On the 30th of June, 2013, we took to the streets to protest the rule of Dr. Mohamed Morsi, a member of the so-called Muslim Brotherhood and then president of Egypt. We protested against him, and our reasons were as diverse as we ourselves were; some of us were with the revolution, and against the Muslim Brotherhood, some of us were clearly Mubarak loyalists who salivated at the chance to depose the Brotherhood. Some of us had, ostensibly, gone down to protect our Egyptian ‘Identity’ from the Pseudo-Islamist fascism that we had all seen crystalized before our eyes in the mostly-Islamist parliament in which we had seen the face of so-called ‘Political Islam.’
Since that day, since Morsi was removed, events have taken on their own momentum; the military exploited our protests just as it had exploited the revolution from the very start. The generals took control just as they had taken it after Mubarak fell, or as some would say after they exploited our uprising to topple Mubarak because they were against his plans to hand over power to his son Gamal Mubarak. The explanations, naturally, differ. Some say the military didn’t want Gamal in power because he was a civilian and outside of the military establishment. Others say that his close relations with businessmen and his allies in the National Democratic Party had become de-facto business rivals to the military. The theories abound, but the result is the same.
With those things in mind, some say we made a terrible mistake when we protested against Morsi.
This belief often rests on the results. The results of the protests (so far) are depressing, and so, they reason, our actions must certainly have been wrong. This logic, however, is completely unacceptable. If we were to judge actions solely by their results, then perhaps it would have been better to have not done anything at all. The revolution has cost us dearly, and perhaps, it can be said, if we had remained silent in the face of Mubarak’s oppression, perhaps Mina Danial would still be alive, perhaps our beloved cleric Emad Effat would still be alive. Perhaps many who died would still be alive. The logic of judging our actions by their results is feeble and desperate and can easily be shown to be ridiculous; if you see a child about to die, and you save their life, only to see them grow up and become a murderer, would you then conclude that it was wrong to help save them? Ridiculous.
Other arguments focus on the circumstances. That we should have realized that the corrupt leadership of the military was going to exploit the situation as it had exploited all previous ones. In truth, all of us, except for, perhaps, the most naïve amongst us, already knew this, and yet – we decided that we must once again roll the die. We decided that we must gamble, once again, on the people, and bet that they would not tolerate another oppressor just as they did not tolerate Field Marshal Tantawi’s oppression and just as they did not tolerate the Muslim Brotherhood’s oppression, and just as we (still) expect they (we) will not long tolerate oppression from Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi. If we lose hope in that, in the desire of the people to live freely, then all our actions become devoid of meaning and value.
They go on, saying we should have grown suspicious when the regime-controlled media, awash in corruption, was encouraging the protests, and when we saw the police make promises that they would not act against us, and when, finally, we saw the military threaten Morsi with action, and when regime loyalists on television assured us that it was safe to protest and that the state would not move against us. They say that all of these things constituted clear clues. They say this as though we were idiots who did not see these things or saw them but did not understand what they meant. The fact of the matter is, we are not that stupid, nor are we blind. We saw all these things, and we understood them, but again, perhaps a simple example would serve the purpose here; if you complain of a corrupt judge, an unjust judge, and as you were complaining about him, somebody else, a guilty felon, also complained of that self-same judge, would that mean that you were wrong and that the judge was, in fact, good? Again, the logic of this argument is feeble and unacceptable. That somebody can leverage your legitimate grievance to commit a crime does not mean that you yourself were wrong.
Now, back to basic pragmatics – we know our situation now, and it is miserable, but here we must ask – would the situation have been any better had Morsi remained in power? Now here we must clearly speculate since the question is clearly hypothetical….
A few weeks after Morsi was removed, I met one of his supporters. Initially, I had no idea he was Pro-Morsi. I complained about the military and expressed my annoyance at Sisi’s choice to run for president in the (then) upcoming elections and was saying that a Sisi presidency would spell certain disaster. The man agreed with me but then started defending Mohamed Morsi. I didn’t want to continue the conversation under pretenses, so I told him straight out that I had gone down on the 30th of June to protest against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and that I was frustrated with events since then. I explained to him my point of view; we, the people, have suffered under military rule for over 60 years, we have been carrying this load which we can refer to as ‘military fascism,’ and the people had hoped that the Islamists would remove this load, remove this burden from them. However, the Brotherhood did no such thing. Rather than remove the military burden, they allied themselves with the military and gave it unchecked constitutional powers and the right to subject any Egyptian to military trials. The Brotherhood left this burden on the people, and rather than remove it, or at the very least, replace it with their own (supposedly religious) fascism, the people now carried a double burden, that of the Islamists AND that of the military.
When we went down in January, we called for freedom for everybody. We did not exclude the Islamists, and we hoped to lift the burden off everybody, but when the so-called Islamists got into power, we saw their true colors and felt the weight of their burden. We saw a president who smiled as his colleagues referred to Shiites as ‘filthy,’ and within days, Egyptian Shiites were seen murdered and dragged through the streets of Egypt. Finally, after the people tried to remove the burden of the military and found the Islamists lumping them with more weight, not less, the people decided to reject the newly added burden and to return to the previous one, in the hopes that one burden would be easier to remove or reduce than two, because, sadly, we understood that the Muslim Brotherhood and the military were not enemies, but rivals. They would ally with the military against us and compete with the military over the exercise of power and authority…
Of course, my words do not apply to all. I speak mainly to those who stand with the revolution and who wanted, by will and by action, one result; a better future for Egypt and all Egyptians. I do not speak for, or to, those who protested not only to remove Morsi but to crown Sisi, and I do not speak for those who went down to bring back Mubarak’s regime. However, I know, for a fact, that many of those also participated in the protests against Morsi. However, I claim that the largest portion of the protesters did not belong to either of those groups.
For this, my evidence is simple; I compare the massive number of people who went down to protest against Morsi on the 30th of June to the comparatively lesser amount of people who rallied in response to Sisi’s call on the 26th of July, and from the difference, and it is in the millions, I conclude that most Egyptians who went down on the 30th of June did so to remove an oppressor, and not to enable another one.
Revolting against oppression is a right and a duty, and if we made a mistake, it is not that we protested against Morsi, but that we have not yet taken to the streets against Sisi.