April 18, 2012

The revolutionaries of Egypt play felool

Sometimes it is amazing to see how easily people are fooled. Even people who call themselves revolutionaries and fight a tyrant. When on Saturday the Presidential Election Committee (PEC) disqualified 10 of the 23 candidates who had applied to run in the elections for Egypt's presidency, people danced in the streets with joy - for next to the most dreaded Omar Suleiman - ex spy-chief of Mubarak - the just as much detested Khairat El-Shater from the Muslim Brotherhood was rejected by the commission. That was indeed good news. So good in fact, that no one cared to think about why the candidate El-Shater had been refused. The only thing that counted was his being ousted from the run for office - and what better thing could happen to Egypt than that?

Well - justice perhaps? Because justice is nowhere to be found in the decision by the PEC on El-Shater's rejection. Nor, by the way, on the rejection of another candidate - Ayman Nour. Nour too was rejected by the PEC - and startling enough both for the same reason.

Two sides to a coin

Under Mubarak' dictatorship the ikhwan Khairat El-Shater was imprisoned several times for his political views that the regime deemed dangerous. Now that the dreaded Mubarak is gone and the dictatorial regime due to a revolution is supposed to be history, the imprisonment under Mubarak should not speak against El-Shater, on the contrary. He, who defied the dictator should be considered rehabilitated in post revolutionary times since the dictator is gone.

Yet the opposite is true. The PEC rejected El-Shater as candidate for presidency due to his earlier convictions and jail terms. These they are holding against him. And the revolutionaries, who are more than glad that he is ousted from the race, rejoice.

When the liberal Ayman Nour dared to become the first person to contest the dictator Mubarak in the elections 2005 it cost him his freedom right after the elections. Mubarak of course stayed in power and Nour was thrown in jail on charges of "forgery" many considered and consider to this day as trumped up to silence a liberal mind. Now that the dictator is gone, this bravery should speak in his favour and the revolutionaries would surely not hold this against him. Yet the PEC does, for it rejected Nour too with pointing out that he had had an earlier conviction and served jail time. He is therefore not eligible. The revolutionaries are disappointed about this and complain bitterly.

It is interesting and just as much scary to see how so called liberals and leftists, activists and revolutionaries look at the same context twice and show two different reactions - depending on whether they like the person in question or not. However not depending on aspects of justice or democracy.

Reason to rejoice?

Both Shater and Nour received the same verdict from the PEC: Because they were thrown in jail under the dictator Mubarak - they now cannot become president, because a presidential candidate may not have a criminal record. Since both served jail sentences, both - according to the PEC logic - have a criminal past and therefore are not eligible to stand for office.

While this decision in Ayman Nour's case is met with anger and criticism by revolutionary forces - the same decision in El-Shater's case is hailed as a victory for a democratic Egypt. And no one sees how bitterly the PEC is having them on, playing the old cards from the old system and judging according to the old way of thinking - that whoever is (or was) against Mubarak is an enemy to Egypt and must be ousted from political life. Is that the tune of the revolution of January 25? Hardly. Then what is the rejoicing about?

What the revolutionary forces of Egypt - the leftist, the liberals, the activist - don't get is that with this two-sided rejection the old regime is still in full force deciding on who is going to run for president and not. While this as such should not come as a surprise - one thing does: the fact that the revolutionary forces themselves in hailing the ousting of El-Shater now actively support such an unjust, flawed, dictatorial decision - and don't even realize that with this they are being complicit to the injustice of the old regime.

Food for thought

When you hail that El-Shater is not allowed to run for office because he was thrown in jail under Mubarak you are in fact condoning the felool way of thinking, you are supporting the old forces and you show them that they have nothing to fear from the revolution with regard to protesting for a free and just decision on who is going to become president of Egypt.

When you protest against the ousting of Ayman Nour you lack credibility, and the regime knows it. Either you accept that jail term under Mubarak for political reason was not a crime but something brave and a sacrifice of personal lifetime - then you will have to accept this for every candidate, whether you like him or not. If you only accept this for Nour but not for Shater, the only thing you prove to the old regime and yourself is that the demands of the revolution like freedom, democracy and justice were nothing more than empty slogans whose real values and dimensions you have not understood to this day.

If so, you will get the president you deserve. Then don't complain.



  1. For the non-Egyptian readers: The term 'felool' describes remnants of the old corrupt regime.

  2. Fully agree and have articulated similar views Jim. You captured the issues very clearly and returned it back to the central topic of justice