Tahrir II - For A Secular, Liberal, Inclusive Egypt
By Feroze Mithiborwala
05 July, 2013
EGYPT!! All of late last night I was transfixed & watching both Al Jazeerah & CNN as the developments unfolded in Cairo & across Egypt.
It was clear from the popular mobilisation in Tahrir, at the Presidential Palace, Alexandria, Suez to Mansoura & in every major city across Egypt, that not only had the Morsi-led Mulsim Brotherthood lost the popular mandate of the people, but more so had never understood it, due to their narrow Islamic perspective.
The mobilisation & the determined & buoyant mood far outstripped even the anti-Mubarak uprising in 2011. The Tahrir Revolution I – was a Peoples Uprising & not only an Islamic Awakening & this was what the Ikhwaan & the Salafists did not comprehend.
The revolution was for a democratic, inclusive, plural & diverse Egypt, where the various segments of society would all be given their rightful due. But the Islamists in their fervour entirely misconstrued the mandate & thus betrayed the soul of Egypt & its ancient culture & civilization.
Thus it was the Youth who once again seized the initiative & launched the Tamarod Movement (Rebellion) & collected 22 Million (2.2 Crore) signatures in 3 months (Morsi had 13 Million votes) & had promised to mobilise 1 Million people on the 30th of June.
The numbers surpassed all calculations & finally we had figures ranging up to 33 Million Egyptians across the country, who came out as they felt that the Revolution had been betrayed because the entire political & social space was being hegemonised by the MB-Salafist. The economy was worsening, the Govt was promoting religious extremism & sectarianism, Coptic Christians were utterly marginalised.
They saw that the Muslim Brotherhood had decided that the liberal, secular, leftists, socialists were going to be totally marginalised from the political decision making process – thus a battle to retrieve the soul of Egypt had to be waged & they did so successfully.
As for the key question of the role of the Army, it was clear that it was the People who demanded that the Army step into the picture, so that Egypt could move towards an inclusive democratic dispensation.
Those who fear that the Military will call the shots, need to know that it will be the very same Youth who will be out in Tahrir & send the Military packing to the barracks, if the Military betrays the trust & mandate of the People.
This they have already proved twice over, first against Mubarak & then again when they came out against the Army that took the reigns in the post-Mubarak era. So I am not overly worried about the role of the Army & look forward to a confrontation if it comes to that.
And there were solutions to pre-empt this national crisis. The MB itself could have asked Morsi to step down & appealed for the formation of a National Government – which would further re-negotiate the Constitution to ensure that it addresses the aspirations of all sections of society, as it clearly does not now.
Then once again move towards Parliamentary & Presidential elections. But the MB remained adamant, underestimating the groundswell of discontent & anger & to a large extent had lost contact with the non-Ikhwaan sections of society.
The matter of worry is:-
i) That both Tahrir I & Tahrir II lack in their anti-imperialist-anti-Zionist discourse & herein lies the worry. We would like to see marches to the US & Israeli embassies & demand that they end their wars & intervention in the Arab nations & the rest of the world.
ii) That Egypt as of now is a deeply divided society & the Ikhwaan & the Salafists perpetuated this divide, through their monopolistic & extremist tirade.
Thus it is the responsibility of the Youth & the liberal, secular, Left, Arab nationalists & religious communities to reach out to all segments of society across religion, gender, class, tribe & sect, engage all the political parties & arrive at a national consensus, for a national vision in every sphere of Egyptian national life.
The imposition of either Islamic or liberal values will lead to a lash back, thus both these cultural systems will have to engage & co-exist with one another in an atmosphere of mutual respect & understanding.
iii) There is a need to learn from the Democratic Socialist experiments underway in Bolivian South America & the Egyptian revolution needs to challenge the paradigm of capitalist neo-liberalism, austerity measures & subsidy cuts, loans from the IMF & from that matter from Qatar & the Saudis. This will only pauperize the masses further & ensnare the nation into the hands of the dim-witted petro-dollar sheikhs & the US-EU Bankers.
I also confident for the future of this great civilisation, as the Egyptian People, led by their Youth have proved themselves thrice over & now be it any political dispensation that takes over Cairo, they know that the Youth are watching & will be back soon if they fail to deliver the aspirations of a nation, of a great people that are demanding democracy, social & economic justice, mutual respect & equality for all faiths, with no faith monopolising the political or the social space, a liberal & secular, as well as an an Islamic & a Christian cultural milieu, whilst also rejoicing in the many ancient cultures of Egypt.
Now the focus should be on the creation of a transitional civilian government drawn from all the political parties & social segment. The negotiations & the passing of the new constitution by a national referendum, whilst also setting the dates for the presidential & parliamentary elections.
The Egyptian people are learning from their follies & at the same time are teaching the world the true meaning of People´s Power!!
Feroze Mithiborwala is a peace activist in Mumbai. He led the Asia to Gaza peace flotilla.
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