The summer of 2011 must’ve been an incredible time for Hamdeen Sabbahi. He was one of the darlings of the revolution, known as a left-leaning Nasserist (whatever that means), ignored only by the hardcore revolutionaries who would only rubber-stamp a batter front-liner, but mostly admired, and generally just liked by almost everybody else. He was tight with what you could, with some effort, call the civil leaders of the revolution, although most of them were not so much leading as doing their damnest to keep up with the street, and with Tahrir – but he was in.
I have no idea who took this picture, but look at it for a few seconds…this was in the summer of 2011, whatever credit Tantawi and SCAF had acquired at the start of the revolution was already starting to wear thin, and Hamdeen was, literally, riding on a wave of revolutionary youth. Whatever you may think of Hamdeen – that image literally made an icon out of him.
Now, here we are – three years later – and Hamdeen is generally sneered at, mocked, he is dismissed as being soft, as being too pro-army, as being desperate for the presidency, and now – with the Sisi is Nasser rhetoric – is seen as a Nasserite competing with a Nasser.
This is an understandable position if you’re pro-army, or if you’re generally in a position to have linked interests with the regime. This is understandable if you’re a staunch capitalist who distrusts even the notion of any leftist reforms, but it is certainly less clear if you’re a revolutionary who is against army rule…
The simple fact is this; people’s positions towards Hamdeen Sabbahi have changed a lot more than Hamdeen’s positions themselves have. Somehow he has lost most of the support that gave him around 5 million votes in 2012’s presidential elections.
How did this happen?
In other words; how is it possible that so many of those opposed to military rule are not planning to vote for the only candidate that is neither a Field Marshal or a member of the Muslim Brotherhood? How is that the case?
I mean – sure – Hamdeen lost some people in late 2011, when he took it upon himself to state that chanting ‘Down with Military Rule’ was not “useful”, but that is a point of contention with a select few. It’s true that many of the criticisms leveled at Hamdeen might be true, but the point is, they were equally true when you voted for him back in 2012.
So, it’s worth asking – what’s changed?
Has the media campaign against him been that effective? Have we all just mostly fallen into it without wondering why our positions have changed so much? Unless you’ve consciously made a choice to boycott the elections, how could you not vote for Hamdeen? I can even understand a small segment of spite-voters who have the military and yet, will go vote for Sisi, just to give him even more rope, but those are certainly a minority….