Have Egyptians turned against each other?
It was yet another incident that aimed to shock and rock Egyptians just a few days after the amazingly peaceful gatherings of millions upon millions on the streets and squares of Egypt to mark the first anniversary of an ongoing revolution.
“It was too good to be true” summarizes the events preceding the shocking massive chaos that took place on a football field in Port Said on the night of Feb. 1. Thousands of so-called fans flooded the field, creating unprecedented havoc and loss of life. So far, 75 have been reported dead and close to 300 were injured in a senseless massacre that has left all Egyptians with a mixture of anger, pain and frustration. Egyptians continue to be emotional and their emotions cloud their responses. The real challenge is an issue of applying measures of accountability and finding the ability to respond. A painful incident indeed it is, but more devastating are the official responses and more questionable is the responsibility of those in power.
In an emergency session of the newly elected Egyptian People’s Assembly, a new sense of responsibility is emerging. As Egyptians are shaken almost every day by the unnerving attacks on their personal safety and security, their representatives today displayed an unprecedented rejection of the rulers of Egypt and their appointed government. Between eloquent words and harsher accusations, all agreed on holding those in charge accountable. The members of Parliament today stood ground and demonstrated much of the will of the people. The prime minister came under severe pressure together with his interior minister sitting by his side. His emotional plea and announcement of the resignation of the local governor and the head of the local security forces were not enough to abort the clear attacks on him and his Cabinet. The ruling military council was not spared. Their responsibility for the safety of Egypt and Egyptians was severely questioned and clear calls for their hasty departure and handing over of power were vocalized. Decisions to authorize the fact-finding mission to start investigations and report back in one week might appease the boiling street.
The fear-mongers are out to create rampage. They claim the threat of chaos looms over Egypt. In contrast, millions upon millions have taken to the streets so many times in the past year, mostly to demonstrate against the old and sometimes to vote for the new, without much incident. The exceptions are all the events under investigation where unarmed people were deliberately brutally attacked by men in official military and police garb. Just the night before, a possible massacre instigated by false information that the demonstrators outside Parliament were planning to raid it – and that the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood needed to safeguard the building – was foiled without too much incident but left many unanswered questions of responsibility and accountability. Meanwhile, Egyptians are gathering once more in the streets demanding retribution. Attempts to reinstate the fear of instability and chaos are certain to continue. It might be ironic that incidents like these will eventually lead more Egyptians to unite and understand their reality and become more determined to create a different kind of stability.
Fear does not create security. Those who rule must be held accountable and those who create fear must be brought to justice.