Monday, 28 January 2013

Egypt Burning: Back to the Future?

Photo: Egypt is bracing for the second anniversary of the January 25th revolution. In 2011, it was 'Down down with Hosni Mubarak'; in 2012 it was 'Down down with Military Rule'; in 2013 it will be 'Down Down with Brotherhood Rule'.

Beyond the worst violence of the revolution of January 25th, beyond anything in living memory, what is going on in Egypt today is shocking, horrifying, catastrophic. Beyond words. Egyptians killing Egyptians- over what?
A year after the Port Said soccer massacre in which seventy-some supporters of the Cairo-based Ahli team lost their lives a year ago, Egypt braced for the verdict of the court trying the Port Said hooligans who were allegedly behind the violence. If they were acquitted, the Ahli ‘Ultras’- diehard fans- threatened massive disruption and violence. When twenty one of the Port Said accused were sentenced to death, their families and friends saw the verdict as bowing to the pressure of the Ahli and vowed in return to show ‘Cairo’ the mayhem that Port Said could wreck. The numbers of the dead in the ensuing fighting between natives of those three cities and the police has nearly equaled the number of original victims of the soccer massacre. Meantime other cities far and wide in the country are up in arms, and Cairo itself is the scene of rioting and traffic-stopping street protests.
How can this be happening in a country where civil war is unknown, where regionalism and secession are unheard of, where the control of the central government has been the overpowering paradigm of the past five thousand years? Three eastern port cities with a history of patriotism against invaders- Port Said, Ismailiya, Suez- are in bloody revolt against ‘Cairo’, and the Morsi government has called in the army and imposed a thirty-day martial law and curfew crack down.
To complicate matters, no one really knows who or what is behind the scenes, or who is being manipulated and by whom. Is this the counter-revolution so long threatened or promised? Is this chaos a calculated, necessary preliminary to the intervention of the military and a military take-over, this time for good, openly, and with no opposition? Is it a repeat of the scenario of January 26, 1952, when Cairo was set aflame, and Colonels Nasser and company staged their coup the following July, setting the stage for uninterrupted rule by military men for the next sixty years? January 25, 2011, was in a sense a revolution against the regime that came to power in 1952. Two years later, in 2013, is it back to the future? For so many Egyptians disgusted and terrified by the power grab of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government, that scenario may be the lesser of two evils.
Regardless. Enough. Enough is enough. Enough of the madness of Egyptians destroying each other, destroying their country, destroying their revolution, destroying their economy. Enough. They should take a step back to sanity and behold what they have wrought.