Egyptians have gone to the polls, yet again—this time to elect the president of Egypt. It’s been a long 18 months, with Egypt on the cusp of anarchy and with Egyptians facing anguish, bloodshed, and chaos, but Egypt is almost there—at the end of the struggle. Or is it? Will the incoming president bring peace and stability, or will he cause another round of violence and disarray?
Only a few days back and precisely on the eve of the presidential elections, the court ordered that the Islamic-majority parliament be dissolved reverting its power to the army council. It decided that a third of the MPs elected were elected illegally.
I’m dubious about the process, the timing, and the legality of the whole matter; furthermore, it is not clear whom the incoming president will swear allegiance to on June 22: the Supreme Council of Armed Forces and Field marshal Tantawi in particular, or the Supreme Constitutional Court.
On the streets two opinions have unfolded. One group is jubilant that somehow, by hook or by crook, the Islamic parliament has been dissolved. The Islamist parties’ popularity had waned drastically in the last little while. They had exploited the short reign in power to the best of their abilities, so it wasn’t mere fear mongering that caused their downfall but their own actions that had them distrusted and ostracized by many. Ironically, they had waited for this glorious moment for almost eighty years only to lose it in a few months.
On the other hand, many see the timing and the dissolution of the parliament in itself as a ploy by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) to remain in power. The word on the street is “soft coup.” “Are we back to square one?” they ask. Some are wondering if indeed a revolution had taken place at all.
It is clear that Egypt has become divided within itself. The revolution has succeeded in bringing out the division that existed but was never brought to the forefront. Though the majority of Egyptians are Muslims, they have become divided into Islamists or non Islamists.
Let’s say that Shafik wins the race. Many disgruntled Egyptians will take to the streets yet again. To this group Shafik brings back the old regime and its ways. The same group will vow that the elections were rigged, that Tantawi’s junta played it well, that the judicial system in Egypt is bought and manipulated, and that the revolution will continue no matter what.
Shafik’s winning to them is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that SCAF has stage-managed the whole farce and will never leave power. How far will the dissatisfaction go and for how long? The fear is that it may turn into a second revolutionary wave leaving Egypt at square one.
If Mursi wins, millions of liberal Egyptians who see the Islamists as a group hungry for power will become distraught with fear. They see their world shattered and lost amidst the acceptable and unacceptable: taboos, do’s and don’ts, obedience, and sacrileges. They fear the Iranian, or better yet, a more current example, the Tunisian, Islamic version.
I had voted for Shafik not for the love of Shafik but to avoid the Islamic empire that is being built to dominate and overbear Egypt. Now I’m wondering if Mursi’s victory may have some salient aspects to it.
If Mursi wins, his victory would prove to the distrustful that SCAF did not operate the back scenes of the election, and that indeed “their man” did not win. It may also mean that Egyptians may accept the integrity of the Egyptian judicial system. These factors may alleviate the anger on the streets.
Yet in spite of the merits of having Mursi win, the Islamists will continue to dominate and may cause more harm in the long run, more so than the retaliations against Shafik.
Then again, those protesting will continue to find fault; it has become the name of the game. In a sense it’s good vigilance, and in another, it leaves the country in an ongoing mess.
In both scenarios, Egyptians are damned, at least for the time being and will face a few more hurdles before they set themselves on the right path. The bottom line is there is no perfect scenario. The long awaited “new” Egypt is a long ways to go. I anticipate more tension and strife before peace finally reaches Egypt’s shores.