Monday 6 August 2012

Revolutionary Felool

They are many and their numbers seem to be growing daily. They used to complain about the corruption that was so typical of the Mubarak era, they wanted change but didn’t quite know how to realize it. Some dreamt of a revolution, but thought such a thing was impossible in Egypt and would remain a dream. When the anti-Mubarak protests broke out in January of 2011, they supported them from day one, some stood in Tahrir, faced the hardships and finally saw before them a new Egypt, a fresh start they could actually realize. They chanted “down with the regime”, some of them were wounded or know someone who was killed by security forces. They cried tears of relieve and disbelief when Mubarak stepped down, thinking they were finally ready to take a step forward, this was their time to reclaim their country.

This is the story of many regular Egyptians. Not professional “activists” or anything like that, just young people dreaming of a better future, hoping they wouldn’t have to immigrate to find better chances outside of their country. Middle aged men and women who hoped this would mean their children could grow up in a country where they can develop their talents, where they can live safely and peacefully.

A scene from the movie "Birds of darkness" which was often used to symbolize the dilemma of the ordinary citizen having to choose between a regime representative and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

The group I’m speaking about were people who hoped for progress, true change in the government apparatus, rule of law and societal tolerance. They wanted a stop to the age of stagnation they felt Egypt was stuck in, they wanted technological advancements, better research facilities and education. They dreamt of decent healthcare and economic progress.

But instead, they found that many of the loudest voices speaking in the name of the revolution didn’t stand for these things at all. They found people hoping to limit freedoms even more, people whose only goal was to seek out confrontation with security forces even if it didn’t help their cause and people whose economic ideas would usher in disasters for a country with an already fragile economy. They found newly emerged political figures fighting for a few minutes on-air, spewing nonsense and outlandish conspiracy theories to justify themselves. They found “leaders” going the wrong way, cooperating with the wrong people and trusting promises they shouldn’t put their confidence in.

They were alienated and ridiculed when they started to doubt “the revolutionaries” and their methods. They were called “felool” when they didn’t support a protest or sit-in they felt would end up in violence and loss of lives and wouldn’t have any positive results whatsoever. They were called “elitist” when they didn’t agree with the mainstream opinions and explanations for recurring violence.

They were disappointed when they found a majority of so-called “human rights activists” blindly supporting a law that would ban a citizen from exercising his political rights. They were outraged that those who were once calling for rule of law were ready to ignore correct court decisions because they didn’t meet their “revolutionary” expectations and even started contemplating cancelling that court altogether.

And then, when it was time to choose a new president, they were shocked at how some “revolutionaries” naively supported a man who came from an organization which they felt represented everything they were against. Where they wanted freedom, he wanted less freedom in the name of protecting ‘public morals’. Where they wanted citizenship, his organization had sectarian tendencies. Where they wanted rule of law, he was ready to plainly ignore or go against court decisions. Where they wanted an end to corruption and hypocrisy, his organization had a record of lies and fabrications. It’s not that some people voted for Morsi because they believed him to be the best choice, the problem, for them, was that some people voted for him solely to thwart Shafik and his supporters, not because they believed he was the better candidate. The problem, for them, was that a man like Morsi, with the background and history of his organization, could be referred to as “the revolution’s candidate”!

Some of them decided not to vote at all or to void their ballots, deciding that a vote for either candidate would constitute an immoral act. Others decided to vote for Shafik because they believed he was the hero who would save the country and put it back on the right track. Others voted for Shafik because they felt Morsi was the worst choice and Shafik was the lesser of two evils and they had a responsibility to make a choice.

They are there, they have been alienated, but it seems that they are growing in numbers. Initially pro the revolution and against the Mubarak regime and all it stood for, they now feel the current regime might be/is even worse than the Mubarak regime. They no longer see themselves in that “revolution” which was said to be represented by Morsi. They no longer support a fight they feel is not for the good of the country anymore, but for the good of one organization. From “revolutionary” to “felool”, this is the story of those who lost faith in this revolution...