The fairy tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is being acted out in Egypt: The ministers who are frightened of the emperor’s power or who covet his gifts pretend they can see the imaginary suit and disregard the glaring reality that the emperor is naked, whereas the innocent child who does not want anything and is not afraid of anything tells the truth. There was a great revolution that deposed Hosni Mubarak, and the military council took power for a transitional period. Through a set of decisions the military council managed to wear Egyptians down and sow discord among the revolutionary forces. The military council was also able to win over politicians and parties who feared its power or desired to please it so that they could come to power. The only ones who remained loyal to the revolution were the young people who called for revolution in the first place and paid the price for freedom with their blood. These real revolutionaries are like the brave child who confronted the naked emperor with the truth. The millions of Egyptians who went out in the streets, faced death and saw their comrades killed do not have political ambitions and do not want anything other than to see their country free, strong and respected. These revolutionaries represent what is most noble in Egypt.
The new massacre committed by the security forces on the orders of the military council in fact exposes the truth in full. It’s now our duty to see things as they really are, without euphemism or obfuscation. The reality of what is happening in Egypt can be summarized as follows.
- The military council was a fundamental part of the Mubarak regime and thoroughly complicit with it. We never heard of Field Marshal Tantawi and his men objecting to Mubarak’s tyranny or crimes, or of them questioning any of the decisions he took. The military council did not take part in the revolution; in fact, in the Battle of the Camel it left armed thugs to kill revolutionaries and did not intervene to protect them. It’s true that the military council refused to open fire on demonstrators and this was a moral and patriotic stand that definitely counts in the council’s favor (although Tantawi later denied he had received orders from Mubarak to kill the demonstrators). It should be clear to everyone that it was the revolution that gave the military council the legitimacy to govern during the transitional period. After the revolutionaries forced Mubarak out of office, they voluntarily consented to let the military council act on behalf of the revolution and work to carry out the revolution’s objectives. But unfortunately the military council changed from being an agent of the revolution into a tyrannical power that imposed on Egypt decrees and policies that undermined the revolution and pushed it off course, which preserved the old regime and enabled it to go on the offensive against the revolution.
- The military council has near-absolute control in Egypt because it holds both executive and legislative power, and so it is solely responsible for everything that has happened in Egypt since Mubarak stepped down. The breakdown in law and order, the spread of thuggery, the price rises, the deterioration in the economy and the decline in tourism—all these are problems that stem from faulty decisions taken by the military council, which should now quickly form a coalition government of revolutionary forces to run the country until elections produce an elected civilian authority.
- The military council has adopted a policy of violent repression toward the revolutionaries, but we find it simultaneously being kind and gentle to extremes with everyone affiliated with the Mubarak regime, most of them major murderers, criminals and thieves. The police officers who killed hundreds of Egyptians and injured thousands during the revolution; former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly; and even Mubarak himself are all enjoying the privilege of fair trials before civilian judges, with full guarantees of justice and the best possible legal and medical attention, whereas the military council persists in referring young revolutionaries to military courts on trumped-up charges and throwing them into military jails. Referring civilians to military courts is contrary to the most basic principles of justice, a violation of human rights, and incompatible with the international conventions signed by successive Egyptian governments. But the military council insists on referring civilians to military justice, as if it wants to keep hold of a new weapon of oppression, alongside the State Security agency, which continues to operate by the same methods even though its name has changed to National Security.
- The military council sees no distinction between the regime and the state, and so it sees the overthrow of the old regime as demolition of the Egyptian state. It is this conceptual confusion that explains why the military council is defending the Mubarak regime so fervently, which remains entrenched at the highest level in Egypt. The military council has refused to purge the police of corrupt leaders and has refused to purge the judiciary of judges who enabled electoral fraud. It refused to dissolve the local councils until a court ruling was issued. It refused to dissolve the National Democratic Party and even when it was dissolved by court order the military council allowed NDP members to form new parties to get into Parliament. Ten months after the revolution, most state officials still belong heart and soul to the Mubarak regime and their survival in power poses an imminent danger to the revolution and to Egypt as a whole. Most of the crises now taking place are artificial, organized by remnants of the Mubarak regime who want to spread chaos and obstruct change, which would lead to them losing their positions and facing trial, and even, in many cases, going to jail.
- In its dealings with the political forces, the military council is not impartial or even-handed. It applies the rules to some and neglects to apply them to others. The military council strictly monitors the sources of finance for the coalitions of revolutionary youth and for civil society organizations. General Roweini, a member of the military council, made baseless charges against young members of the April 6th movement and failed to apologize when he could not prove them. In the meantime, the millions of pounds a day the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are spending on election propaganda are clearly visible to members of the military council but they never stop to ask where this money is coming from. The Salafists and the Brotherhood, for some reason that will emerge in time, are close associates of the military council, so the council turns a blind eye to the sources of their financing, while it is openly hostile to the young revolutionaries and tried to tarnish their image through the state media, which is still as misleading and sycophantic as it was under Mubarak. The only explanation for the way the military council picks on the revolutionaries is that the revolutionaries really do challenge the council. They are not obsequious or cowed, and they will not abandon the objectives of the revolution, whatever the cost.
- The military council has repeatedly repressed, beaten, killed, abused, and violated the dignity of Egyptians, whether through the military police or the security forces. After every crime committed against peaceful demonstrators, the military council holds an inquiry through the military judiciary, making itself judge and jury at the same time, which undermines the credibility of the inquiry. At the same time, these inquiries are shelved away and we never find out anything about them. Who killed the demonstrators and who sexually abused the female protesters on the pretext of giving them virginity tests? And what penalties have been inflicted on these criminals? None. So Egyptians have a right to have lost all confidence in the justice of the military council.
What’s happening in Egypt has become glaringly obvious. The military council is following policies that in the end would lead to a regeneration of the Mubarak regime, but without Mubarak and his family. The process of aborting the revolution and turning it into a mere coup has been carried out in several stages: first, amending the old constitution rather than writing a new one, then pushing a referendum that led to a split in the revolutionary forces, then discrediting the young revolutionaries and putting pressure on ordinary Egyptians though artificial crises to wear them down, turn them against the revolution, and make them accept everything imposed on them, and finally carrying out massacres to repress the revolutionaries and put them back where they stood before the revolution. But what the military council has not understood is that after the revolution Egyptians have been freed from fear and will not submit to injustice forever. It is now the duty of us all to unite to save the revolution. All political disputes must be postponed in order to unite ranks and put pressure on the military council to form a revolutionary coalition government that is worthy of respect and can govern until a civilian authority is elected to take power from the army. Egypt will not go backwards.
Photo Credit: Amr Farouq Mohammed