Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Bassem Youssef Hypocrisy

There is a lot of hypocrisy about the Bassem Youssef show. The amount of double standards highlighted by the show is worrying. The thing is that the hypocrisy is not coming from within the show, but from outside it.

I must confess I was worried about Bassem Youssef. I was afraid he would sell out and act against values he had previously claimed to hold. Why shouldn't I have expected that? Most others did the same. The nationalist tendencies have lead many figures calling for democratic values and change to relinquish such values in favor of a flavor of nationalistic fascism.

Bassem Youssef proved me wrong and pushed the envelope of criticism as much as the street should be able to handle without going over the top with needless criticisms. It was only when I started to breathe hope again that I realized I was holding my breath.

What is truly shocking are his fans. They were happy when he criticized their opponents but were not happy when he criticized them. They cannot see themselves as being just as bad as those they claim to oppose. If you ask what they found offensive, they will point out exactly what their Islamist counterparts have been pointing out. Bassem Youssef's show had  too many sexual innuendos... He criticized a respectable figure like the Minister of Defense (he didn't) .. He mocked national sentiments.. etc..

The list goes on and on but without any valid criticism related to what he actually said. All he said was that he was against any fascism, Islamist or not. Why did they get upset? Is it because they know they're fascists?

It's not just hypocrisy we're witnessing, it's a sense of fascism. That it's okay to put Bassem Youssef behind bars now because he upset the wrong people and yet criticize Morsi for trying to do the same. In a way Bassem Youssef has done what no one else has managed to do, brought together the pro Sisi and pro Morsi fanatics in hating him.

In a way, we find ourselves with Bassem fighting the same old forces we were fighting from the start. The old interest networks of the feloul and army along with their Islamist allies. Even though they're not allies anymore we still have to take both of them on again.

Every day that passes, Bassem exposes hypocrites and fascists. I'm not deifying Bassem, I'm not saying that everything he does is correct and that he's on to the truth, I'm saying that his critics expose themselves through what they choose to criticize.  His show is like a mirror that some of the ugliness cannot bear to look into. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Why Ikhwan Protests Won’t Work

The building guard explained to me how one of the protesters pointed a gun at him and shot at the building. The building’s glass door had been shattered with rocks. I didn’t believe the guard when he told me they had shot at them, but he told me that the holes the bullets left were still there. I asked him to show me, and he did.

Alleged bullet hole

On 6 October 2013, I saw a small part of the clashes between residents of the Dokki area and pro MB protesters. There was a lot of anger, but that anger was not just directed at security forces, it was directed at the entire country, with all that it entails. The Muslim Brotherhood supporters were angry at streets. They destroyed the advertisements and statues in their anger. They pelted rocks at residents of the area and they destroyed private property. 

There are many reasons why the Muslim Brotherhood won’t win back the people and they sprouts from one cause. They care little for anything beyond their own group. Their ultimate goal is not to establish a democratic form of rule but to restore their own flavor of oppression. They accept that people will be oppressed anyway, so why not through the autocratic decisions of the General Guide? 

The other point they’ve managed to emphasize is that they do not respect citizens. They have opened fire on Egyptians in their neighborhoods and needlessly destroyed their property. 

In a famous tale about Solomon, two women were arguing over whose son a new born baby was. In order to settle the dispute, Solomon asked the baby be cut in half and each half be given to the women. One woman agreed and the other would not allow her baby to die. The MB are acting like the woman who wanted to cut the baby in half. 

The MB’s strategies and ideas have all been targeting the economy. However, people will not choose to go back to their oppressive rule through coercion. They continue to represent oppression. Apart from incitement against Christians and opening fire at citizens, their peaceful ideas were along the lines of on riding the metro all day to cause congestion and stalling their cars on the road.

That’s not to say that supporting the army irrespective of how they act is the support of democracy. You can be against the military takeover and not be a Brotherhood supporter, but in this case you would never use the Rabaa symbol.

The new faces of the regime understand that there's been a shift in public behavior, they'll try to account for that in their decisions. The true danger now is that the military players are better at shifting public position rather than what they’ve done in the past which is disregard it.

The MB are paying the price for supporting the military ever since 2011. To some it looked as if they were placating the military in order to oppose them, but they were placating the revolutionaries to quell revolutionary fervor. The single most damaging move against the revolution was siding with SCAF and MB were the stars of that movement. They never represented the revolution. SCAF would have conceded many things if they found no political cover, but Islamists were happy to give them that.

In 2013 the military intervened on behalf of itself not the people. Their other option was siding with tyrannical MB, which would have been a losing gamble since the street had turned against the MB enough to compromise security control over Egypt had they sided with them.

In the revolutionary camp, many had warned the MB numerous times that SCAF would turn on them, but they thought they knew better. They always thought they knew better. MB were strongly persuaded to side with people not the men with guns, but they chose to make their pacts with the institutions that had all the guns. (That same warning applies to figures cozy with the military)

Today, after they were removed from power, the MB’s obstinacy continues to push a narrative that is implausible and unacceptable is hardening people's hearts against them. MB supporters seem to have strict instructions: It's about the coup, it's not about our crimes...keep pushing that rhetoric.

The nail in their coffin however can well be the revolutionary forces that they’ve come to alienate, not only during their rule but the ones that have sided with their rights as humans following Morsi’s removal. There are many who have been openly critical of the police for the brutal dispersal of Rabaa. They are met with an onslaught of attacks for not siding enough with the Muslim Brotherhood. One such example is Khaled Dawoud, the spokesman of the National Salvation Front (NSF) who was later stabbed by ‘anti-coup’ protesters. 

All the Brotherhood had to do is offer the one thing that can possibly placate these forces, the truth in the form of an honest apology. Yet the Muslim Brotherhood stubbornly clings to illogical arguments and evasions. 

The targeting of those siding with MB’s rights as not being enough is alienating and through continuous obstinacy the MB is ridding itself from shackles of empathy or sympathy that may have played out in their favor on the long run.

In the end, Egypt doesn’t win. The continued stand-off between two oppressive forces may weaken real civil opposition. According to Farag Fouda, in the absence of that, the Islamists and the military will continue to toy with Egyptians till that changes. 

The answer does not lie in a brutal crackdown. Cracking down on MB while welcomed by the masses, is not a sign that the regime has changed to the better.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Remembering the Maspero Massacre: The Sectarian State Lives On

Mina Daniel's Autopsy report: "Projectile entered the upper chest and exited from the lower back"

Maspero is on my mind. Yet I find no words to express my feelings. It's no longer sadness, defeat or anger. It's something hallow. I've already collected most of what there is to see, written about how horrible it was, and remembered it last year with a post that aims to look deeper into it. This year, I feel less competent to express anything of value, but I write because I feel I must express what little there is to express.

There is something deeply saddening about the memory this time around. Perhaps it's because people are cheering on an army that crushed protesters mercilessly just because they were Copts and shall not retaliate. Perhaps it's because people are cheering on the unreformed regime that incited against a large section of society through it's state owned media without any real provocation. Perhaps it's because people believe that the regime has been reformed magically without a single serious step to lead them to believe so.

Maybe it's all of these things and more, but to me I'm saddened that where we are now leaves more to be desired. There is a sad and flawed assumption that it is only the MB and Salafis that are sectarian and the corollary of that, is that when they've been removed, all the sectarianism has disappeared. 

This is still a sectarian state, with its army and intelligence still considering anyone Shiite, Christian, Nubian, Baha'i or from Sinai a potential traitor. There is still a sectarian state that will not protect Copts, or other minorities, nor bring the perpetrators to justice. There's still a sectarian state that does not care for citizens and classifies their worth based on their origins or social status. There's still a state we marched against and tied our ropes around its neck in attempts to bring it down.There's still a state with all its flaws, but a people that are willing to turn a blind eye to its flawed structure yet again.

I doubt there's anything words can express about this matter that does the heart justice. It's perhaps well and good that it was decided that it would be a silent protest opposite Maspero. Our voices were mostly inaudible anyway.