Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Enemy is Injustice - A Résumé of Limited Revolutionary Credentials

Like all Egyptians I was disenchanted by both opposition and ruler. I never queued up to vote and never joined a party. I was nothing more than an Egyptian, degraded as that may be. I have no tolerance for extremism and that is why I am appalled by the continued efforts of a patriarchal society to subdue women. I did not think that Human Rights were an absolute truth but a general formula for a minimum standard from which we can work up.
The revolution happened, and even though I took to the streets on January 25, I never reached Tahrir that day. It was only a beginning not just for the revolution but for me as well.
Everything in my life seems ill-timed. I finished the last of my high school exams before reaching 14 and did not fully discover my true passion for poetry and literature till I turned 16. I graduated as an engineer at age 20, but found my calling in writing at age 25. I understood people and life since I was 16 but could not fully fathom the true nature of politics till I was 30. I’m grown up in parts and stifled in others. I understand some things, and I’m ignorant of others.
Why all these confessions? I’m not sure, but it feels that this is a time of great misunderstanding and my confessions may avert confusions.
I’ve long despised the army, not because of my intimate knowledge of its economic empire which I had known nothing about, but because of the culture of slavery which I thought was too demeaning. To serve in a place that humiliates you and to serve another man as master is far too degrading. Luckily I did not have to serve. And so when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took over, I was hesitant  about whether to trust the army. I waited for an answer from those more learned than me, but did not stumble across Robert Springborg’s “Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost” during the revolution nor Ellis Goldberg’s “Mubarakism without Mubarak”. So I waited in vain while no answers were given. But as I waited I reasoned for myself what it was clear to see, that the army was not to be trusted. It took me 12 days from February 12 to February 24 to be struck with the epiphany of what the army was really after. I wrote it down on a word file and then published it to Facebook and then later my blog.
Ever since then, my own reasoning has superseded all other voices. I read a lot of what others have to say but I’ve become slow to believe a voice that does not echo my own. I’ve learned to read news though I’ve never been interested in it, but somehow what was happening around me became integral to my life and to my future and, at some points, integral to my sanity. I opposed SCAF vehemently and received a lot of criticism from very close friends, but I wasn’t parroting, I had my reasoning and facts. As time proved me right, many of those friends sent me apologies and those who did not, agreed in their own way. The more time passed, the more my own assumptions and reasoning made sense.
I learned more about what I did not know: politics and history. I found my own understanding of people and life useful so I combined my study and my acquired skill. It seemed to me that I was getting things right on my own, without the voices that people usually listened to. During the revolution all idols were broken anyway and the limited imagination of those who controlled us became more and more apparent. I found voices that knew more than I did and reasoned better. I was humbled and became attentive to these voices but never lost confidence in my own.
I used my reasoning and more importantly my values to determine my position. I objected to the military trials of civilians, and found it surprising how Islamists were forgiving and used twisted logic to justify injustices. I voted no during the first referendum and yet saw some of those around argue for stability and production wheels. I refuse a stability built on injustice.
Many had accepted injustice either in fear of things to come or in hopes of things to come. I rejected both paths.  I found myself alone, with a select few who were too little and too despised to challenge public sentiments at least for some time. Yet we kept calling, even if we knew we were calling in the dark because right was right.
It didn’t matter who was in uniform, it didn’t matter who was at the podium, it didn’t matter who was with a beard, I rejected what I thought was unjust. Even when Pope Shenouda thanked our killers, the criminal SCAF, I objected in public and made my stance known. I cared only for what’s right.
The Islamists came, and their first order of business was to suppress us. They did that in so many ways. They thanked our killers, empowered them and promised them safe exit. They abandoned us, condemned us and lied to us. I saw no reason not to be vocal. As I condemned the liars and stood up to their injustice, criticisms against me grew. Once again, like I was very early on with SCAF, I was too loud, too vocal, too uncompromising. I was never trained at this, I know no other way. I see a truth and attempt to express it.  I spoke against the military, the pope and the Islamists.  I’m not afraid of speaking the truth, yet my sincerity and credibility are usually in question. I was accused before of being an Islamist, and I was accused as well of being felool. All of this means very little to me, I chose to speak my truth.
I speak against the Islamists now not because of their religion, but because of their beliefs. That the ends justify the means, that they can use the name of their religion to garner political gains, that they can lie in order to justify the deaths and pain.
The Islamists want the poor to remain poor so that they can control them through charity. That is what I object to, not their religion. The Islamists want to suppress our freedoms so that they can better control our contributions to their empire, that is what I object to, not their religion. The Islamists cut themselves a deal with the military that killed us and took our freedoms, that is what I object to, not their religion. The Islamists exchanged our justice for their power, kept our killers safe, and promised them to be able to detain us, torture us, beat us, kill us. For what? For thirty pieces of silver? That is what I object to not their religion.
But now, their intentions are clear. It’s out in the open and there is no need for me to scream. Everyone knows now what I said then, and it doesn’t seem so ridiculous. The truth is enough to expose what they are without any lies. I know I’ve never tried to spread any. I’ve tried to correct whatever false information I may have contributed to.  Everyone knows what I know, and yet now even as I speak, some think of me as a Copt.
I have never been a Copt, never politically. I have only been truthful. I have stood against what I thought was unjust, in whatever form it takes. I have stood by the truth, whatever it may be. I have sided with Copts when they were discriminated against. I have sided with the Islamists when they were violently attacked in Abbaseya.
The December referendum was about Islamists versus Egypt, not about a constitution. It was about the domination of Egyptians rather than their dominance. The lack of protection of freedoms and rights, the cementing of military rule within the constitution along with attempting to destroy the independence of trade unions or institutions was something destructive enough to stand against.
My duty is to myself, not to a religious leader, not to a party, faction, or idea that collides with reality. My one bias is to the truth. I have been careful about that. I may use my personal judgement, experience and logic along the way, but my conclusions results from my analysis, I never start with dogmatic conclusions.
I have seen what power does, and I know what those seeking power want.  My real enemy was never Mubarak, my enemy was never SCAF, my enemy was never the Islamist.  My enemy is injustice.
First published in EgyptSource, Atlantic Council on January 16, 2013.

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