2011 archive

دليل الأحزاب للناخب المصري الشعبي

حزب المصريين الاحرار : والله العظيم ماحناش حزب ساويرس

حزب الجبهة الديمقراطيه  : هو الناس كلها راحت فين؟ ده حتى شادي سابنا

الحزب المصري الديمقراطي الإجتماعي :  يساري علق , ليبرالي معرص

حزب مصر الحرية : عشان مبقاش فيه حد عاوز ياخد حمزاوي

حزب العدل : اللهو الخفي

الحزب الشيوعي المصري : الشعب المصري بيموت في الشيوعية. حيصوتولنا آخر حاجة

حزب العمال الديمقراطي : العمال لهم الأرض وما عليها‬

حزب الغد : أيمن نور فاضي يا جماعة

حزب الكرامة والحزب العربي الناصري: عشان عبدالناصر مش هو اللي وقعنا  في خرة الدولة العسكرية  الديكتاتوريه ده

حزب الوفد : فاكرين لما كنا علمانيين؟

حزب الحرية و العدالة  : يعني عاوزين حزب؟ وماله..نعملكم حزب. المرشد اللي ماسك برضوه

حزب البناء والتنمية :  جواري وجهاد يا معلم. جواري وجهاد

الحزب النازي المصري : إنما بجد لازم تجربوا الصنف اللي احنا بنضربه. جامد آخر حاجة

7 Economic Ideas for a new Egypt

A lot of people complain that the government has no vision in regards to how to bounce back our economy, and is instead acting as if the revolution never happened and everything is Business as usual. For 4 months now I awaited a single decent economic plan, or even emergency economic measures (like temporary welfare packages to the lower classes to be able to feed itself until “stability” takes place, or a stimulus package to the small and medium size businesses to keep them afloat for a few months and not have to fire any people), but of course that’s as likely as them inspecting the old budget or trying to find where the public waste or corruption is in it, and cut those costs. In case you didn’t know, the new budget is like the old budget exactly, except that they are spending more money, and borrowing to cover it up, and not reducing the costs on anything. God knows that after reviewing our budget, I realized that if I was running a business the way the Egyptian government was running its finances, I would’ve been out of businesses years ago. That being said, expecting the government to come up with good plans is as likely as The Police starting to act like respectable responsible humans and go to work without abusing anyone: It’s not going to happen. So , instead of pointing out their flaws, which any idiot with a functioning brain can do, I will offer here some ideas of things we can do. This will cover a whole number of sectors, and the idea is to do more with what we already have and encourage that lost wheel of production to be found and to go round and round again. Let’s begin, shall we?

Idea # 1: LET’S PAY PEOPLE FOR THEIR TRASH!

Here is the concept in a nutshell: We live in a country of 85 million consumers, and they consume lots of goods and produce a huge amount of trash, many of which never gets recycled or used correctly, outside of Cairo’s Zabaleen community, which are the most brilliant people this country has in a while produced. But instead of being Cairo-focused, let’s go nationwide. Instead of people paying to have their trash collected, instead we will pay them money for their trash. We will provide trash cans everywhere that will divide the trash into organic and non-organic (with all of its variations) all over Egypt, and teach people how to separate their trash effectively. Then, once a week, the Trash cars come, and start paying people by the kilo for their trash, provided that they have separated it first. The trucks then leave to one of many huge factories that will be built all over Egypt, where the non-organic trash will be divided and recycled again into plastics, aluminum, papers, etc.. to be sold in the market to factories again, and the organic trash will be taken and processed to produce methane gas that will be turned into electricity that will power up the different production lines in the factory, which would reduce the energy needs of the factory dramatically or possibly eliminate it all together. Zero Waste! This idea will do the following : 1) Put money in the hands of all Egyptians for their trash, and actually give them incentive to pick up any litter anywhere in their neighborhoods, because, you know, there’s money to be made off of it now, 2) Hire thousands of workers- because this will be nationwide- who will drive the collection trucks, collect the trash and pay the people, re-separate the trash at the factory, man the recycling production lines, and sales people who will sell the recycled resources to the other factories or the people and 3) Make Egypt cleaner, reduce the horrible pollution from Trash burning and increase efficiency in the usage of our resources. And if you are worried on the business of the Zabaleen, don’t worry; we will simply subcontract Cairo to them. We won’t mess with their system; just integrate them into the cycle. I spoke to people in the IFC about this months ago, and they seemed really excited about the idea, but I don’t think it went anywhere. I am presenting it here again.

Idea #2: LET’S GET OUT OF CAIRO NOW!

I love Cairo. Well, I love Cairo at night. Like maybe from 10 pm till 4 am. The rest of the time, I am starting to hate Cairo: It’s a city overloaded with people (25 million residents, 1/3 of Egypt’s population almost) and Cars, and the centralization of all resources and business on the expense of the rest of the country has not benefitted anyone: The Cairo people are unhappy with how overpopulated and polluted their city is, and complain daily about the hellish traffic, and the rest of the country believes Cairo takes up all the economic development to itself. And the thing is, even when the Cairenes try to leave Cairo, they just go to 6 October or New Cairo, which are Cairo suburbs, and thus Cairo-centric as well, which now means that the traffic isn’t just in Cairo, it’s also facing anyone leaving Cairo, making Cairo a Blackhole of soul-sucking and misery. Let’s change that dramatically by moving entire industries to other areas of the country, and thus creating new cities, new pockets of development, and get people out of Cairo for good and for real this time (none of that 6th of October Crap). For example, let’s move the entire IT and technology industry to the North Coast, and build a huge IT and Technology focused city – our very own Silicon Valley- right behind all of those touristic villages that we only use 3 months a year. That whole area already has paved roads, communication lines, utilities connected to it for those touristic villages, so we will simply need to scale up the existing infrastructure instead of building it from scratch, and it will provide the restaurants, shops and clubs in the area of round the year customers. The IT people will love it, because it takes them out of the city and places them on the beach, the shop owners will love it because it will provide more sources of income for them, the population there will love it because it will mean more jobs whether in construction, factories or companies that will be erected, and the owners will love it because many of them will rent their property all year long instead of a measly 3 months, which will provide them with a higher return on their investments, and a ton of new service-based businesses (banks, car dealerships, retail stores, etc) will open up to serve this new and high-earning population. Another industry we could move elsewhere could be the movie industry, which we could move to Sinai, where huge studios can be built to cater for the Egyptian cinema industry and international cinema companies who will want to film in Egypt instead of Morocco, and thus also hire thousands of people. All the artists, directors, music composers, production people will be moved there, and thus creating the Egyptian Hollywood. And it won’t just be for cinema, it can host the entire media industry, including TV stations, Music companies, and production houses. A city for the arts, on the beach, attracting business and tourism. I would live there, leaving Cairo behind to rot forever! I think you would too.

Idea #3: LET’S GIVE THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT A CORRUPTION COLONIC!

It’s an idea I presented before here, and let’s present it again: The biggest hurdle against new businesses creation is the amount of corruption that exists in all levels of government, which means that if you want to start a new businesses, you have to pay a lot of bribes on many levels. A friend of mine once told me that Egypt is unique in the sense that while in most countries you pay bribes to get more than what’s rightfully yours, in Egypt you pay bribes to get what’s rightfully yours, and it’s true. Hell, if you want to open a new restaurant, there are about 18 different bribes to 18 different government officials that you must pay in order for them to let you open and hire people. If we hope to live in a better country, we need to remove all the bribe-taking individuals from our entire government, and our very scared Businesses men – who paid their fair share there- can lead the way. I want the Businessmen to unify and call for a truth and reconciliation initiative, where they will report every single bribe they paid to a government official in exchange for amnesty, and call on the rest of the population- because he didn’t have to pay some sort of a bribe to get things done here?- to do the same, and thus flush out every single corrupt government official out of the government once and for all, and highlight the weak points in Egyptian bureaucracy that allow such corruption to take place, and take measures against it, and simplify the process. This will also allow the government to get rid of many of its corrupt employees, which means that more openings in government jobs will become available, and the government can reduce its really high salary costs without bothering with early-retirement plans for people who are criminal parasites and have held the economic development of the country hostage for years. And if the businessmen or anyone for that matter, benefitted from that system, they should pay back the money they made off such corruption to the government or society, by funding social projects that benefit the country. Everybody wins!

Idea #4: LET’S HAVE A REAL SPORTS INDUSTRY!

The Sports industry in Egypt is a paradox that I can’t figure out, especially the football industry. Here is what happens: The Sporting clubs, with their football teams, are technically owned by the government, and the government funds them with half a billion pounds a year directly, without the money ever going back to the government, but rather to the Football Union. The Money from the games of the Egyptian leagues, the sponsorships and the TV broadcasting rights never goes back to the government, but rather to the corrupt Football union, whose budget- comprised of all the aforementioned items and the money it gets from the government- is its own to manage and waste, based on their personal preference, without any oversight, and thus they can fund a club like Ahly highly, while give peanuts to a club like ElEsmaely. This is why many clubs have to rely on charity from its fans to get players and compete, while their board of directors get to allocate their budgets towards benefitting themselves, friends or family members. And let’s not even talk about government institutions Football teams. Has no one ever wondered why the hell does a government owned Oil company like Enpi have a football team? Or Why does the Police, or the army, or the border guards have one? Isn’t that a waste of public resources and money? YOUR MONEY?

Instead of that stupid structure, let’s do the only thing that makes sense: The Government must stop wasting money on the sporting teams of the Oil companies and government institutions, and offer the rest of the actual sporting clubs up for privatization, selling 80% of their shares for example, and keeping 20% as a silent partner, or giving it to the members. Can you imagine how much money the government can make from selling a team like AlAhly or Zamalek to investors? Billions. Money that they can use to fund the criminally under-funded sport-centers and-god forbid- our Olympic teams. And those investors who will buy the clubs will start running the football teams correctly: We are talking real broadcasting rights negotiations, Factories creating sports merchandising, and team and club development, which in turn will develop the cities the clubs are in (Have businessmen build new stadiums for example, instead of lamenting our shitty government-built ones). Hell, we could then afford actually buying expensive international players and have them play in the Egyptian league: Imagine Ronaldo playing for the Alexandria sporting club vs. AlAhly with Messi in its ranks. We would elevate the game, start industries, and maybe even fund other sports, like, I don’t know, Basketball. All of it taxed. As for the Football Union, it would be comprised of the reps of club owners, who will make sure that no club gets favorite treatment over another, and that the resources are not wasted, because it will be THEIR MONEY. We could change the game, forever!

Idea #5: LET’S FUND OUR COUNTRY!

We agreed that we can’t depend on the anything, fine. Let’s fund our country ourselves. Let’s create “Patriotic Funds”, a huge fund per governorate that everyone can buy shares in, and that will take the money and invest them in two things: investment projects that the governorate needs, and development projects like schools or hospitals. The Income generated from their investment projects will find the development projects and provide a modest return of maybe 5% for their investors, who will be ok with it since they will see their governorate creating new jobs and factories, and having new decent public schools and hospitals getting built. Schools and Jobs for their kids. Or, we can have a law that states that every business should donate a tax-deductable 2 or 3% of its revenue to an actual social project ( a school, a hospital, infrastructure of an underdeveloped area), instead of PR campaigns like the current Egyptian companies do with their CSR budgets, and the government can supervise the projects. Simple!

Idea# 6: LET’S BRING THOSE EGYPTIAN EXPATS BACK FOR A VISIT!

This is an idea that a young enterprising man named Ahemd Fattouh said to me once, and I will present it here: Why not create a special Friday event, where we call on all Egyptians who live abroad to come down to Egypt and have their own Tahrir experience? And what better time to do this other than next September for the elections? Instead of worrying whether or not they will be able to vote, we should invite those Egyptians abroad to come back to Egypt for a week to vote and enjoy the country’s beaches or touristic sights. By doing that they will 1) ensure that their votes count and 2) provide a much needed boost to our Tourism industry, which desperately need it now. If you get 2 million out of the 12 million Egyptians who live abroad back, and each spends 3000$ on the trip, that’s 6 billion dollars entering the country right there. And we will host festivals and concerts to celebrate their homecoming and their participation, and enticing them to come back for, I don’t know, new years, or quite possibly for the Jan25 one year anniversary celebration next year! The world will see that Egypt is now safe to come back to, and if the tourism companies provide good packages to entice the tourists, our tourism will come back full force!

Idea # 7: LET’S PROVIDE OUR PEOPLE WITH FOOD SECURITY!

The reasons why we have a food-shortage in Egypt is due to three things: 1)We have a population that refuses to stop increasing, 2) We don’t have enough farmland to feed this population and 3) we don’t have enough water to create new farmland. Nothing can be done regarding the population thing, since we believe it’s our god-given right to compete with bunnies in terms of birth-rate. Fine, so we have to create new farmland in order to provide food security, which we can’t do without more water. So, it all comes down to water. But the question is: do we really not have enough water? Or are we simply wasting what we have? Well, anyone who works in agriculture will tell you that we waste our water ridiculously, because many farmers insist of just flooding their farmland with water, instead of using irrigation system that will efficiently water their crops without wasting our most valuable resource. Actually, if we make it a law that all farmlands need to have irrigation systems, not only could we cut down our waste, we could have enough water to at least double our farmland with ease! And they shouldn’t pay for it, the government should provide it for them, especially the poor farmers that depend on the Agricultural assurance bank. And while we are at it, here is a question: how come no one has ever used the lands surrounding Lake-Nasser as farmland? We are talking hundreds of thousands of acres, with water access right there. The movement of water in Lake Nasser to farm that land will ensure that we don’t lose 7% of our water reserves to vaporization, like we do right now, because it won’t be sitting still and will be used to farm that surrounding land, and thus increase our farmland and provide us with more produce, which will be sent to factories for packaging and ensure our food security. And since we are talking about Lake Nasser and food security, why not take advantage of the huge amount of fish that lives there? Do you know how much a Kilo of Fish costs in Aswan? 7 LE. Do you know how much it costs in Cairo? 23 LE! We could create an entire fishing industry, build a factory that will put the fish in cartons and ship it in frozen trucks or trains to be sold all over Egypt, feeding everyone cheaply, and to hell with the Cholesterol-inducing super-expensive red meat consumption, which in turn will lower the demand on it and make it more affordable to all Egyptians. New Farmland, new factories, more jobs and food security, and it won’t cost much. Why don’t we do it?

Just think about it!

Regarding that Referendum

One of the most persistent talking points by SCAF recently is that the people chose them to lead during the transitional period, and that the Referendum was really about giving the Armed Forces “the revolutionary legitimacy to lead” us. Now, as you all know, My view on the referendum has been that what’s done is done, and that people chose, and that we need to move on and focus on the election, because we shouldn’t take away from the people the experience of having their voice heard for the first time, even if that’s not true. Unfortunately, due to this persistent talking point, which is always followed by an accusation that the revolutionaries are trying to subvert Democracy by demanding a new constitution or a Bill of Rights first, I find myself unable to keep silent any longer. Fine, you want to talk about the referendum? Fine by me. Let’s go over this!

Now, mind you, this post won’t cover the usual whining of not having enough time for the No campaign, or how the MB told the people that if they vote yes they will go to Heaven, or how the army itself influenced the vote by telling the people that a Yes vote is the best way to move forward, while declining to give us a real choice as to what they will do if people voted NO, making the alternative seem mysterious and dangerous. None of that. I won’t even discuss this report that alleges, due to statistical fraud analysis that the referendum results were tampered with, and that blatant fraud took place. Instead, I would like to go over some facts with you, and let you decide for yourself.

1) The Referendum was proposed as an amendment of 8 articles to the 1971 constitution, thus bringing the constitution back to life temporarily until we create a new one. The voices opposed to this was that the 1971 constitution gave unchecked powers to the President, and we should have a temporary constitutional declaration until the election of a national committee to write the new constitution (which was one of the original demands of the Jan 25 revolution, alongside with a  Civil Presidential Council, which the SCAF promised back then they would fulfill). We were soundly ignored, and the referendum took place, and the Yes vote won, thus technically & legitimately resurrecting the 1971 constitution.

2) The 1971 constitution clearly states that in the event there is no President and no head of Parliament, then the head of the Egyptian Supreme constitutional court would have to be the next President temporarily for 60 days, until new presidential elections are held. There is nothing in the 1971 constitution that gives the SCAF any mandate to legitimately rule us.

3) Upon realizing that, the SCAF instead killed the resurrection of the 1971 constitution without informing us ( which would render the referendum constitutionally illegitimate, since it was done based on false pretenses), and instead announced that those articles we voted on will be part of a temporary constitutional declaration (oh yeah! That’s why we- No People- were gloating at the Yes people in case you were wondering), and then added 55 articles giving themselves the power of the President to rule unchecked and the Parliament to issue laws, and thus the modern SCAF was born.

4) Needless to say, those voters in the referendum didn’t vote to give SCAF absolute and unchecked power, and didn’t vote for the 55 articles they gave us as a bonus on top of the 8 we actually voted on, which also makes the temporary constitutional declaration and the Powers it gave SCAF constitutionally illegitimate as well. That’s two reasons why the referendum and thus resulting rule of SCAF are constitutionally illegitimate for those of you who are still counting.

5) But even if one ignored the first two reasons why this referendum can not be used to justify all the shit that’s been happening for the past 4 months, or if you didn’t care and would have voted to give SCAF the mandate to rule out of trust anyway, well, there is the little problem of how they did alter the text of the very few articles that you actually voted on when they issued the constitutional declaration. Don’t believe me? LOOK AT THIS!

Yep, even the 8 you actually voted on were tempered with. That’s Three reasons why this referendum and the resulting temporary constitutional declaration and the Rule of SCAF are constitutionally illegitimate. And in case you still don’t get it: That’s three times you were made a fool of. That’s three times your democratic will was actually subverted by the SCAF, the people you trust most, in order to ensure that the power in the country isn’t in civilian hands and instead is in theirs.

“But wait”, you will say,”forget all that. You are no better. You don’t want me to choose my constitution via parliament. You want to subvert democracy, create a national committee to write a constitution to your liking, and  impose your ideas on me and my way of life, just like SCAF did. Right?” Well, no, not really.

Voting for Parliament that will vote for a committee that will write the constitution is a novel idea, but there are two problems with it: 1) The supreme majority of , if not all, the people voted into Parliament are not qualified to write a constitution. It’s kind of like having to create a nuclear reactor, but instead of sending your nuclear-physicists, you send you in your cousin who you trust to be good and honest. Great intentions, Most-likely catastrophic results;  and 2) Requiring a 50+1 majority to pick the committee means lots of political haggling will take place, which means that our rights will be up for barter based on a group’s beliefs or political interests. Such political haggling is fine when it comes to laws, because laws can be changed easily, but this constitution is staying for a long long time. So, in essence, you will vote in people that are probably unqualified, and who will follow their own personal beliefs instead of yours, and have them  barter over voting  for a group of people who will then write your constitutional rights, instead of having a list of qualified experts (let’s say law or human rights experts), which you would vote for directly, who then would write the constitution, which is what the vote for the national committee is. The vote for a national committee means that You get to directly choose who writes your constitution, knowing full well that they are qualified for it. How that is subverting your vote, or an abortion of democracy, I have no clue.

Now I am neither calling for you to overthrow SCAF or call for a National Committee for a constitution, or even support us, the revolutionaries. God knows I am gearing up for the election season and will fight on every front I can to ensure that by hook or crook our rights are secured either way. As I stated, this an attempt to counter a talking point that is both false and used as justification for things like military trials and forced “virginity checks”. I am simply reminding you that there are many people who want to take away rights from you or fool you, but we are not one of them. We are disorganized, arrogant, drained, angry, unable to communicate our message clearly and you might not even like the way some of us look like, but we are not liars. Deal with that.

A lot of the ideas in this post are blatantly stolen from a conversation I had with Alfred Raouf, who kicks a whole lot of ass and is a lot smarter than he looks. :P

The Egyptian Bill of Rights

Here is my suggestion for the Egyptian Bill of Rights, which I have spent the past week discussing with many civil forces and groups, and has managed to get a lot of support for it. The Free Egyptians party adopted it as their position, so dida number of other civil movements and forces as well, including “Together for a Civil State”. I welcome any other party, civil force or movement that aims to push it as well. This is not about Credit, and whoever wants the credit or has been working on it in parallel, please be my guest and take it. I just want to see this secured, and have it as an inalienable and irrevocable part of our constitution. I have explained the rationale for them here, and you will find the full text below, which is copied and pasted from the Universal declaration for Human rights, which Egypt is a signatory of. Please review and let me know what you think. This document is open for discussion.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
  • Everyone has the right to education.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
  • Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
  • No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
  • Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
  • Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
  • The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

مرة أخيرة

في العلوم السياسية، هناك معضلة فلسفية بشأن مبدأ دعم الديمقراطية. وقد نتج عنها مناقشات لا تعد و لا تحصى. المعضلة تكمن في السؤال التالي: هل دعم الديمقراطية يعني تبني أي قرارات تصدر عن الأغلبية حتى لو كانت تلك القرارات تعني تدمير الديمقراطية المشار إليها؟ أم أنه يعني التأكد من إستمرار العملية الديمقراطية حتى لو كان ذلك على عكس رغبة الأغلبية؟ إذا ضللت الفرق هنا، دعني أسوق لك مثالا من المنطقة، من الشرق الأوسط. الجزائر 1991

في عام 1991, كانت المحاولة الأولى الحقيقية للقيام بانتخابات ديمقراطية في الجزائر. وقتها ترشح حزب الجبهة الاسلامية للانقاذ على أرضية مفادها أنه لا ديمقراطية في الإسلام، وأنهم بمجرد وصولهم إلى سدة الحكم سيلغون الانتخابات الديمقراطية المستقبلية. وقد كان، صوتت الأغلبية بالفعل لحزب سيوقف العمل بكل أشكال التصويت!، مما أدي بالجيش أن يلغي الانتخابات على الفور، ما بدوره بدأ حربا أهلية عصفت بالبلد في أتون الفوضى لسنوات عدة. الآن إذا اعدنا طرح السؤال، من كان على حق؟ هل كنت تدعم فوز حزب الجبهة حتى لو كان ذلك يعني أنه لن تكن هناك إنتخابات ديمقراطية أخرى للأبد، وبالتالي لا ضوابط ولا موازين على حكمهم؟ أم أنك تعتقد أن إستمرارية الديمقراطية أهم للحياة السياسية والأجيال القادمة لهذا البلد، حتى لو كان ذلك يفسد على الأغلبية الحالية رغبتها؟ معضلة لطيفة أليس كذلك؟ لا يكف الناس عن النقاش حولها.

الأن دعني أخبرك لماذا إشتركت في الثورة بالأساس : بجانب التخلص من نظامنا القمعي الحبيب، كل ما أردت من الثورة هو وثيقة الحقوق المصرية، نافذة نهائية ولا يجوز صرفها أو إيقاف العمل بها أيا كان من بيده السلطة. أردت حق حرية الرأي والتعبير بكل اشكاله (الفني وغيره)، الحق في التجمع السلمي،حق الحرية الدينية، حق المساواة بين جميع المواطنين في الحق والحريات (بغض النظر عن الجنس، الدين، العرق، النسب، اللغة، الأصل الاجتماعي أو الرأي السياسي), الحق في المعلومات والشفافية لتبقى حكومتنا دائما تحت الرقابة وقابلة للمحاسبة، الحق في عدم الخضوع للتعذيب أو القسوة أو أي معاملة غير إنسانية، الحق في حماية متساوية من القانون والأمن، الحق في عدم التعرض للاعتقال أو الإحتجاز أو النفي العشوائي،أو إسقاط الجنسية بغير حق، الحق في إن يعتبر المرء بريئا حتى تثبت ادانته، الحق في محاكمة عادلة أمام هيئة قضائية مدنية نزيهة، يتمتع الجميع أمامها بالتمثيل القانوني، وأخيرا الحق في التعليم. من أجل هذه الحقوق خاطرت بحياتي وبدني، وهي ليست بحقوق جديدة أو أفكار مستحدثة، كلها وأكثر منها يمكن الرجوع إليها في الاعلان العالم لحقوق الانسان

عندما تبدأ ثورة، فإنك لا تقوم بها لتستجدي هذه الحقوق، وانما عليك انتزعها عنوة ممن حرموك اياها. تلك الحقوق هي الركيزة لأي مجتمع أو دولة ديمقراطية متقدمة، وهي لا تقبل الجدال أو النقاش، وملعون أنا إن وصل البرلمان احد يمنعني تلك الحقوق أو يفاوضني أو يساومني عليها. معذرة. أنا أريد هذه الحقوق أن تكن جزء من الدستور، بغض النظر عمن ينتخب للحكم. ولا يسمح بأي حال لمن وصل إلى السلطة أن يعبث بتلك الحقوق أو يغيرها، وله كامل الحرية في أن يفعل ما يريد بباقي مواد الدستور. لكن هذا منطقي أنا، ولك أن تتفق معي أو تختلف بقدر ما تشاء. ما أريد مناقشته الآن، هو لماذا يجب أن يخرج الناس إلي مظاهرات 27 مايو. لن اطلب من أن تذهب من أجل مطالبي، مع أن ذلك سيكون بادرة لطيفة، ولا لأجل مطالب المتظاهرين (يعلم الله أن هناك 7 قوائم مختلفة من المطالب يتم تداولها حاليا، والبعض سيذهب بدون قائمة واضحة من المطالب الخاصة بهم)، لأن المتظاهرين غير منظمين ومنقسمين ويئسوا من الحديث مع أي حد إلا مع أنفسهم في الوقت الراهن، ولا أطالبك بالذهاب للدفاع عن الثورة. لا، أنا اليوم أريد التحدث إلى الأغلبية الصامتة عما يهمهم: الإقتصاد، الأمن والاستقرار، ولماذا يجب عليهم، أكثر ممن سواهم، أن يذهبوا إلى مظاهرات 27 مايو، لأنه حقا وصدقا إن كانت تلك النقاط الثلاثة أكثر ما يهمك فاسمح لي إن أخبرك أنك في مأزق شديد، وكما كان الحال أيام مبارك، ليس بسببنا. عفوا

أعلم أنك ستختلف بشدة، فدعني اطرح عليك حجتي ثم قرر بنفسك، اتفقنا؟

عن الاقتصاد :

الآن السرد المتداول حول الإقتصاد يجري كالتالي: البلد تجاوزت حافة الهاوية، والآن في سقوط حر سريع، كل الاحصائيات تشير إلى كارثة محققة، إحتياطي الغذاء سينفذ بنهاية الشهر، ومتظاهري التحرير مازالوا مختطفين عجلة الانتاج ومحتفظين بها في التحرير مغطاه بأعداد منهم! ا ليس هذا مايقولون؟ حسنا، دعنا نسرد الحقيقة: الحكومة الانتقالية والمجلس العسكري فشلوا خلال 4 أشهر حتى الآن في أن يقدموا لك ما يمكن أن يشبه خطة إقتصادية عاجلة فيما عدا ، الجملة الشهيرة، “المظاهرات لا بد أن تتوقف”. وقد دأبوا، بإحصاءات مذهلة، أن يخبروك بمدى المصيبة التي تواجهنا، من دون أن يعطوك مرة خطة عمل واضحة كيف ينوون انقاذنا! (بالمناسبة، أنا لا أري فارقا بين تأكيد طنطاوي لنا أن أمة فقيرة، يعيش فيها 70% تحت خط الفقر وما بين تصريح مبارك الشهير : “احنا بلد موارده محدوده، أأكلكم منين كلكم؟”). تغاضى الآن عن قصة “سينفذ مخزوننا الإستراتيجي من القمح بنهاية الشهر” وهي القصة التي ظل المجلس العسكري يرددها الآن لأربعة أشهر، ودعنا نركز على المشكلة الحقيقية: أين معونة الطواريء – المكونة من مال وكوبونات غذاء – المخصصة لأقل الطبقات في مصر، والتي من المفترض أن تساعدهم خلال الأشهر القادمة حتى الانتخابات؟ أين صناديق التحفيز المخصصة لمساعدة الأعمال المتوسطة والصغيرة لعبور الفترة الانتقالية؟ ماذا؟ نحن لا نملك أي أموال؟ هل رأيت ميزانيتنا؟ لا أحد منكم فعل. أنت لا تدري ما هي مصروفاتنا ومدفوعاتنا، لأننا ممنوعون حتى اليوم من مراجعة حسابات بلادنا. أين المبادرات الجديدة التي حفزها التحرير نحو تكوين العديد من الشركات الناشئة والمبدعة؟ ماذا عن السياحة؟ كيف لا توجد مبادرة حكومية يتيمة لتشجيع السياحة تستفيد من الروح الجميلة التي نشأت في التحرير؟ لماذا لا توجد حفلات تحتفي بالحرية المكتسبة، معارض أو أحداث سياحية؟ لماذا على سبيل المثال، لا يوجد متحف ل 25 يناير، للناس لتحتفل بمصر الجديدة الحرة؟ هل قام سعادة وزير السياحة المحترم – صاحب مصنع مربى الفراولة سابقا – بتقديم أي مبادرة مثيلة؟

وماذا عن العقبة الحقيقية في طريق كل الاستثمارات ومشاريع النمو الاقتصادي التي نتمناها أن تبدأ في مصر : الفساد المؤسسي؟ لماذا لم يعالج أو حتى يشار إليه حتى الآن؟ ولماذا تروج لخرافة أن رجال الأعمال مستهدفين؟ إن وجود 7 أو 8 فاسدين منتفعين مقربين للنظام السابق في السجن ليس أبدا بالأمر الذي يحول الدولة إلى كيان ضد الاستثمار ورجال الأعمال، بل ضد الفساد العلني الرهيب. أنت يا راجل الأعمال الشريف، تريد أن تبرئ ساحتك وألا تنضم إلى من نفوا أنفسهم إختيار يا من ال منصور أو المغربي أو الحمقى الأخرين الذين حولوا مليارات إلى دبي؟ هاكم فكرة : تجمعوا وإبدأوا مبادرة للحقيقة والمصالحة. نحن ندرك أن الأغلبية العظمى منكم ليسوا فاسدين، لكنكم كنتم محاطين بثقافة فاسدة لم تكن لتسمح لكم بعمل أي شيء من دون دفع 18 رشوة مختلفة. نحن نفهم ذلك، لأننا جميعا دفعنا مثلكم رشاوي للحصول على أي خدمة عامة بشكل لائق. حسنا، لقد دفعتم رشوي فيما مضى، لكن الآن لحسن الحظ القانون المصري واضح: لو كنت قد دفعت رشوة وقمت بالابلاغ عن الواقعة، سيذهب هو إلى السجن وليس أنت. فلماذا لا توحدون أنفسكم الآن وتقدمن بلاغات رسمية ضد كل من إضطررتم إلى دفع رشوة له من قبل لتخليص أعمالكم، وننظف البلد مرة واحدة وأخيرة؟ أنتم لن تتحملوا أي مسؤلية قانونية، وفي الوقت ذاته ستقدمون خدمة جليلة للبلد بفضح الفاسدين في كل الوزارات و المحليات و المصالح الحكومية وتطهيرها كلها دفعة وحدة. تخيل ذلك. تطهير كامل من كل المرتشين في كل المصالح الحكومية، وبأيديكم. ستصبحون أبطالا على الفور، ولن تضطرون مرة أخرى، أبدا، إلى دفع رشوة لضمان سير أعمالكم! إنه ربح مضاعف! و إن كنتم لازلتم في خوف من المسؤلية القضائية إطلبوا العفو والحماية، وهذا جزء المصالحة! أما عن الحكومة، فإن كانت جادة حقا في تطهير البلد من الفساد وتهدئة مجتمع المستثمرين، كان عليها إقتراح ذلك، لكنهم لم يفعلوا، يجب عليك أنت إذن أن تطالب بذلك.

عن الامن :

فلنبدأ بأبسط الأسئلة: أين الشرطة بالضبط؟ هل تعلم أنه غير بعض الوجوه الذي ظهرت في الشوارع لتنظيم المرور، لم تظهر الشرطة لتؤدي واجبها؟ هل تعلم إنه ماعدا في الضواحي الأنيقة لوسط القاهرة (حيث يتجمع ويتحرك معظم الصحفيين الأجانب والإعلام المحلي) لم تظهر الشرطة بعد؟ وحينما تظهر ترفض التصرف؟ هل تدري أن هناك محافظات بأكملها لا أثر للشرطة فيها على الإطلاق بعد الثورة؟ وأن الناس هناك لا زالوا يحمون أنفسهم بأنفسهم؟ ولن اتحدث عن حقيقة أنه في حين قتل ما يزيد عن 800 مصري في الثورة، لم يداً حتى الآن إلا فرد واحد من الشرطة !، وقد حوكم غيابيا لأنه لا يستطيعون العثور عليه، لأن التعسف وجرائم القتل التي ترتكبها الشرطة لا يبدو أنها تضايقك، مع أنهم لا يهتمون ولا يفرقون بين من يقتلون.

لا، لن اتحدث عن ذلك كله، فلنتحدث بالأرقام: الشرطة هي الجهاز الوحيد في الحكم الذي تلقى زيادة في المرتبات، مرتين ومع ذلك لا يذهبون للعمل !. إذا افترضنا مرتباً مبالغ في تحقيره، قل 1000 جنيه لفرد الشرطة (اخذا في الإعتبار تدني مرتب أمناء الشرطة وتضخم مرتبات اللواءات)، إضرب ذلك في 1.5 مليون فرد شرطة، يكون الناتج 1.5 مليار جنيه مصري، في الشهر، أي حوالي 6 مليارات جنيه مصري في الأربعة أشهر السابقة فقط، نظير عدم قيامهم بعملهم! إذا أخذنا ذلك في الإعتبار جنبا إلى كوننا مفلسين وميزانيتنا تنزف كمان يقولون، فإن صرف هذه الكمية من الأموال على أفراد لم يكونوا يقوموا بعملهم قبل الثورة، وبعدها يرفضون القيام به، بالتأكيد سيبدو لك غير مقبول. أفراد الشرطة يقبضون مرتباتهم ليقوم بعملهم، فإذا كانوا يرفضون القيام به فلا يجب دفع مرتباتهم حتى يقوموا به، بالإضافة إلى إنه يجب مجازاتهم على ذلك. من ناحية المبدأ، لقد أقسمو قسما على الموت في سبيل تطبيق القانون و الدفاع عنك، وهاهم يحنثون بذاك القسم، وهو ما يقع تحت بند الخيانة. إلى متى تنوي أن تقبل ذلك وأن تتوسل اليهم ليقوموا فقط بعملهم؟ الى متى ستحتمل ذلك؟

عن الاستقرار :

الاستقرار يأتي من الشفافية، من فهم ما يجري حولك، وإلى أين تتجه البلاد، وهو ما لا نفهمه. نحن لا نعرف تاريخا لإقامة الانتخابات، عمليا قد يكون أقل من 100 يوم، حتى الآن. نحن لا نعرف شيئا عن سياسات الحكومة ولا عما كانت تفعل مختلف الوزارات في الأشهر الأربعة الماضية. لماذا لا يتضح لنا حتى الآن إن كانت حكومتنا تاخذ اجراءات في مواجهة المشاكل التي توجهنا؟ لماذا ليس هناك تقرير أسبوعي في كل الجرائد عن المواضيع التي تعامل معها المجلس العسكري والحكومة الانتقالية هذا الأسبوع وماذا على أجندتهم للأسبوع المقبل؟ لماذا يجب علينا أن ننتظر أمام الفيسبوك حتى يصدروا لنا بيانا غامضا وفي بعض الأحيان مناقض تماما لبيان سابق؟ وبما أننا نتحدث عن ذلك، لماذا سمح لهذا وهذا أو هذا أن يحدث؟ كيف يكون هناك إستقرار في ضوء ما سابق كله؟

 

وسؤالي الأخير، بعد مراجعة كل هذا، كيف يمكنك أن تظل ساكنا ولا تفعل شيئا؟ كيف لا تكون أنت بنفسك من ينظم مظاهرة الجمعة المقبلة في التحرير؟ لقد كنت مخلصا، لقد كنت إلى جانب المنطق. لقد أثمت مرات ومرات أنك سلبي للغاية، وأنك مبالغ في الرضا، وأنك مفرط في الرغبة في التنازل بلا سبب، وأنك رافض بشدة لترك الكنبة والوقوف من أجل أي شيء. وأنك لست براغب في القتال من أجل مستقبل بلدك التي تحبها، وقد تقبلت كل ذلك، واخترعت الحجة بعد الحجة، لشهور عديدة، ولا شيء بعد. كيف لا تكون غاضبا ؟؟؟

هذه الجمعة، أنا ذاهب إلى التحرير، وللمرة الأخيرة. وأنا ذاهب لأني أؤمن أن مطالبي عادلة ومشروعة. مطالبك ليست أقل شرعية، وحق لك أن تراها نافذة. لذلك، اذا كنت قد ذهبت للتحرير خلال أيام الثورة الثمانية عشر، ثم توقفت بعد ذلك، فالوقت قد حان لتذهب مرة أخرى، و تعلن مطالبك. وإذا لم تكن قد ذهبت قط للتحرير، وكنت جزءا من الأغلبية الصامتة التي لا تبغي شيئا إلا الأمن والاستقرار و الإزدهار الاقتصادي، فإنك، وأكثر من أي أحد آخر، يجب أن تذهب للتحرير هذه الجمعة، ولمرة أسمعهم صوتك ولا تبق صامتا بعد كل شيء. إذهب مرة واحدة، وخذ معك كل أصدقائك ممن يفكرون مثلك، ولتر إن كان ذلك لن يحقق مطالبك في أقرب وقت ممكن. إن صبرك قد اتخذ من المسلمات، وكل التماساتك وقعت على آذانا صماء على الجانبين. لقد حان الوقت لك أنت أيضا أن تتخذ موقفا.

Thanks to Amy Ash, Waleed Nada and Ahmed Omar for assisting in translating this post. 

One Last Time

In political science, there is a philosophical conundrum regarding the concept of “being for democracy”, and it has started 6 million thousand debates. Underlying that conundrum is the following question: Does being for Democracy mean supporting whatever decision the majority takes, even if it means the destruction of said democracy? Or does it mean supporting and ensuring the survival of the democratic process, even if it’s against the will of the majority? If the difference eludes you, let me give you an example, from right here in the middle-east. Algeria in 1991.

Now, in 1991, there was the first real attempt for democratic elections in Algeria, and the Islamic Salvation Front- an Islamist party- ran on the platform that there is no democracy in Islam, and that the moment they will seize power, they will cancel future democratic elections. And they won, the majority actually voted in a party that would end all voting, which led the army to immediately cancel the election, which in turn started a civil war that plunged the country into chaos for a number of years. Now, who is right here? Would you support the ISF’s win, even if it means that there will be no more democratic elections ever, and thus no checks and balances on their power? Or do you believe that democracy’s survival is more important for the well-being and the future generations that will come to this country, even if it subverts the will of the majority? A fun little conundrum, eh? People go on and on about it.

Now, let me tell you why I joined the revolution in the first place: Besides getting rid of our past lovely authoritarian regime, all I wanted out of all this was an Egyptian bill of rights, unalienable and irrevocable no matter who is in Power. I wanted the right to free speech, the right to free expression (artistic and otherwise), the right to peaceful assembly, the right to religious freedom, the right of equality between all citizens in terms of rights & freedoms (irrespective of Gender, religion, race, lineage, language, social origin or political opinion), the right to information and transparency to keep our government always in check, the right not to be subjugated to torture, or cruel or inhumane treatment, the right for equal protection of the law and security, the right not to be arbitrarily arrested, detained, exiled or have your citizenship stripped from you, The right to be considered Innocent until proven guilty and to be tried by a fair and impartial civil tribunal, where everyone has legal representation, and finally the right to education. Those are the rights I risked life and limb for, and they are not new or novel ideas, and you can find them all, and many more, in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, right here.

Now, when you start a revolution, you don’t have a revolution to plead for those rights: you have one to forcefully take them from those who denied them to you. Those rights are the foundation for any advanced democratic society or country, and they are not up for debate or discussion, and I will be damned if I will have someone elected in parliament denying me those rights or trying to negotiate or barter over them. I am sorry. I want in my constitution those rights, irrespective of who gets voted into power. And those who get into power should not be allowed to tamper with them or change them in any way, but are allowed to do whatever they want to the constitution after that. I don’t care if those elected state that we will be a Fascist country with Scientology as the source of all legislation, for whatever they will do, or whatever authoritarian/ sectarian/racist/sexist legislation that they will try to enforce on us in the name of security/ public morality/whatever will not be able to ever interfere with our blood-earned rights. As long as we have those rights in our constitution, we should be ok on the long run, and never be abused by a leader or a regime again.

But that’s my reason, and you can agree or disagree with it as much as you want. What I would like to discuss now, is why you, the general public, should go to the May 27 protests. Now, I won’t ask you to do so for my demands (although it would be nice if you did), nor for those of the protesters ( and god knows there are 7 different demands circulating right now, and many people who are going without a clear set of demands of their own) who are disorganized and divided and have given up on talking to anyone but themselves at this point, nor even to go there to defend the revolution. No, I want to talk to the silent Majority today regarding their set of interests: The Economy, Security and Stability, and why more than anyone, they should be going to May 27 to protest, because , seriously, if those are the three things you care about the most, well, you are getting screwed, and – just like the days of Mubarak-not by us! Sorry!

I know you will beg to differ, so let me present my argument, and then make up your mind. Deal?

On the Economy:

Now, the narrative regarding the economy has been as follows: The country is going downhill fast, all the statistics point to impending doom, we will go through our food reserves by the end of this month and the Tahrir Protesters have continued to hijack the wheel of production and are hiding it in Tahrir and covering it with protests. Does that sound about right? Ok, how about we tell the truth: The Transitional government and the SCAF for four months now have failed to present to you anything that resembled an emergency economic plan other than, well, the protests must stop. And they have repeatedly informed you with fantastic statistics about how screwed we are without once giving you a clear action plan as to how they plan to save it (And by the way, I see no difference in Tantawi asserting to us that we are a poor nation where 70% live under the poverty line without a clear plan or a notion of a plan as to how they will remedy that, and Mubarak’s famous response of “we are a country with limited resources; where am I supposed to feed you all from?” in an interview). Never mind for a minute that the whole “we will run out of our strategic wheat reserves at the end of this month” statement has been said by the SCAF every month for the past 4 months and it never happened, and let’s focus on the real issue: Where is the emergency aid package – consisting of money and food stamps- to egypt’s lowest economic classes designed to get them through the next few months until elections are held? Where is the stimulus package designed to aid small and mid-size businesses to also get through the transitional period? What? We have no money? Have you seen our Budget? None of you have. You don’t know what our revenues or expenses are, because we are not allowed to review the country’s finances until this day. Where are the new initiatives that they can spearhead and harness the positive energy that Tahrir created into creating many start-up and innovative companies? What about Tourism? How come there hasn’t been a single government initiative to encourage Tourism based on the fantastic goodwill that got generated in Tahrir? Why aren’t there freedom concerts being planned, touristic events- or even, Gee, I don’t know, a Jan25 Museum- to have people celebrate the new and free Egypt? Has Our Esteemed Minister of Tourism- whose previous job was owning a strawberry jam factory- proposed a single such initiative?

And what about the real hindrance to all businesses and economic developmental projects that wish to start in Egypt: institutional corruption? Why haven’t you tackled it or demanded it being addressed yet? And why do you perpetuate the Myth that Businessmen are being targeted? Having 7 or 8 corrupt very corrupt regime-connected Oligarchs in prison isn’t the country turning anti- Business or Businessmen, but rather anti- incredibly public corruption. Hey, Businessmen, you want to clear your names and not join the Mansours and Maghrabis in their self-imposed exile in London or join the other idiots that transferred billions to Dubai? Here is an idea: Join up and start the Businessmen Truth and Reconciliation initiative. We know that the supreme majority of you aren’t corrupt, but that you were surrounded by a corrupt culture that wouldn’t allow you to do anything without having you pay 18 different bribes. We get that, cause we all paid bribes to get any kind of public service done efficiently. Fine, so you paid bribes, but thankfully the Egyptian law is clear: if you paid a bribe to someone and reported it, they go to jail, and not you. So how about you all join up and file official charges against all of those you had to pay bribes to in order to get your business going and clear the slate once and for all? You wouldn’t be legally liable, and you would be doing the country a huge favor by exposing all the corrupt officials in all the ministries, municipalities and government institutions and cleaning them out once and for all. Imagine that. A Purge of all bribe-takers in all government institutions, and you would be the ones doing it. You would become Instant Heroes, and you would never have to pay a bribe again for your business to continue to function! Double Win! And if you are worried about legal liability, simply demand Amnesty. That’s the reconciliation part! And the government, if it’s really into cleaning the country of corruption, and calming the business community, they should’ve suggested that. They didn’t! You should demand it.

On the Security:

Let’s start with the simplest of questions: Where is the Police exactly? Do you know that besides showing some face as traffic police in some parts of Cairo, that’s the only time they have showed their face or done their jobs? Do you know that outside of the posh neighborhoods of Central Cairo (where the foreign journalists and local media move and congregate) the police still did not show up, and if they do, they refuse to act? Do you know that there are entire governorates that the Police never showed up at after the revolution, and the people are still fending for themselves there? And I am not going to talk about how when it comes to the 800+ people that got killed in the revolution, only one policeman was ever convicted for murder, and it was done in absentia because they can’t find him, because police abuse and murder doesn’t seem to bother you, even though they don’t care or differentiate who they kill. No, let’s talk numbers: The Police is the only group in the government that received raises for their salaries twice, and still didn’t show up for work. So, if we decide that we use the very unrealistically low average salary of 1000LE per policeman (factoring in low salary for Omanah and the high salaries of lewa2at) and multiply that to 1.5 Million official Policemen in Egypt, we are talking 1.5 Billion LE a month. That’s 6 Billion LE in the last 4 months, for not doing their jobs. Given that we are broke and our Budget is bleeding as they are saying, that’s money being wasted on people who were not doing their jobs before the revolution and are refusing to do so after, which I am sure you find to be unacceptable. The Police are getting paid to do a job, and if they are refusing to do it, then they shouldn’t be getting paid at all until they do it and they should be penalized for them. In essence, they swore an oath of death to uphold the law and protect you, and they are breaking that oath, which amounts to treason. How long do you intend to accept that and beg them to do their jobs? How long will you take that?

On Stability:

Stability comes from transparency. From understanding what is going on and where the country is going, which we don’t. We don’t know the date the elections will be held on, which technically could be less than 100 days away, until now. We have no clue what policies the government is taking, and what the different ministers have been doing for the past 4 months. Why isn’t it clear whether or not our government is taking action on the issues facing us? Why isn’t there a weekly report in all newspapers outlining the issues that the Transitional Government and the SCAF tackled this week, and the issues they have on their agenda for the next week? Why do we have to wait in front of Facebook until they release to us another Info-statement that is vague and sometimes in total contradiction to a previously released one? And while we are at it, why is this, this or this allowed to happen? How can there be stability in the light of all of this?

And my last question: Upon viewing all of this, how could you continue to sit still and not do something? How are you not the ones planning this Friday’s protest in Tahrir? You have been loyal. You have been on the side of reason. You have been accused time and time again that you are far too negative, far too complacent, far too willing to compromise for no reason and that you vehemently refuse to leave your couches to stand for something. That you are not willing to fight for the future of your country which you love. And you took all that, and You have made excuse after excuse for months and still got nothing. HOW ARE YOU NOT ANGRY?

This Friday I am going to Tahrir for one last time, and I am going because I believe my demands are just and legitimate. Yours are not any less valid, and you deserve to have them realized. So, if you went to Tahrir during the 18 days of the revolution, but stopped afterwards, it’s time to go again and make your demands known. If you have never been to Tahrir, and have been part of the “Silent Majority” who want nothing more than Security, Stability and Economic prosperity, then you, more than anyone, should go to Tahrir this Friday and for once make your voice heard and not be so silent after all. Just go once, and get all of your like-minded friends to go, and see if that won’t get your demands met ASAP. Your patience is taken for granted, and your pleadings fall on deaf ears on both sides. It’s time for you too to take a stand.

See you there!

Offensive

This post will be offensive. I am not sure how else to announce that more clearly than to have this as the title. If you are easily offended, then please read no further. This is the truth of my opinion at the moment, no holds barred. Deal with it.

 

Like many of you, I have been greatly disturbed by the Church Attacks in Imbaba, so much so that I found myself in the middle of Imbaba, at midnight, in front of the 3adrah church , as it stood there burning with people still locked inside. I wanted to see for myself who was behind this, scared shitless of course, envisioning myself arriving there to find myself attacked and surrounded by fundamentalist Islamists who will be less than friendly towards someone like me. What aided that paranoid perception was my Phone call to the Daily News Ian Lee, who-in abated breath-informed me that he was attacked by a mob when he arrived to Imbaba with a number of fellow foreign journalists, and had to escape it with his life. So, here I was, going there, with-mind you- a female activist friend, heading to what I was expecting to be a completely violent situation, in order to get the truth of what’s going on and confronting those nice violent people who did this. Total Insanity on our part, but completely necessary none-the-less.

When we arrived there, there was a huge crowd (maybe 7000 men, not a single female in sight, even though I knew Sarah Carr was there) gathered in front of the burning church, and they were visibly upset and angry. Their anger wasn’t directed towards the Christians in the area or the church, but rather at those who did this. More than one eye-witness told me the same story: That the people who attacked the church were: 1) not from that Area, 2) Not Salafists, but rather clean-shaven thugs, one even identified one of them as a paid thug that he has seen before, who threatened everybody with knives and blades, set the church on fire and escaped the moment they heard the Police were coming. The locals were busy trying to put out the fire, getting people out of the church and the adjacent building, cheering on and helping the Fire Fighters as they were putting out the fire and getting victims out. For about two hours I watched the population as they expressed their anger and frustration at those who burned the church, many of them expressing the phrase over and over “We don’t know who did this, but it can’t be from us. Egyptians were never like this!”

Those words kept circulating in my head all of the following day and yesterday. “Egyptians were never like this! Egyptians were never like this!” And the more I hear it the angrier I get, and the more I read of people’s responses on Twitter I get even angrier. It’s easy for us to be Egyptians and Proud when we don’t engage in sectarianism (or in the case of that church, have someone paid to fuel its fire), but we cannot fool ourselves or others. This is not new. Egyptians were like this for a long long time, and this is not likely to stop anytime soon either, if we are completely honest.

Actually, if we are to be brutally honest and realistic, we would have to admit that sectarianism has its roots deep in the foundation of our society, and that, in reality, as horrible as this situation is, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in the 80′s for example, when all of Imbaba was declared an Islamic state, or when churches and movie theaters used to be bombed (Now they just burn them…Progress). And if this is planned by a country that doesn’t wish to see us democratic and Independent (Saudi) and with the objective of burning the country to the ground and make Egyptians fight each other over religion, then in all reality we need to expect this not to be the last attack, but rather the harbinger of things to come in the following few months. That we should expect about another 20 church attacks and about 9000 more dead, Muslims and Christians, until every single Egyptian in this country, with unbending conviction, decides that this cannot be allowed to go on anymore. Sure, we could take steps to mitigate the damage from now, but that would require us to face a number of issues we don’t want to face, and actually do something about it instead of demanding that others do. Luckily, there is enough blame to go around for us all, so no one is walking away clean from this one: Muslims, Christians both share the blame. Let’s explain how in precisely that order, shall we?

How the Muslims are responsible for this:

It’s unfair to say that a group of fundamentalist extremists or a group of paid thugs- and thus a minority- should by their actions define the behavior of an entire population of people. True, but that doesn’t mean that the Muslim population can walk away smelling like roses from this one. Far from it. If anything, the Muslims of Egypt have created the chasm that exists today between Egyptians of different faiths through 1) Ignorance of the “Other”, 2) complete lack of interest in learning from the past and its mistakes and 3) total deficiency in self-awareness as to how they are representing themselves and their religion. If we ignore the sectarian nature of some of them, and everything else is being equal, those 3 reasons are responsible for all of the sectarian problems that remain pervasive in Egyptian society today.

Ignorance of the “Other” is where it all starts. Let’s start with a simple test: What do you know about Egypt’s Christians and the Coptic Church? How many of you know anything of the Church’s history, and the history of Muslim/Christian co-existence in Egypt, besides what government issues history books tell us, which is absolutely nothing? Are you aware that historically it is the only church in the world that can go head to head with the Catholic Church in terms of history, importance and influence on Christianity as a whole? That it has reach all the way to Ethiopia, and has directly influenced Rastafarianism at its inception? Or let’s take it on a more basic level: Are you aware that not all Christians in Egypt are orthodox Copts? Or that the Bible was not written by Jesus? I know that putting those last two questions here is offensive, if not downright condescending, to many of you, but please go and ask your friends and family members. Their answers will be incredibly amusing to say the least.

The Muslim population doesn’t seem aware that saying that Jesus was never crucified or that the Bible has been altered is offensive to Christians as a whole. They don’t seem to have a problem with a government educational system that forces Christians to read Koranic verses as part of their Arabic language education. They don’t seem to mind when on Islamic holidays, the nice lady on TV congratulates the entire country, and on their singular holiday that we recognize, the same lady wishes “our Coptic brothers & sisters” all the best on their holiday. In reality, the Christians in Egypt know more about Islam and Muslims than they ever wanted to, and the Muslim population, well, they don’t know much and almost never ask. But don’t you dare call us sectarian, because we all have a Christian friend that we have known since forever & always been “cool” with his religious orientation, despite the fact that we don’t know anything about his/her culture, except that they have weird vegetarian dietary habits most of the year, which never stops us from eating meats in front of them, regardless of how offended we get if they dare to drink water in front of us during Ramadan.

And if we can’t learn from those amongst us in the present, we definitely won’t learn about the history of Christian-Muslim relations in this country. No one wants to learn about the atrocities committed by Amr Ibn ElAss, when the Muslim army “opened” Egypt, which lead through a series of unfortunate events to the eventual assassination of Osman Ibn Affan on the hands of Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr, which in turn lead to the “War of the Camel”, the first true Islamic civil war, which also lead to Sunni-Shia divide. No one wants to know when we actually stopped making Egyptian Christians paying the “Jizzyah”, which they had to pay till the mid 19th century (only 150 years ago, which means they had to be second class citizen- by virtue of their faith- in their own country for a good 12 centuries). But, then again, no one wants to remember the 90′s or the 80′s, where Christians were attacked and killed in droves by fundamentalist Islamists , and definitely no one has learned the lesson of the new Year’s eve bombing of the Alexandria Church, which later on was proven to have been planned by the Mubarak State Security apparatus. You want to hear a funny story? When they asked Camilia Shehata on TV, if she never converted, then how did the Salafi Sheikh have her ID and marriage certificate, she said that she doesn’t know how that happened, because the people who took her papers from her were State Security. You would’ve been able to see it, but it was broadcasted on an Egyptian Christian TV channel. Oh yeah, those exist. I wonder how many Egyptian Muslims watch them, even for educational purposes.

Which brings us to the final point: How Muslims present themselves to those around them. Let’s just focus on two examples for the sake of not making this article 17 pages long: Religious sermons in Mosques, and general population behavior. Now, we all have heard Friday sermons where the Imam does nothing to talk about the evil Jews and Christians all the time, and how we have to be vigilant and other such beautiful example of hate speech that we just shrug off as normal (It’s not like we ever listen to what the Friday sermon says anyway; The guy could be reading from a phonebook for all we care!). Now, I often wondered what the reasons behind such sermons were, because they don’t reflect current reality. We live in a country where the supreme majority is Muslims, and there are maybe 100 Jews left in the entire country, and Islam is the world second major religion, & gaining more ground rapidly. Why the defensiveness and paranoia? And then I realized that the problem is very simple: the religious discourse of the Friday sermons has apparently not evolved since the days of Islam’s inception, when Muslims were a small but scrappy bunch and the entire world was against them. But now? Now Muslims are over one billion people, and their countries are rich and influential, i.e. Big Time Players in the world’s stage now. They are no longer a persecuted scrappy minority, but they still act like and see themselves as one, instead of acting with the Grace required of people in their position. Over one billion people and they are still paranoid about & scared of maybe 20 million Jews worldwide and 10 million Christians here. Imagine!

Which brings is to the general population behavior, which is a paradox of its own: the complete disconnect between piety and morality. I left the country in 1999 for college and returned in 2004 for good, but I visited the country every few months, and noticed a very peculiar thing: The Muslims were getting more and more religious, yet they are not becoming better people. They pray 5 times a day, most of the girls got veiled, almost everybody had Amr Khaled fever, and yet, they had no problems with lying , or cheating, or trying to rob you, or treating you rudely. For example: The Taxi driver would be blasting a religious sermon and then try to rob you blind on the fare, and sees no contradiction in his actions. The guys who would be late for class because they had to pray gamaa for every prayer were also the same guys that cheated off of each-other at tests. And let’s not even mention the amount of lying I’ve seen veiled girls engage in. All of that schizophrenia, dirt off their shoulders. Also dirt off their shoulders: attacks on Christians every time they wanted to build a church. Hell, some of them justified and defended such attacks by stating that the Christians were trying to provoke Muslims by building a church, & that those Muslims were simply- and I quote- “jealous for their religion”, like that’s supposed to be justification or an excuse. Never mind that it is the right of Christians and Jews to build places of worship on land that they own as they damn well please. Never mind that this behavior signifies a serious insecurity in those Muslims belief system, where they seem to believe that their religion can’t handle local competition (and its hilarious byproducts- like the unannounced but totally noticeable competition of making sure that the Minerate of any Mosque built next to a church is always taller than the church’s Tower). Never mind that Jealousy- in general- is an inferior negative emotion practiced by the immature and the senseless. But then again, Salafists Fundamentalists always claim that their actions are out of “jealousy for their religion”, so I guess the shoe fits in this specific case.

Now, for anyone paying attention, none of this is news or in any way informative, but unfortunately very few do, and even fewer attempt to address those issues. Our country has sectarian undertones, and many of which come from the Muslim Population (I will address the Christian ones in the Christian section) and its daily social practices, and therefore can be exploited. Please note that I never even touched on how Muslims find it acceptable that many companies will simply never hire Christians, or that they will never reach certain positions- no matter how good they are- because of their religion, and other such embarrassing topics, because they are not reflective or pervasive in society as a whole. But everything else, well, Muslim readers, you tell me! How comfortable was reading those last few paragraphs for you?

 

What they need to do now:

Well, needless to say that all three issues presented above need to be addressed by Egypt’s general Muslim Population if we are ever to be a country not divided by sectarian lines. However, since we are facing a crisis, let’s just focus on damage control for now. And here is all I will ask of you dear Muslim reader who is concerned about the unity and well-being of his country: Talk to people. Seriously.

Talk to your life-long Christian friend and ask him or her about their culture, their family, what they go through and what they don’t say in front of you. Tell them that you won’t be offended. Try to understand where they are coming from.

Talk to your family members and friends who have repeatedly said hateful or ignorant stuff in front of you and explain to them what they are doing. That they are fermenting the ground for future sectarian attacks by their rhetoric and behavior.

And finally, you know that Imam in that mosque near you that week in and week out does nothing but insult Christians and Jews in his Friday sermon? Well, bring a bunch of like-minded people from the neighborhood and talk to him. Explain to him that he embarrasses Islam & Muslims by his narrative, that because of such sermons that some people find it justifiable or acceptable that churches or Christians get attacked and that given that this is your mosque you will not allow it to be a center for spreading hatred and division amongst people from the same country. Do you realize that religious stances, radical or conservative ideas are influenced by the congregation and not by the religious leader? Well, you, by being part of the congregation, have the power to change the stance of your leader. Same goes to all the Islamic Tele-evangelists. Inform them that you won’t allow them to define you or your religion by the other religions anymore. That they should focus instead on how to bring us together by advocating the principles of tolerance that Islam preaches. Do that, and we won half of the battle right there, at least where you live. Now imagine if this spreads to the entire country.

Also, when such attacks like the Imbaba attacks happen again, please be the first one to call for a show for national Unity, and make sure that all of your Muslim friends show up. If we hope to beat this, we have to show Unity like never before, because the enemy this time doesn’t just want to scare the Christians into voting one way. The Enemy hopes to destroy any hope for us for a post-sectarian future. And we can’t allow this to happen, now more than ever.

 

How the Christians are responsible for this:

Now, I am not in the habit of blaming the victim for being attacked, so nothing here will be related to this attack directly. However, there are a number of things that the Egyptian Christians need to face, and there is no better time than the present. The first part is the harsh truth: Many of them are equally as sectarian as their Muslim counterparts. Sure, a lot of it is a reaction to the actions taken by the Muslim population, and yes they are not a quarter as vocal, and not even a tenth as violent, but what’s good for the goose is good for the Gander, so we will deal with their sectarianism here as well once and for all. Please note that the Christians I will discuss here are mainly the Coptic Christians, even though the other denominations share similar symptoms to various degrees.

If there are roots to The Christian sectarianism in Egypt, they come down to two main reasons: 1) victimized minority/Ghetto mentality amongst the poorest Christian social classes and 2) the role the Orthodox Coptic Church, and its leadership, plays in their lives. Let’s talk about them in that order.

The first problem is the easier to identify and explain: due to what they perceive to be a hostile antagonistic environment against them in every facet of society (in terms of rights, work opportunities, career advancement, not to mention education & entertainment), the Christian community, with notable exceptions due to intellectual or social status (i.e. this doesn’t hold true to the rich Christians), has closed its self off on the outside world and started functioning in their own little hidden ghetto society that exists all around us all over Egypt. Churches become more than simply places for worship and fellowship: they become the focal point, if not the universe, of those who attend it. Christian Boys and Girls go there and only hang out with Christian boys and girls, and then go to camps together to make them even closer, and thus ensuring that the supreme majority of the friends of those Boys and Girls are also Christians, with, as always, the random Muslim friend or two that they acquire. And even the relationship with that Muslim friend can never truly be honest, because Christians are taught not to engage their Muslim counterparts in direct discussion or express their grievances from them to them directly, because, well, how “sensitive” Muslims get and how “extremely” they will react to such a discussion. So instead they deal with the problem internally, by praying away their grievances or injustices that they face daily, by never vocalizing them out to the world if a Muslim is around, and by being internally resentful of the fact that this is the life they have to lead.

To most, it never passes the point of silent internal resentment and feeling victimized in their own country, and thus start feeling that this country, despite how much they love it, is not their country anymore. How could it be when they are afraid of, well, everything, and not without reason? So many seek to just leave the country, while others stay and accept this as their reality and try to be part of the society as much as they can, within the small parameters they allow themselves to function in. As for the rest, well, they go full-on sectarian, and start mimicking their Muslim counterparts. They engage in equal insulting of the Islamic religion on every platform they could find, and many amongst them start advocating adopting the “islamist” idea of not dealing with those “heathen Muslims” all together, because “they are filled with deceit and hatred towards us”, which is exactly what the “heathen Muslim” counterpart say about them, verbatim. But all in all, all of the groups above suffer from the same ailment: as much as they love this country and are attached to it, they don’t feel welcome here at all. Only inside their social ghetto they get to feel as if they belong to something, that they are accepted for who they are, and thus become totally invested in protecting it above all else, and anything else is irrelevant. And nowhere is that more apparent than in their demands. If you looked closely at their demands, you would notice that they are all sectarian in nature: a number of rights for Copts; not equal rights for all. And while you understand that they naturally want to address the issues that affect their livelihood as a minority, those in the end are religious sectarian demands. Fine. Noted. But besides that, if you ask what their demands as Egyptian citizens for Egypt are, they will tell you that they only have those demands, and if they get them, they are fine with whatever else happens. I was once having a conversation with a Coptic rights activist, where I was discussing how the secularists and the Christians should align themselves together against the Muslim Brotherhood in the elections, and he basically told me that if the Muslim Brotherhood give the Christian community those demands, they won’t mind them being in power, as long as they leave them alone and in peace, while “the Muslims can burn fighting with each other over this country”. I wanted to explain to him that, actually, no, because at the end of the day secular Muslims and religious Muslims are both Muslims, so they can always work something out, just like what’s happening now, which leaves the only people burning being the Christians, literally.

But this is the crux of the problem: Coptic Christians don’t exactly want a secular state, they just want a state that lets them live their lives by their own rules and that’s it. How is that different than a secular state you ask? Well, because the country has more than just Muslims and Christians: It has Shia, Baha’ais, some Jews and a whole bunch of atheists and agnostics. A secular state would give rights to all of those groups, and make everyone equal. The Christians have another thing in mind, which is nowhere more apparent than their proposed position on the infamous Article # 2 of the constitution : They don’t want it removed, they just wanted to add a sentence that basically states that Christians get to follow the laws set by the church, because it says that other religious minorities based on their religious institutions, and Egypt only recognizes Islam, Christianity and Judaism as religions, and since there are practically no Jews, this will only provide preferential treatment to the Christians and the Christians alone. I have to say that their suggestion an amendment is brilliant though, and we should all follow it: The 100 Jews should ask that they follow Jewish laws, the Baha’is can follow Baha’i laws, the secularists can demand their own laws, and I will demand that they also add my name to the article, and create laws specifically tailored for Mahmoud Salem and Mahmoud Salem alone. Let’s all just follow our own laws, like we are separate countries, despite the fact that we share the same space. Brilliant.

The thing is though, we joke about how the Coptic Christians act as if they are part of a separate parallel country that occupies the same borders as Egypt, but at this point, they are not just acting like it: they are flat-out demanding it. And why wouldn’t they opt for a secular country, where civil law would rule supreme and make everyone equal? Well, mainly because the Coptic Orthodox Church doesn’t want that. Why not? Well, because a secular state where civil law exists means that alongside religious marriage, there will be civil marriage, and thus civil divorce. And we can’t have that for Coptic Christians, cause, how else would we control them? No, it’s better to keep it this way, making the only way for orthodox Christians to get a quick and immediate divorce is through conversion to Islam, which was Camilia Shehata’s motive, in case you didn’t know. She wanted to leave her husband, couldn’t, escaped, some Muslims took her in, presented her with the idea that since we are in an Islamic country, no Christian man can marry a Muslim woman, so if she converts to Islam, she will be automatically divorced. All of those who died in the name of Camilia, they wouldn’t had there been civil divorce, but since the Coptic Church doesn’t allow divorce and would probably fight a civil marriage law as much as the Muslim Brotherhood would, we will probably be in a similar situation like Camilla’s sooner than we would ever want to be in. (And while we are on the subject of the church and Camilia, what does it mean when I read in the newspaper that the Prosecutor General Office formally called for Camilia to come in for questioning, and the Church refused? How could the Church refuse the formal request for investigation by the government for an Egyptian citizen? How? Not only did they simply deny Camilia her agency rights, they are also getting her to break the law, because if you get called in for questioning and you don’t go, well, that’s a crime right there, and one that she could end up going to Jail for. Can someone explain this to me please? I am all ears!)

And this brings us to the Coptic Orthodox church, and the role it plays in aiding this sectarianism as well, because, well, it’s good for them in terms of Power, and by them I mean Pope Shinouda and his crew. Who could deny that during his reign, which now outlasts Mubarak’s, he has managed to turn the Church into more than just the spiritual representative of Coptic Christians in Egypt, but the political representative as well? Or how he managed to turn the church almost into a parallel government, and one that negotiates with the Egyptian government on all the concerns of its subjects, usually for a Price that is usually too low? I recall during the 2005 elections reading a scan of a Coptic church newsletter that got sent to me by a Coptic friend, and its two top news bits were “Pope Shinouda declares in the name of of all Copts in Egypt support for Mubarak for President” and right next to it “President Mubarak agrees on giving permits to building 2 new churches in Egypt”. At the time there was serious uproar amongst the Coptic Christians in Egypt, who openly wondered 1) how dare he speak politically in the name of all Coptic Christians and 2) If this means they are bad Copts if they vote for someone else and 3) if their voices worth is so low that it only equals two new churches. But this Power-sharing agreement between Shinouda and Mubarak continued all the way through the Revolution, where –in case you forgot- The Pope, in the name of the church, announced his support for Mubarak throughout it, and many Christians violated his orders and went anyway. Now while it would be disrespectful to ask the Coptic Christians to hold this position against him religiously, one has to wonder why he is still their leader politically, especially after 30 year of continued political marginalization under his political leadership. One also has to wonder where the Christian politicians are. How insane is it that for 10 million Christians, I can only name Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Naguib Sawiris, Mona Makram Ebeid and Ramy Lakah as actual politicians? Oh yeah, I forgot Nabil Louqa Babawy. My bad. But on a serious note, can someone explain to me, in the absence of independent Christian politicians, how exactly different is the Coptic Church under Shinouda from the Muslim Brotherhood? Both are religious organizations with political agendas that only aims to consolidate their powers over their respective religious sects, both provide a parallel society to its members and their children since they are very young, both employ similar social models of dealing with the outside world, and both don’t want civil law or a secular country. For all intents and purposes, both are almost identical, to the point that I sometimes wonder why they don’t just join forces.

The Point is this: the moment the only political representation you have is the religious representation you have, and all of your demands are religious and sectarian in nature, is also the moment you lose the right to complain if the other religions did that and you become equally as sectarian as you accuse them to be. Think about that!

 

What they need to do now:

Well, there are two concerns right now: one is immediate, which is to try to prevent more church attacks now. The other is to prevent this insane situation to continue to influence our lives.

The solution for the first concern isn’t having more security or army personnel protecting the churches, because that never really did much in the past, and especially not now, given the state of anarchy we live in. The reality of it all is, if those churches are to be protected, they have to be protected by the people in the neighborhoods that they are in. That means, the Muslims have to help protect them, and many of them are sectarian as I previously mentioned. How do we manage to swing that?

Simple really, ask them to. For real. I am not kidding. If you are a Coptic Christian and you live in a neighborhood that houses your church and you are concerned about it getting attacked, gather all the Christians in the area, divide the streets of the area between them and have them go to all the Muslims in their respective locations and tell them the following: “We are worried about the safety of our church. Not from the people of this neighborhood, but from the outsiders who are trying to destroy Egypt by engaging in such attacks, thus make us all fight and hate each other. If we ever hope to defeat those dark and evil forces, as our Lord-of-the-rings-reading-SCAF likes to call them, we have to band together, and protect the church”. I guarantee to you it will work, because even the most sectarian Egyptian will not be able to stop his nature of trying to protect his neighbors and friends, especially if they are asked to. Hell, go to the Imam of your local mosque after your conversations with the rest of the neighborhood people and take a bunch of Muslims with you, and have him call for the protection of the church during Friday Prayers. The people will form groups, be vigilant, and from that moment on it will engraved in their psyche that no one should attack that church. It’s their area’s church now, and under their protection first and foremost. Social engagement. Creating a sense of communal responsibility. This stuff works.

Now, on to the second concern: how Coptic Christians make sure that those insane situations stop. Well, the first thing they need to do is decide if they are all for inclusion in post-revolution Egypt or not. If they are not, and would rather live in this parallel universe that occupies the same space like the rest of us but not with us, that’s their right, but they have to be honest about it. And they have to let all of us know. Because the revolutionaries all want them to participate: we all want them to be part of the Egyptian society again. Not because we need their votes, because if the referendum is any indication, Coptic Christians are as voting averse as ever, but because we could use their input. Because a country divided alongside sectarian lines is not a country, and it’s definitely not what I signed up for in this revolution.

Secondly, they need to decide what they want in this country as Egyptian citizens. What is their position on the social issues? What is their position on economic policy? What is their position on freedom of speech and artistic expression? What each one of them envisions this country to be and for them to act on that vision. And then thirdly, they have to either join a party or form a new one, and partake in the process of building a new Egypt. To say that it is imperative that every single one of you that is interested joins a party or a movement is an understatement. Some of you will join the liberal parties; others will join leftist parties, while 3 will probably join the Muslim Brotherhood party. It doesn’t matter. What matters is this: have an actual and real political representation in all parties. Run for office even if you believe you will lose. Be part of this and help rebuild this society, because otherwise this rift will continue to exist and it really shouldn’t any longer. And finally: talk to your Muslim friends. Explain to them everything from your side. Trust me when I tell you that they don’t know. A lot of us got to know each other in Tahrir and in our neighborhoods people’s committees; it would be a shame if we stopped now.

7 Popular Myths about the Revolution

There are a number of myths that seem to dominate the discourse in Egypt’s upper and middle-class, and subsequently national and international media. Given how frustrated I am by all the “experts” – foreign and
domestic- pontificating really superficial analysis about something they can neither understand nor grasp, I have decided to write this post. I apologize beforehand for anyone who might read this and think my tone is condescending, because I am not being nor trying to be that and I hope you have the wisdom not to mix the message with the messenger!

1) The Army is co-opting the revolution/trying to establish
another military dictatorship

WRONG. This is a prevalent one, and it has strong roots: the arrests of some protesters and their torture, the insistence on ending protests, and the lack of transparency of the Army’s actions. But please take a minute and stop thinking of the Army as a monolith or an institution, and think
of it as a bunch of human beings. The Army is a conservative institution, it doesn’t believe in chaos, and has operated for 30 years based on direct orders from Mubarak. The supreme council is a bunch of 60 and70 year olds who are not used to deliberate amongst themselves to how best deal with civil issues, and they look at the world in terms of balancing risks. And now they have to deal with all the rapid pace changes in the country and the pressures both internal and external and they are working harder than they ever thought they would work in their lives. I mean, can you imagine how a day of any of them looks like? Between internal issues (security, corruption in every sectors, economy, foreign policy), international conflicts, hiring new people, dealing with international diplomats who all want to meet him to either discuss their concerns or make demands, the situation in the borders, running the affairs of the army, facing demands and questions and requests for interview by foreign or local media and then getting cursed out by name in Tahrir by 250,000 people last Friday. Can you imagine their schedule? And the average age is 60 something to begin with, so imagine how low their energy levels are.

The Supreme Council views his country as a powder-keg and they want to hand over the responsibility as fast as possible, hence the referendum, but until that day they believe, wrongly, that they are the only force that can keep this country from being ripped apart at the seams. You think they can take over the country? With what army? Against Egyptians after they have become organized and formed their own militias? How fast do you think such an attempted takeover will last, before they are all killed or face an inevitable insurrection within their ranks? They wouldn’t last 3 days, before every single last one of them would be killed. They joined the revolution and made the high-council in order to ensure their survival first and foremost. They are more scared of you than we are scared of them.

2) The NDP/Mubarak is still controlling the country
WRONG. The supreme majority of the NDP are shitting in their pants, every single one of them dreading the day their sins will be exposed to the public, and they are watching their leaders getting plucked and investigated one by one. The reason why the Military is taking its time with the big names is that it needs to 1) build up the civil cases against them and 2) to feed them to the public at the best opportune moment, which with mounting pressures is looking closer every day. As for Mubarak, just watch as his credibility is being destroyed, and how slowly but surely the perception of him as the traitor who helped assassinate Anwar Sadat in order to take power and neutralized Egypt for 30 years, during which he kissed Israel’s ass in every conceivable way, in order to ensure his survival and US support is being formed. Go to any newsstand any day and read the headlines. By the time he gets tried, and he will based on public pressure, he will be branded as the biggest traitor in the country’s history. Just watch.

3) The Islamists are hijacking the revolution

WRONG. The Islamists are getting weaker by the day. The Salafists, with their bushy beards, talk of bringing back the 7th century and violence against chirstians and women are already alienating and angering the supreme majority of the Egyptian public, to the point that they have angered the sufis- the hippies of Islam, who are 16 million in case you didn’t know- into rising up and standing against them, and they have gotten the Muslim Brotherhood to the point where they will tell anyone who listens that they are different than the Salafists, and that the Salafists are insane.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood, well, they are having their own problems. This organization who long has lived and survived underground is now being forced into the light, which isn’t exactly where they are most comfortable, because the cracks are now showing. At first they seemed drunk of the success of the referendum result and their belief that they are the best positioned group to take over power come the parliamentary elections, to the point that Essam ElAryan- thinking he is Safwat el Sherief now- started a laughably titled “historic initiative” of dialogue with the Church youth, as if they are representative of Egypt’s Muslims. But like any group that gets drunk on its own hype, it’s bound to start doing stupid shit and wake up the next day with the worst hangover ever, and it’s already starting. Internal divisions are ripping the MB apart, with the Youth announcing their defection and making their own group, with reformists such as AboulFoutouh publicly leaving them for being out of touch with the public, with the rising public hostility towards them since they can’t differentiate between them and the Salafists, and with them trying to appease the public by declaring their party platform will call for a “civil state” and will not have any conditions against women or copts running for President and thus in turn angering their own hardliners as well. The Muslim Brotherhood is at its weakest point and it’s being torn apart, and the egyptian people are quickly getting the point that they don’t want to live in a theocracy. Go to Upper-Egypt and talk to regular people, and they will tell you that they don’t want the Islamists taking over because they want the tourists to come back. Hell, did you know that in the University of Minya, during the first free Student Union elections, not a single islamist candidate won? In freakin Minya! So, please don’t think that your people are stupid or ignorant or easy to deceive by a bunch of Islamists. You are not the only one who “gets it”. Respect your people. They have earned it.

4) New Parties are the only way to save the next elections

WRONG! The new parties are important, but let’s face it, they are still organizing, being formed, formulating policies, trying to explain their ideological position, creating headquarters, reaching out to people and they are run and formed by cairene elites who think they are the only ones who can save the country and hold discussions in English about reaching out “those people” in the villages and the governorates, yet they have no clue who they are or how to talk to them. They are not the best way to save the next elections. The People are.
Unbeknownst to most of you, there is a new rising power in the Egyptian street and it’s not affiliated with any party of clique, and it’s called the people’s committees. At first they were formed to protect their areas, but during the referendum they started evolving into a civil force that help campaigns and did their best to monitor the elections. Now those committees are getting in contact with each other and forming coalitions. I have met representatives who have formed coalitions of 40 or 50 such committees all over Egypt, and they are organizing a conference for all of Egypt’s committee reps this June. Already, right now, there are 220 such committees covering 220 districts of Egypt’s 280, and that’s besides the independent unions and citizen groups that are getting formed everywhere every day. They are not waiting on us to save them or guide them, they already took matters into their own hands and we are the ones who are trying to catch up. And the way they operate, and their strategies for organization are impressive. A bunch of them asked for experts
on capitalist, socialist and Islamic economies to come to their neighborhoods and give lectures to educate people on their differences. This is happening while you are sitting in cafes discussing how you want to “spread awareness” to Egypt’s “ignorant population”. Well, if you want to do that, go to such meetings, find those people and ask them, humbly, how you can be of help and they will let you know. But you better not think you can deceive or bamboozle them in any way, because they will sniff you out very quickly. Go and get to know your people, and prepare to be floored by how intelligent and sophisticated they are.

5) Amr Moussa / Baradei is the new President

WRONG. The political Life cycle of any politician in Egypt is now 1 week, the same goes for Presidential candidates. The people don’t want someone who is as tainted as Moussa or as unable to communicate with them as Baradei. Chances are, Egypt’s real next president will appear sometimes by late august/ early September, after those two have been kicked and burned and faced a trial by fire unlike Egypt has ever seen. If one of them manages to survive it, then kudos to them, cause that means they have earned it. But this is far from being set by anyone, and any candidate who believes they have this in the bag already are also drunk on their own hype and are bound to wake up one day with the worst hangover ever wondering what the hell happened. Just watch!

6) International forces will destroy the revolution

WRONG. But not for lack of trying. God knows the Saudi government and Israel are both very worried about this revolution and will try anything- like funding salafis in the case of Saudi, or placing pressure on the US to support Amr Moussa in the case of Israel and both in order to ensure Egypt stays in the Sunni-Zionist alliance against Iran- in order to sustain a status-quo whose expiration date has long passed. Both of them don’t get that the rules of the game has changed, and that the virus of the revolution will infect their despondent and dissatisfied population as well. Hell, Egypt is so mad at Saudis for trying to pressure them into a conflict Sunni-Shia they have no interest in partaking in that we have now started reaching out to the Iranian government to resume diplomatic relations. Those are not the Mubarak days anymore; unless our sovereignty is respected, we can and will push back. Count on it.

And don’t think this is a victory for the Iran wing either, because Iran is also facing the prospects of their own revolution, and Syria is already dealing with its own, and the Palestinian people are already limning up to get rid of the corrupt leaders of both Hamas and Fatah. On March 15 there were huge protests by non-aligned Palestinian youth who are demanding the end of the division between the people and subsequently getting rid of those who have divided them in order to rule comfortably. The geopolitical map will look radically different in 2012. This virus will spread everywhere. Just watch!

7) There is doom and gloom everywhere!

WRONG! There is nothing but optimism and the prospect of a brighter future. Yes, there is economic instability and the economy will go down for a bit, but that’s only natural and part of the healing process. When you take an anti-biotic to cure you from a disease it is bound to keep you bed ridden and feeling tired for a few days so that you can properly heal, but you will heal and you will regain your full health eventually. We are completely unaware of what’s happening in the country because things are happening so fast that everything seems like it’s standing still. But the country is moving, the virus of the revolution spreading everywhere and changes are happening by the minute because 30 years worth of changes and reform are unleashed all at once. We are living in Hyper-time, and every person who sees a hole in the foundation of our country is working really hard and fast to plug it, and the future is looking brighter every day because of it.

Think of state TV employees who are protesting right now demanding that our national TV practices real journalism without an agenda. Think of the coalition of restaurant owners that is being formed in order to tell the municipalities that they won’t pay bribes anymore, and if they wish to shut them down they can go right ahead and face the wrath of all of their employees. Think of the students of the Lycee in Cairo, 6 and 7th graders, who did a 3 day sit-in protest demanding the return of a teacher that got fired for carrying an anti-Mubarak sign in Tahrir and forced the administration to re-instate him. Think of all the 8 and 10 year olds who went out with their parents the day of the referendum to vote and had the experience engrained in their psyche forever, something we never had ourselves, and know that they will never allow that right to be taken away from them. Think of all the 12 year olds who are watching all the hot issues (secularism vs. theocracy, left vs. right, the role of the army, the role of the police, etc..) being debated all around them right now, and having their political consciousness formed right now and know that when they turn 18 it will be next to impossible for someone to trick or co-opt them. Think of all the 15 and 16 year olds who are watching the protests all around them and the lessons and mistakes that we are doing and think of what those kids will do the moment they get into college in a couple of years or when they join the workforce. Think of all your friends, wherever they are, who are joining and debating and talking and wanting to help and do something, and know you are not a solitary phenomenon. The Virus is everywhere. The Future is AWESOME. We will not save Egypt, Egypt will save us.

Now go and think of how you can help. And when you encounter people whose stupidity or irrationality or ignorance frustrates you, smile, because you know in 6 or 7 years they will no longer exist nor be of any
influence.
Have a lovely day! :)

The election campaign Blueprint

The Topic: The Elections

We are on the verge of our first real Parliamentary and Presidential elections in our nation’s history, and we are very short on time, thanks to the schedule put there by the army. Usually preparations for such campaigns would take a year and a half, so the little time we have makes the job really difficult, but not impossible. In reality, the Presidential elections isn’t as big of a concern as our Parliamentary elections, since we know that whomever becomes President can be changed in 4 years, but whomever gets into Parliament this time around will get to write the constitution, which is here to stay. Speaking to people from eastern European countries who have gone through a very eerily similar transition to what we are going through (Communist instead of simply authoritarian, a Police force so corrupt that it continues to burn evidence against it at every chance it gets, a population used to stability over the chaos and responsibility of freedom, Slavic orthodox Christians instead of MB and Salafists, etc..) and who also wanted the transition phase to pass quickly, so they ended up with a Parliament that looked very similar to the one they had before democracy, since no one was really ready. In order to avoid such fate, we will need to fully understand the picture at hand, and work really hard to mitigate the damage of trying to do this under such limited and severe conditions. It will be a lot of hard work, and here is where we start.

The Analysis:

The current parliament is 444 seats, plus 10 seats that the new President, whomever he/she is, will get to appoint. However, those 10 will not be able to join in the committee that gets to draft that new constitution, so for the purposes of our math, they don’t count. Amongst those 444 seats, there will be at least 20% , approx 89 seats, who will be previously NDP, but not necessarily ideologically NDP; they will be the members whose families control the district that they live in and they are mostly located in the Delta and Upper Egypt. The reality is, the NDP didn’t have an ideology; it was a party of power and for power, and not all of its MP’s were cheaters or engaged in fraud. Sure, in the same supreme majority of the seats they had to commit voter fraud in order to ensure that their Party candidates win, but they were also in the habit of recruiting the Independent winners into the NDP either through coercion or enticement. This also means that those 20% are up for grabs for any party that is interested in some easy seats and is willing and able to recruit those candidates. So let’s ignore those 89 seats from our calculations and focus on the remaining and truly competitive 355 seats.

What we need to do in order to ensure that the MB doesn’t get to write the constitution is for whatever coalition of parties we create to represent us to win the magic number, which in this case is 223 seats (50% of 444 + 1 seats). Given that the MB is interested in winning 30% of the Parliament (133 seats), then whatever coalition we make will have to be competitive in all 355 races and make sure that the MB loses at least 1 seat in order to get 223 seats. Given that all elections are local, in order for the parties to do so, they will need good candidates, and more importantly, good campaigns. Sure, there will be voter fraud or vote buying to some extent, but this is to be expected and the more elections we have the cleaner the elections will get. So the campaigns should acknowledge that issue and try to mitigate it as much as possible, but should also operate as if it doesn’t exist. In more than one way, this is a test-run also for all the parties involved, and whatever mistakes they will make (and they will make many), it will only help perfect their political machine for all future elections. So, a good campaign is essential for all parties involved, and the most important thing in a campaign is the organization of it. If your campaign is organized, that’s 95% of the battle, and the remaining 5% will simply depend on the candidate’s likeability and ability to sell himself and his ideas.

What to do:

Any serious campaign for Parliament will require the following Positions to be filled, for they are the people that will create the organizational structure for the campaign:

  1. Campaign Manager: Most Important Person in the campaign. He manages the heads of the different departments in the campaign, and he sets the pace and the image of the candidate. If the Candidate loses, he is the person usually to blame. The Stories of perfectly good candidates who lost to bad candidates because they didn’t have a good campaign fills the books of political history, and a bad campaign manager (like the one Baradei currently has) will cost you the election every single time. That person must understand the political canvass, must understand politics of perception, must understand PR, must be capable of running a really tight ship and should never ever ever panic. He must be cool, collected and relentless, and must have a vision for the campaign even better than the candidate has for himself. He should never let the candidate run the campaign himself and simply execute his wishes; he must present the candidate with the full picture and options and consequences of every option. Politics is a game of lesser-evils, and any candidate must have a campaign manager who is capable and comfortable with picking ones. He is the most important person in the campaign, but there isn’t a second or third person after him/her. Everyone after that is equally important and essential.
  2. Research & Data Manager: More than anything, elections are about identifying the voters, polling the voters, identifying your voter segments and then counting the votes. Those are the duties of the Research and Data manager. Other duties include: Creating Focus groups, researching the issues and the solutions and seeing which resonate with the voters; researching the competition thoroughly and polling their support level as well; creating the electoral map for the campaign and knowing every voter by district, street, age group, socio-economic status, religious & political affiliations. Demographics, psychographics, purchasing behavior, level of education; you name it, they must have it. No campaign wins without the Research & Data Manager and his team.
  3. Communications Manager: This person is responsible for the image of the candidate and the campaign on all fronts: In the eyes of the voters, in mainstream media, in social media and on the street. This is why any communications manager must have an excellent team under him/her (preferably a her , very few men understand perception and image the way women do, at least in Egypt where in many times their lives depends on it), and that team must be big and have many different departments: The branding team (under which the entire creative department for print, posters, TV ads, radio ads, web ads, you name it), the PR team (hosting events, writing Press releases, arranging for articles to be written on their candidates in various newspapers), the Online reputation management team (this is where all those internet kids can start rumors to trash you, and you always must respond pleasantly, swiftly and decisively; like the Twitter CS teams of our local Mobile Operators), the media relations team, the media monitoring team, the Media-buying team, the Production team and the Rapid Response Team (those are your media commandos, they must be on top of everything in regards to the candidate to the second, and must memorize the positions of the candidate better than himself and be able to respond as fast as humanly possible to whatever issues or crisis that might arise for whatever reason). The candidates’ Spokesperson has to be the head of the Rapid Response team and it is preferred for him/her to be a different person than the communications manager , who in the case of a campaign turned nasty will also need a buffer from the media, just like the candidate.
  4. Scheduling Manager: Any campaign is about time- management, and that’s the scheduling manager’s job, for he will be responsible for the life of the candidate. This is the person that must schedule his appearances in the media and in the voting districts, alongside with fundraisers, public events, meetings with backers and stakeholders and , last but not least, the campaign management team itself. This may seem like a PR job, but it’s not, because it’s mostly about striking the balance between the operations and the Public aspects of the campaign. This is tough job, all about setting priorities and managing expectations, and therefore absolutely essential.
  5. Field Operations manager: This is the person responsible for voter outreach, organization and on-the-ground campaigning. This person’s work relies heavily, like the communications manager, on the research & data manager’s work , alongside with excellent organizational skills and ability to focus no matter how under pressure you are. This person will run the street teams (distributing & posting promotional material, door-to-door campaigning, creating the voter database, operating the phone banks, University outreach, election monitoring and all other logistical aspects of running the campaign. This person must be able to deal and manage young people (many of which never had a real job before) as well as old, which is not an easy skill to find in Egypt.
  6. Fundraising Manager: Welcome to Sales. This person’s job is to continuously sell the candidate to many people in order to raise Money to keep the campaign afloat. This person is responsible for identifying backers, working with the scheduling manager & communications manager to set-up fundraising events and send out fundraising communications. This is the person who will get you the money, while insuring that you don’t get beholden to all of your financial supporters (maybe 4 or 5, tops).
  7. Security Manager: This is the person who will handle your campaign’s security, whether physically or internally. He is responsible for protecting the candidate and the elections monitors come election day, and for ensuring that the campaign’s secrets, tactics and information doesn’t get leaked. He is the campaigns’ State Security, and in the current conditions we are in, he is absolutely essential.

How can I help:

As I said, I am not interested in the welfare of one political party as much as I am interested in all of them. I recognize that it would be impossible to expect one party to win all of those seats, so a coalition of parties is a must, and that can only happen if all the parties run good campaigns. I will remain objective, even if I am backing or working with someone else, because it’s in my best interest that any party other than the MB or the NDP to do well. I would be more than happy to sit down with any party or presidential campaign that will run a list of affiliated candidates and discuss their operational campaign strategy with them. If I can help in any way, drop me a line at sandmonkey@gmail.com .

As for the readers, I will be going to the meetings of any new political party that gets formed and will provide all of you with the over-view of their principles, position and operations, and an objective assessment of all of that, with their contact information if you are interested to join them or check them out for yourselves. I understand that we need as much information as possible and will bemore than happy to provide that for you here. What you do with this information will be up to you.

Next post: If you want to help, but not through joining a party or campaign, how to do it.

10 points

I have only an hour left before my flight, so this will have to be bullet point style, no verbose exposition. This is nothing but food for thought. Agree or disagree, up to you:

  • Egyptian Protesters seem to believe that we have the support of the entire world by what we did, and that we need to focus on local battles because the international scene will just have to adjust itself to whatever we do. This is incredibly naive given how big and important Egypt is geopoliticaly. They need to understand that there is no way the US, Israel, Saudi, Qatar, Russia, China or others will not try to influence the outcome and apply pressure on the Military government to rig the game slightly in their favor. America for example wants to ensure Israel’s safety, so they will pressure the army their way, Saudi and Israel need to ensure that the Sunni-Israeli alliance against Iran continues. God only knows what the Chinese and the Russians are thinking.
  • I believed Brussels was only good for waffles and chocolate, and I was surprised to find it the den of spies and lobbyists. The EU headquarters is here, so is NATO and 20 % of the workforce works in lobbying one way or another. This also affects us, because many of the local players are lobbying here: For example, The Mubarak’s are lobbying here for their own purposes, and  Ahmed Ezz’s family is lobbying to ensure he gets “a fair trial” , because he knows in a “fair trial” he can drag many names in the mud with him, and have them tried as well. Especially Mubarak. That’s his card, because he knows no one wants Mubarak to be put on trial. This is why I have been working on creating a lobby for the revolution, because the foreign front is the only front we are not paying attention to at all, and its the one we need the most right now.
  • The reason why no one wants Mubarak put on trial is simple: You don’t get to be the leader of a country like Egypt for  freaking 30 years without knowing where many bodies are buried. Some of those bodies might prove to be embarrassing to many world powers & could set a dangerous precedent that may fuel more revolutions. This is why there are no international calls to try Mubarak. Everybody just wants him to shut up, and they know he probably has a safe somewhere to be opened when he dies in suspicious conditions that contains many secrets. Again, no one wants those documents out in the open. That doesn’t mean the Egyptian military doesn’t pressure Mubarak in its own way though. The same way for the 3 stooges (Sherif, Surour, and Azmy), who are also cards in the hand of the military to play if needs be and will be offered to the public when the time comes.
  • There has been A lot of talk regarding the release of Abood el Zomor and the Media attention he got. Many people in the egyptian and international so-easy-to-frighten population took it as a sign that the Islamists are taking over and we might have another Iran on our hands. While this might have been the international message the military council intended to send to the international world to ease the pressures on them a bit , this wasn;t supposed to be the message sent for local consumption. The local consumption message was simple: Abood ElZomor was arrested in Sadat’s assassination, the same assassination that resulted in Mubarak’s take over of the presidency, the same assassination that many say Mubarak had a hand in. This coincided with a video circulating the web showing Mubarak throwing chairs on a shot Sadat “to protect him” while Sadat is trying to get up. Even Zomor during his interview regarding the Sadat assassination said that some people involved in the assassination slept in prison, and others in the presidential palace. This was a message to Mubarak: We won’t touch you for now, but don’t think we don’t also have you by the balls. And how Ironic that the Man responsible for the death of one President is becoming the weapon against the President that followed him.
  • The Salafists & MB are local players, but they have foreign ties and funding. Qatar fully funds and supports the MB , and Saudi fully funds and directs the Salafists. While Qatar is more interested in having a say in a democratic Egypt, Saudi is more interested in blackmailing Egypt into continuing the Sunni-Zionist alliance against Iran. Naturally, Egypt, right now, is totally not interested, so Saudi tries to pressure us by inciting lots of Salafi Chaos and violence. Please note that it’s all very targeted against so called egyptian minorities, attacking christians and women mostly, and burning churches. That’s the kind of headache Saudi knows Egypt doesn’t need, & will stop immediately the moment they are sure that the alliance is back on track, because they are shitting their Saudi pants over Iran. Please note that in this scenario, whatever we want as Egyptians, totally doesn’t matter to them, or anyone for that matter.
  • Amr Moussa is the preferred candidate for President for all of the international players: A man from the system, has no achievements either as Foreign Minister or Secretary of Arab League, friendly to dictators and foreign powers, and who barks a lot for public consumption regarding the US and Israel, but always always always does their bidding. The Americans and the Israelis are rooting for him most of all, because they know his MO, and they can’t guarantee how either Baradei or Bastaweesy will play it. Many Egyptian elites want him as well for the same reason they supported the Ahmed Shafiq government: He is someone they know..someone from the system, a good ole boy from the same corrupt system that we revolted against and who until the last minute wanted to save Mubarak’s presidency and now stands firm on not putting Mubarak on trial as well. While many good natured and well-intentioned Egyptians support him because he seems prestigious and his name was always on the table, they must fully understand that he represents everything this revolution was not about : The End of Mubarak Regime, The End of the corrupt system that it created, the end of a foreign policy dictated by everybody else but the Egyptian people, The End of politicians who are in it for their own glory and not for the service of the egyptian people (check the record on how embassies treated Egyptians during the time he was Foreign Minister and see how big he was on serving egyptian people or maintaining their dignity). Mind you, whomever the US supports will usually win, so please, if you are into winning for the sake of winning, or even if you have familial or business ties to him or his family, then jump on the Moussa bandwagon. But if you really care about this country & really would like a strong independent Egypt, not one like we had for 30 years, well , do some research into his history. You won’t find many things that you could defend him with.
  • Baradei & Bastaweesy are the two honest candidates in the field right now, which is why they are losing badly. Baradei’s campaign’s inability to engage the population or respond to rapidly changing events is continuing to enforce the image that he is elitist and disconnected from the population. For example, the MB yesterday endorsed Baradei in an attempt to corner him internationally (how does Muslim Brotherhood backed candidate for President sound to all of you in the west, people?), a move that he could’ve easily used to his advantage by going on TV and saying that he welcomes the MB’s endorsement for his campaign for a civil secular Egypt and that he hopes this ends all the lies about his daughter being married to an Infidel (Which isn;t true, but is used against him by the salafists) or that he is America’s agent, because there is no way the MB would endorse him in that case. Had he done that, he would’ve pushed back the MB in a corner and immediately placed a wedge between the MB and the Salafists, while asserting his commitment, locally and internationally, for a secular egyptian state. He, of course, maintained his silence, cause he is above it all, or his campaign people are rank amateurs. Bastawaeesy still has no campaign to speak of, and god knows if he will be able to compete in the first place, but he is incredibly popular on the street. If those two get their act together and join forces, they would make an unstoppable ticket, and we would have a real ELECTION on our hand, instead of the SELECTION by other countries we are going through right now.
  • One thing to e sure of, the next election in Egypt will be incredibly fun, due to the fact that many US election campaign operatives are now offering their services to the highest bidder, and the egyptian election is a very sexy and important election for them. I even heard some were hired, but by whom? No clue. But if you can deduce who has money in Egypt right now and who they support, well, then you have your answer. Hint: The revolution backed candidates have no money to buy those guys. This will get interesting very quickly.
  • I am currently for the revolution to stop protesting, because after the referendum, we are now facing a new political reality: The roof of street legitimacy just got raised. Public Opinion went 14 million for a YES vote and 4 million for a no vote, which means that in order to show we represent the majority we need 14 million to join us, which we won’t be able to produce. Hell, if we manage to produce 1 million protesters, people can dismiss us claiming we were only able to turn out 1/4 of our base. It’s not that impressive anymore, and going every friday to Tahrir means we have totally or about to burn that card. But if some feel the need to still protest, that’s fine, but let’s do it right. We need to stop the notion that we all need to be together in every fight, because every day we have 3 fronts being opened against us, and we are getting exhausted and disoriented. Fine, let’s do what we did in Tahrir: Share the work. Let’s Organize fronts: One for protests, one for prisoners rights, one for advocacy and outreach, One for voter registration and organization, one for communications, one for campaigning, etc etc, and lets agree on guiding principles and then let each front work autonomously and only coordinate with each other when needs be. For example: let’s use the protests to have people from the registration front show up and register those who show up for the protest so we can reach them afterwards. Let’s play it smart.
  • Please note that this is a war, and in wars its ok to lose Battles willingly to win in the end. A good parable is the Coventry Blitz myth, and it goes like this: During WW2, the brits had the Enigma machine, which they sued to decipher the messages of the germans. One day a message showed up alerting them to a massive raid on Coventry, which had a population of 320,000. This Presented Churchil with the dilemma: Does he evacuate Coventry, save the lives of the 320,000 and alert the Germans that he has the machine by knowing about the attack before hand, or does he allow Coventry to be attacked, safeguard the secret of the machine, be able to decipher the German messages in the future and thus win the war? Well, Churchil didn’t evacuate Coventry, which got attacked indeed, and he ended up winning the war. The lesson here should be clear: The battle for protesting is not the war, having a democratic egypt is. It’s ok if we lose that battle, if it means we get to win the war. What we need to do is withdraw ourselves from the scene, stop being everyone’s favorite blame hanger and work on the ground. Reach out to every governrate, go to every city, village and house, Zenga Zenga Dar Dar style. Also, our absence will force those blaming us (The MB, the government, the Army, the NDP crowd, the Couch Party) to look for someone else to blame, and will start attacking each other. Good. Let them fight each other while we work to win this on the ground, out of sight and under the radar.

That is all!

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