The rewriting of Egypt’s recent events
The rewriting of recent events is about to begin.
A rewriting where Egyptian President Mursi was forced to put the
November decree into effect to ‘save’ democracy — and that opposition
to his decree were brainwashed into thinking it was unethical for any
president to have no checks or balances. Never mind that President Mursi
could have easily worked with the opposition to carry out revolutionary
measures, as opposed to simply forcing through a constitution in a few
A rewriting where the opposition
are accused of being guilty of thuggery, and are paid agents to engage
in violence and destruction around the country. But without any mention
of the fact that it was supporters of the president that descended upon a
peaceful protest in front of the presidential palace, causing a
conflict that left eight dead. Even in death, the narrative is being
rewritten: now, all dead are supporters of the president, and none are
opposition. As though it mattered, but it is not even true.
A rewriting where the opposition are all guilty of the outrageous Tweet
by Alaa al-Aswany, the Egyptian novelist, who insisted illiterate
Egyptians (some 30-40 percent of the country) should not have the right
to vote in the referendum. Forget, of course, that he received immediate
and harsh criticism from supporters of the opposition.
A rewriting where al-Baradei, the former Nobel laureate, is attacked for
having a discourse that invites foreign intervention: but where
supporters of the presidency are not brought to task for describing this
crisis between Egyptians as being one where Islam itself is under
threat. Where again, even in death, polarization is obvious: where the
dead of the supporters of the president are in paradise, and the dead of
the opposition are in hell.
Those will be the propaganda books, at least those published by supporters of the president. There will be other books.
However, those other books will declare that the opposition forces put
up an incredible fight against the presidency. They will declare that
the opposition united into the National Salvation Front, and stood their
Those other books won’t point out, for example, that this‘united front’
was split, and while it included the likes of Hamdeen Sabahy and
Mohammed el-Baradei, it didn’t include Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh.
Those other books won’t point out that when President Mursi called for a
national dialogue, the key figures from the opposition lost a
tremendous opportunity to show to the Egyptian people that they wanted
to bring an end to this. Yes, the government accused them of being paid
saboteurs –that’s even more of a reason to go to the negotiating table,
if for no other reason than to show it wasn’t a real process.
Those other books will not mention that as a response to President
Mursi’s decree that insisted on the referendum going forward on Dec. 15,
the opposition could not even come to a united and prompt decision.
Rather, for days, they gave mixed signals about whether or not they
would boycott (not exactly a proven tool of effective politics in Egypt)
or push for a “no” vote. That is hardly the decisive leadership that
any political force needs, especially in a time of crisis.
Those other books will not mention that when the discourse on the
streets of Egypt from the opposition intensified, resulting in burnings
and attacks on the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom
& Justice Party, the opposition couldn’t stop it. It wasn’t from
lack of trying: but it was clearly evidence of a lack of a leadership
and ability to provide direction.
Then, there will be other books still, different from both sets of
propaganda above. There will be those books that talk about the fact
that there were indeed ‘remnants’ of Mubarak’s regime at work in Egypt,
and that both the MB and much of the anti-MB opposition opted to work
with different remnants to battle the other. There will be those books
that note that President Mursi, the first elected president of Egypt,
could have, and should have, worked with those elements within the
opposition (and there were many) that would have worked with him for the
sake of Egypt. There will be those books that will note that this
constitution, regardless of its content, was supposed to bring people
together. But through this process, instead, just brought them apart.
In those books, there will be stories of the men and women, young and
old, rich and poor, who refused to be drawn into adding to the
polarization – and who insisted on bringing Egyptians together, against
all odds. Despite reports to the contrary, their story is not over.
Their story continues, and their struggle for a fairer and freer Egypt
In the end, it is they who will be remembered. In the history books,
rather than the propaganda books, it is they who will be remembered: as
the Egyptian revolutionaries of the Jan. 25 revolution. And that
revolution is not yet over.
Dr. H.A. Hellyer, non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution and
ISPU, previously held senior posts at Gallup and Warwick University.
Follow him on Twitter @hahellyer.
This article was published by Al Arabiya on December 11, 2012. Read it here.