go hungry gladly rather than become a atheists because of a crumb.

      • Omri
        January 6, 2012 at 4:46 am

        For muslims it will always be better to stay hungry or even to die rather than to become a atheistic idol worshipper.”

        And so Muslims like you make an idol out of some snaggle toothed wild eyed preacher. Except, of course, oh, Muslim, it’s not YOU who will stay hungry. Oh, no, your belly is full.

        It starts with desperate street kids like the ones I saw in Cairo long ago, who never seem to benefit from that vaunted Muslim “charity” the likes of you boast of so much.

        And then it spreads. But you will be the last to go hungry. Wallak, tfou!

        • muslim
          January 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

          You forget to talk about the charity of Naguib Sawiris and Pope Shenouda for your street kid. it seems you are an atheist with a tatoo on your hand.

          • Omri
            January 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm

            I am neither atheist, nor a Copt. Here’s a hint: I am forbidden to carry tattoos, and the last time my co-religionists provided charity to Muslims, we were massacred for it by your fellow beardies, so we stopped. Seems you beardies don’t like it when others do the work you won’t do.


        • homer9
          January 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

          u r speaking for urself

  9. Tallulah
    January 2, 2012 at 1:39 am

    Here’s the broken record again: you need to reach the people, that silent majority who isn’t plugged in to social media. They are clinging to what they know because they don’t see any other option, or don’t see how the other options will affect them personally.

    For the revolutionaries, this is frustrating because you guys are all fired up about the fresh new possibilities. You all have had the advantage of time and education to embrace this new Egypt. Now you need to get the rest of the population fired up too.

    In order to win the people over, you need to reach them, in their own environment. Educate them, share with them, experience life as they see it and show them how your vision of Egypt can help them improve their lives. Give them some tangible proof that you are on their side. I’m told there are social programs available, food banks that can be accessed. If this is true, utilize these to help people, and when you help them, they will trust you. When they trust you, they will look to you for advice, and for direction.

    You have a daunting task ahead as both MB and Salafi parties will try to use religion to control the people. But keep at it, via tangible help, advice and education.

    Win them with kindness, keep them with truth, inspire them with vision.

  10. jack
    January 2, 2012 at 5:59 am

    To think that MB/Salafis (same goal just different methods) would NOT be voted into power by a “muslim” population was totally naive.

    MB/Salafis will rule and move Egypt to a place NO ONE but a muslim will want to visit or do business. SCAF will let them as long as SCAF pockets are fat. MB/Salafis will make sure to keep SCAF fat and happy.

    • Tallulah
      January 2, 2012 at 6:27 am

      As I was reading your post, Jack, in Twitter Hossam El-Hamalawy posted a photo that said: “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! ”

      Don’t underestimate the power of the people.

      • Ella
        January 5, 2012 at 7:20 am

        Putting bodies “upon wheels” will not give people food nor make economy better. MB/salafi will give people religion instead of food, what will Hossam El Hamalawy give the people?

        • Tallulah
          January 6, 2012 at 12:55 am

          Mr. El Hamalawy is but one of many many people in Egypt trying to make a difference that will improve the lives of the people. However, that wasn’t the point of the posting. I mentioned his name merely to give credit to the source from which I obtained the quote.

          It would seem that those who hold the power, and those who will hold the power, are not interested in feeding the people or improving the economy. They are only interested in recreating the dictatorship in their own vision, and obtaining/holding on to power. If this continues, the people, hungry and hurting, will continue to rise up, and eventually the machine – the economy, the country – will grind to a stop.

          I think that was the point I attempted, but obviously failed, to make.

  11. Publicola
    January 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    “It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go….”

    Three examples of recent history showing that the way to democracy might sometimes be a long one with the one or the other – or even many – detours:

    1 – Romania: After the collapse of the communist regime, after the downfall of the Iron Curtain (1989/1990),
    the leading and dominant majority party after the „Romanian Revolution“,became the National Salvation Front (FSN), the leaders of which were mostly former communist officials. The FSN and its candidate Ion Iliescu comfortably won the legislative and presidential elections on May 20, 1990, obtaining a majority in both houses / chambers.

    2 – Bulgaria: After the collapse of the communist regime, after the downfall of the Iron Curtain (1989/1990),
    the first free elections took place in June 1990 and were won by the moderate wing of the Communist Party (the Bulgarian Socialist Party—BSP) which formed coalition governments and was in power until 1997.

    3 – Albanian: After the collapse of the communist regime, after the downfall of the Iron Curtain (1989/1990),
    the first free elections were held in 1991 with the communists turning out to be the winners.

    • valerie
      January 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Add to this list Iraq, whose first set of elections after the fall of the Hussein regime split along religious lines, with many people refusing to vote.

  12. Publicola
    January 3, 2012 at 8:30 am

    – The military and the Islamists –

    The non-secular character of the military (regime) in Egypt:

    Nasser, who was once a member of the Muslim Brothers, was clearly no Kemal Ataturk, the staunchily secular officer who founded modern Turkey. Much of the re-Islamisation of Egypt began during his rule. He subsequently fell out with the Brotherhood and threw its leaders in jail, but this rupture was political rather than ideological.
    During Nasser’s reign, the influence of al-Azhar on society, and by extension that of religion, greatly increased.
    Al-Azhar may be moderate by the puritanical standards of the Saudi religious establishment, but it is certainly no liberal institution that calls for the separation of “church” and “state”.
    The Qur’an channel, the region’s first exclusively religious radio station was launched in Cairo in 1963 at the height of Nasser’s power and popularity. Broadcasting a mix of Quranic recitation and preaching, it is inseparable from the Muslim Brothers’ famous slogan, “Islam is the solution”.
    Egypt was and is a supposedly secular state that has never been secular.
    Nasser’s political military successors Sadat and Mubarak may have differed from him in many ways, but they never seriously challenged the role of religion in public life.

    Three factors that have to be taken into middle- and long-term account:

    1 – The election turnout suggests that nearly 50% of voters stayed at home.

    2 – Never has there been such a young population. Half the people of Egypt are not yet 25.
    The level of contact and communication these Arabs enjoy was inconceivable to their parent. Twenty years ago, there was no 24-hour satellite news station in Arabic.
    Now some 80 percent of the respondents are getting their international news from television.
    About 27 percent of those connected to the Internet have signed on to the Web for the first time in just the past year.
    Roughly a third of Egypt’s people now have mobile phones.

    3 – As to the Brotherhood’s strategy “one man, one vote, one time”, the era when such takeovers were feasible has passed. There are too many men and women who have too many ways of making their voices heard, whether on the streets or in cyberspace.


  13. Ahmed2012
    January 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm


    No need to be so down sandmonkey. This coming Jan. 25th is a chance to do it all over again, the right way this time. I’m sure the revolutionaries have learned so much this past year, people are braver, SCAF is weaker, media is freer, state security is weaker, the police are weaker, and we have a viable alternative to SCAF that we can pressure-the parliament. So let’s do the revolution all over again, right this time. If you feel we should focus more on social and cultural change, then let’s do that this time.

    Things were never going to magically all improve in just 18 days of struggle. Change will come in wave after wave after wave. This coming wave will be against SCAF, and if the Moslem Brotherhood or Salafist Nour mismanage then the following wave will be against them till we are free of any dictatorship-Mubarak’s, the Military’s, or the Islamists’.

  14. valerie
    January 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Insightful, and well-said. I hope your people continue to do the hard and boring work of following up on your plan for organizing a few political parties.

    You will meet resistance to the changes you propose, because the Egyptian people have a better life than those in some of the nearby countries, and they don’t want to lose what they do have. They will think, and be careful. This is going to drive you crazy, because it’s going to look like they disagree with you every step of the way.

    Have faith in your own people. You, yourself demonstrated that the people of Cairo are not a bunch of radical nuts who riot at the publication of a cartoon.

    If you explicitly recognize that they are being careful, it will be easier for you to point out the advantages to come, and also to show how the potential difficulties with your plans can be averted. This is going to take some stamina, but it will be worth it.

  15. Publicola
    January 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    – stealing the revolution –

    … interview with
    AAdel Abdul Maksoud Afifi, head of the Salafist al-Asala Party, … and
    Saad al-Husseini, member of the [MB-]Freedom and Justice Party executive bureau. …
    Afifi told Al Arabiya…Copts are still not allowed to become presidents or to run for presidency.
    “The same applies to women.”
    Husseini said, a Copt cannot become president.

    Even if it’s unlikely that Egyptians would elect a Christian, Jewish or Bahá’i president, putting that into law and constitution sends a signal and means:
    that, in this new kind of democracy,
    some people are not so equal after all,
    and some people are more equal .

    compare ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell

  16. N
    January 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Is this really about democracy.. or justice? Is it really about liberal/islamist (whatever that means, everyone is so essentialist in their definitions that you all forget that “Islamist” or even the MB are so variant in their principles and theories that there is no such universal meaning or entity). Its about Justice and its pursuit. some people say democracy is the way, some people debate the style of democracy, ultimately its about equality, the rule of law and agreement on basic human rights. the political system and organizational style and even the governing philosophies (islamist, leftist, rightist, communist, socialist any ist really) can come and present itself so long as it doesn’t touch the basic principles of justice, rule of law and basic human rights. so stop bickering and focus on the ultimate goal here.. to purge egypt of the hurdles to internal justice to its citizens. the rest really doesn’t matter on a revolutionary scale and will sort itself out and change over time anyway..

  17. Publicola
    January 7, 2012 at 3:49 am

    @ N
    … It’s about Justice and its pursuit … to purge Egypt of the hurdles to internal justice to its citizens. The rest really doesn’t matter …

    O.K. – I can and must agree with you. The rule of Justice is a main, if not the essential criterion, of what has been achieved, compared to former times.

    Justice means (in my view – and correct me, if I am wrong) that
    principally everyone (in Egypt) is a human being, a citizen (of Egypt), and is to be treated as such,
    irrespective of his political creed, his skin colour, his place of residence (in Egpyt), his poverty or wealth, joblike and social position, his family connections, his gender/sex, his religion, etc. etc. … you name it….

    But what about relevant political forces who think that
    members or adherents of a certain political creed, or of a certain political skin colour, or of a certain degree of wealth, or of his family connections, or of his gender/sex or of his religion
    are more equal so to speak,
    to be more precise: i.e. have more rights before the law and in social and political life than others ?

    Now, the point is:
    In the last two cases mentioned (i.e. regarding the the criteria: gender/sex and religion)
    the political forces which/who demand
    that certain people: people of female sex or people of non-Muslim creed,
    are not allowed to fulfill a certain political task, political duty, political office , namely: being president,
    are the MBs and the Salafists.

  18. lynne
    January 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Well, I’m depressed. I had hoped for better for Egypt and the region. Perhaps it will be so eventually though not immediately. Thank you for your post, SandMonkey; I always know that I can turn to your blog when I want the truth, accurate insight, and confirmation that there are reasonable, intelligent, caring people in the world. You confirm that for me in these difficult times.

  19. 2face
    January 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    You are aimless. It’s probably in your culture. Which is ultimately the reason for the state of anarchy existing in the entire Arab world.

    You need to focus. What will get you, where you want to be. Shut everything else out.

    All you need to accomplish right now is a constitution that guarantees the rights of the minority, keeps religion out of legislation and a system for counting votes that protects against fraud.

    When you have these 3 things, democracy and patience will do the rest. And it doesn’t matter who gets voted in the first time. They will be voted out the next time. In the beginning people will vote along sectarian and religious lines. And after a few years, when they realize that religion will not create any jobs, they’ll start to vote along economic and traditional political lines instead.

    If you contact the US state department, they’ll probably be willing to spend upwards of a billion dollars to help you craft a constitution. Call them.

    And to all the assholes that will protest against getting help from the outside. We…are…not…out…to…destroy…you. We don’t want to tell you how to live your life. We really don’t. Hence the word democracy. YOU and your country decide for yourself. We just want you to have a stable country that treats it’s citizens decently. Yes seriously.

    Note: And the reason to keep religion out of politics has nothing to do with having anything against religion or Islam. It’s purely a practical matter. When Europe and America adopted democracy 150 years ago, everybody were 100% christian. OK? you get it? Still they chose to keep religion out of politics. Why did they do that? The reason is that it’s not a good idea to have people who claim to represent eternal truths to decide who gets how much in pension, who gets elected as judges, where to build bridges etc. And the reason is that power hungry scrupulous non-religious people will quickly realize that they need to become prominent religious figures to gain power. So religion will become corrupted from the power hungry people who couldn’t less about religion and politics will become corrupted from power hungry non-religious people who claim to represent eternal truth. It just doesn’t work.

    And please note that all the American troops are out of Iraq now. And no American companies got any oil contracts from Iraq either. The US did not invade for oil. OK, get it now? The Iraqi government got to chose for themselves who they awarded the contracts to (Russians mostly as it happened). The war cost the US tax payers a trillion dollars, which they will never get back. And thousands of American troops died with no gain for America what so ever. And they will get nothing in return, not even a “thank you”.

    The US did not invade Iraq to destroy it or for oil or any of the numerous false accusations that have been out there. Do you get it now?

  20. Howie
    January 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Sorry Sandmonkey. I predicted this 2-3 years ago and you did not agree with me. I said Egypt would be the next Iran:

    ‘Egypt Islamists win nearly 2 thirds of seats’
    Muslim Brotherhood claims to have won 41% of vote in lower house of parliament, hardline Islamist Nour Party takes 20%.

    Almost the same pattern…What a pity.

  21. Howie
    January 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm


    I just read an article that Egypt is now having issues with vigilante religious police. All the elements are there…same pattern. Egypt is famous for sand…this time it is quicksand.
    Those that fight the military and religious groups will be arrested, harrassed, intimidated and some will be killed. It won’t be overnight…but short of a miracle, this looks like disaster for folks like Sandmonkey that had hoped for something good. Looks like Iran 30+ years ago…no “one charismatic” leader…well…not yet anyhow. When and if THAT happens…oh man…lights out.

  22. Mike Martin
    January 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    It is not just Egypt. Witness my country, the United States. We have tolerated torture, forced military trials on people who should not have military trials, held people in custody for over 10 year without benefit of any legal rights. Why because we were scared by the events of 911 so much that we were willing to sacrifice our most precious values for a completely false sense of security. Yet some how the critical mass is achieved. Keep it up. There is no other choice. The individual can and does make a difference. Regrettably sometimes with his life.

    • James
      January 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Mike, if it is just the same then I invite you to emigrate to Egypt and enjoy life there. I remind you that they started the war and that many of the terrorists we have released went right back to killing Americans. Newt said it correctly: Andrew Jackson had a policy on enemies of the United States…we kill them. Harsh, but true. We are at war, get that through your head. I have been through several of them, I am a veteran.

  23. Anne Quillet
    January 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    And so the revolution is on a traditional track…going down the drain first, and some good brave souls will keep fighting the good fight…….and yes, it is the good fight that does need fighting but…Nothing new under the sun so everyone is actually playing their usual parts including the silent majority…

  24. Howie
    January 20, 2012 at 5:47 am


    You about got it…except the part where the oppressed soon become the oppressors…That comes soon.

  25. Da Horsey
    January 21, 2012 at 1:10 am

    It makes me happy to see Damunkey writing his perspective but his honesty hits hard and it’s a sad reality that where there are no democratic institutions, the vacuum will be filled as many said by the organized MB.

    But the Salafists getting 20%, just horrible.

    Egypt is in trouble. But most of us with our eyes open knew that.
    Feeling bad for sandmunkey.

  26. Howie
    January 22, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Final results on Saturday showed that Islamist parties won nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament in Egypt’s first elections since the ouster of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak, according to election officials and political groups.

    Read more:

    There will be a day…not to far away…when folks like Sandmonkey will look back at the “good ol days” of Murbarak…and the new guys in town likely are going to drag the country into a war…maybe with Israel…there goes tourism. Monkey…you guys are in a shit mess. It is just way sad.

  27. Denis
    January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    You can’t change the people overnight – it’s a long road, let’s hope it
    works out in the end, you need to give them 10-15 years. As pointed out
    above, that’s what has been happenning in all of Eastern Europe (include
    Russia). The physics of this is very simple: you have two large forces on
    the political scene — SCAF and MB. Even if you manage to align the
    smaller players now to win over those two, this alignment wouldn’t last long. Yet chances are that with time, under new circumstances, the big guys will get eroded and diminish, and the overall landscape will change – or at least so I hope for you, I am still cautiously optimistic. But you guys will need patience (and luck!).
    And say hi to Maikel Nabil – I am glad to know he is finally out.

    • Denis
      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      or yes, forgot to mention – there is also a possibility of (some of) the present big players evolving into something you can live with. Being
      an outsider, it’s a bit hard to say whether this is a realistic option.
      In any case, good luck!


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