Conspiracy theories, speculations and uncertainty have overtaken the imagination in Egypt. In our current context, our political imaginary resembles a septic pool of disillusionment, antagonism, and criticism. After the January 25, 2011, Egyptians were ready to embrace any regime that would offer them a semblance of change, and help the citizens reclaim a sense of dignity that they were denied for over three decades. When the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ascended to power, many were skeptic, but many revolutionaries had voted for its candidate, now president, Mohamed Morsi, welcoming the promise of change and hoping that their cries for “bread, freedom, and social justice” would be heard.
Alas, two years onward, and life in Egypt is in complete disarray—politically, economically and socially. Morsi is accused of furthering the plans of the MB to the detriment of the country, and people are becoming increasingly enraged. And the new ruling regime is not even original, since they started using the same tactics perpetuated by their predecessors: fear mongering, oppression, and intolerance, while also adding sexual terrorism and hereticization to the list. Morsi is being criticized for trying to establish a fascist religious state, and he is cracking down on young activists, the media, and the opposition, but voices of dissent have not waned. On the contrary, with no holds barred, no president (democratically elected or not) has ever been this criticized, ridiculed and put to shame.
Morsi created a schism in society between the Ikhwan (the MB) and the people. Many are now aware that the Islam the MB embraces is a religion that has been corrupted by political greed and has strayed from the values Egyptians hold dear and wanted to uphold. We expected them to implement their organizations skills, to rid the country of its ubiquitous corruption, and to restore a semblance of order. Sadly, Morsi is merely a figure, if not a puppet, for their political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, and he is working on establishing a dominion in the political sphere, according to the MB’s ulterior motives, which connote establishing their own nation (what that entails precisely is a point of debate, but it doesn’t include improving the Egyptian nation!). By shaping the government solely around MB figures, he is progressively alienating even his biggest political ally, the Nour Party (the official party of the religious group the Salafis), as he excluded its members from his new government and did not concede to many of their demands. On the other hand, after forcibly removing the public defender and appointing his own (currently nicknamed the private defender),—instead of choosing from the ones nominated by the supreme judges—the judiciary system, which the MB have not yet totally infiltrated, has proved that it will not withstand Morsi’s blatant disregard for the rule of law. Therefore, the judges are continuously undermining the public defender’s decisions. Revolutionary protestors are constantly demonstrating in front of the MB headquarters, using graffiti to express their discontent. Overall, the MB is losing its popularity, and the president his legitimacy, especially as his speeches, mostly unintelligible and comically threatening, are filled with historical inaccuracies and he mistakenly quotes our famous poets!
In parallel, the media, which have become outrageously outspoken, are under attack. The Media Production City was under siege by MB partisans who were crying out for blood. Media figures are being arrested left and right for religious defamation and insulting the president. However, Egyptian media are now embracing a freedom of speech previously unimaginable and have no intention of being silenced, even under death threats.
The most alarming repercussion is the lack of security, as thugs and thieves are running havoc with the population. This in turn led to a rise in vigilantism, since the police are failing to restore order. They blatantly refuse to help citizens with their safety concerns, and the president advocated citizens’ arrests. Egyptians are wondering where the Ministry of Interior is, as police presence is minimal and appears to side with the MB, protecting them against (peaceful) protestors, while disregarding national security. People rose against the police in January 2011, which was one of the main catalysts in the revolution, and now, we remain distrustful of them.
Meanwhile, the country is economically suffering. Companies are downsizing, if not closing shop, unemployment is on the rise, foreign investment has obviously declined, and the central bank’s reserve is running extremely. There is a crisis in fuel and diesel, as the country has been unable to import the resources needed to keep the wheel turning. Power blackouts have become a daily occurrence.
The most disheartening effect is the drop in tourism. When I arrived in Cairo in mid-March, the airport was so empty, I felt I landed in a ghost town. The industry hires around 17 million people and is our most substantial income. Nowadays, the sighting of a tourist is as rare as that of a unicorn!
While the country’s future is more than ambiguous, people are asking where the army stands, and are waiting for military action. The army however, will not take action, as long as the US supports the MB government, for fear of being shunned by the international community, and by the local people. In my opinion, it’s waiting for a massacre to mobilize popular (and international) consent. Moreover, the opposition is not strong enough or organized enough to overtake the monumental task of ruling Egypt. More time is needed to mobilize public support and form a substantial party with enough political weight. That is the chief problem with a populist revolution with no leader, which the January 25, 2011 revolution is.
What this period has demonstrated is that the MB is incapable of acting like a ruling party. Accustomed to being the oppressed opposition party, its members incite violence and thrive on antagonizing instead of appeasing the masses, calling the demonstrations against them the “anti-revolution.” On the long run, Egyptians will no longer harbor any illusion about the MB, and its ghost, kept in the closet for over 80 years, will finally be killed. In other words, Egypt is undergoing a long overdue exorcism of its religious party. Because the latter has become the oppressor and people will no longer stand idle and watch their freedom slip away. Egyptians have learned one thing since the revolution: to speak up against authority, no matter the cost.
Meanwhile, life on the street continues: children go to school, adults go to work, and people go out. Everyone is politically depressed. We wonder whatever happened to the revolution, but in a land where the law is the survival of the fittest, we will wait to see who outlasts who. We are waiting.