When Egyptians rose in unison and ousted Hosni Mubarak, the rest of the world welcomed their move believing that it was a step to end years of dictatorship and usher in democracy. Today the word Egypt is tantamount to riot and civil disobedience with reference to the number of deaths, arrests, detentions, destruction and killing that have occurred ever since Mubarak backed down.
Therefore, the questions everyone is asking now, is whether the revolution was actually necessary in the first place. That is, if the situations of Egyptians are better now as compared to the era of Mubarak? Another question, is whether rioting has become the best bait to demand, challenge or refuse any policy put up by the ruling government? Do people who are drumming for change or democracy attack the very forces of law and order that are trained to provide them security? The questions are many, but the answers can only come from Egyptians themselves.
It’s needless to say, as an African and lobbyist for peace and dialogue, I am ashamed of what is going on in Egypt. A beautiful country blessed with some of the world’s rare heritage and history, and the birthplace of civilization is today a burning hell – in peril. Sometimes I feel like I should shrink when another atrocity about Egypt is on the news. In other situations I believe I should actually hide my head in a dome of sand like an ostrich even though I know that the rest of my body, my disgrace, is still visible to the outside world.
Egyptians have been under lock and key for donkeys years under the Mubarak’s regime and could barely express themselves or challenge the authorities in power. For fear of arrest, torture, detention and even kidnapping and killing, nobody could venture to speak, write or protest. And when the revolution or what is better coined as the “Arab spring” started in neighbouring Tunisia it was obviously a green light for them to join in the dance of freedom and liberation from tyranny.
Mubarak who is currently serving a life sentence, left since two years ago after pressure from continuous street demonstrations. Egyptians gained all the freedom of expression and free speech among others. However, it looks like giving freedom to a person who does not know how to use that freedom is just a disaster. Instead of using the new-found freedom to debate and discuss ways to forget of the past and push Egypt ahead as a true democracy and reap the benefits that comes with democratic system, they are instead using the freedom to destroy even the meagre wellbeing they acquired and enjoyed under Mubarak. Freedom of expression, movement and right to form or join association, is now interpreted to mean freedom to jump into the streets, set fire, destroy infrastructure and attack opponents even if there is no motive behind it at all.
It’s time to stop, think and act properly. Nobody has ever solved a problem by creating another problem, commonsensical; two wrongs do not make a right. You can’t dig ground from one hole to fill another hole. And if that is not sensible enough you can’t burn soil because you don’t want it or you don’t have a place to dump it. Think people! Egyptians do have so many pleas which they want the government of President Mohammed Morsi to address. However, there is no way, the government can please everyone. In other words, the government cannot make every sad heart glad. But that doesn’t mean the problems or requests have been put under the carpet and forgotten, but are rather under scrutiny. In a democracy, good governance is paramount, meaning everything must be accounted for and in the process of check and balance or bureaucracy, time is needed. It takes patience for a cat to catch a mouse.
Mathew Flinders in his book: Defending Politics (2012) reminds us that democratic politics is messy, cumbersome, and at times frustrating. And that this is because life and the world are themselves generally messy, cumbersome, and at times frustrating.
“There are no simple solutions to the challenges we face but there is great reason to cherish and celebrate out democratic achievements and democratic potential,” Finders writes.
When Esraa Abdel Fattah, an Egyptian female activist used the power of social media and created a Facebook group in March 2008 to sympathize with striking textile worker in Mahalla al-Kobra, she never thought of self-destruction, killing and the disobedience of laws in Egypt. Her idea was to help free every Egyptian and set a platform for change and freedom. People; do not let her down with aimless and fruitless strikes and protests. It’s easy now to destroy infrastructure and criticize the Muslim Brotherhood in power, but it’s going to take us ages to build Egypt again, even if President Morsi is to quit tomorrow. I think it’s better to have loved and lost it than never to have loved at all.