Liberal arrogance and tutelage are hand in hand in Egypt!
Egypt has been focused on one issue alone since the overthrow of Mubarak. The subject of the main discussions going on for months now is the elections. First, the parliamentarian elections occupied the agenda for months. The elections themselves were spread over three months.
The discussions of the presidential elections began right after. When Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, announced his candidacy for presidency the discussions of presidential elections turned into discussion of the Ikhwan.*
The responses from the West and particularly the reactions of the constituency dubbed liberal in Egypt were interesting. The liberal critique — or in other words, liberal arrogance — triggered by al-Shater’s candidacy was in fact apparent in the committee drafting the constitution. The Islamists in Egypt were convicted before any discussions could take place and the panel drafting the constitution was dissolved by the Administrative Court.
The decision to dissolve the panel was followed by the presidency discussions. First, endorsement of a candidate by the Ikhwan was harshly criticized. Second, the candidacy of al-Shater, a candidate that could become a uniting factor in Egypt, was rejected by the courts. Al-Shater was rejected despite the reassurances of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that al-Shater’s conviction and prison sentence given during the anti-democratic practices of the Mubarak regime would not constitute a problem to his candidacy. However, the issues between the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Ikhwan, the tensions between the SCAF and FJP, and the relations with the West had the potential to be managed through al-Shater. Egypt has lost that chance to a great extent.
It’s beneficial to recall some basic truths about Egypt:
1. The elections in Egypt took place under the tutelage of the military and the judiciary; and the FJP secured almost 50 percent of the seats in Parliament. This shows at least that the legitimacy given to the Obama administration was reversed by the FJP.
2. The discourse prevalent today that the “FJP is controlling the Parliament and if they win the presidential elections as well, it would be a disaster” evokes the black propaganda of the 2007 presidential elections in Turkey. Five years have passed since the disaster scenarios were devised in Turkey. That such claims were only black propaganda is even more visible now. Besides, the FJP does not “control” the Parliament.
“Control” is simply a remnant of the political technologies of the Mubarak regime. What is experienced today is simply the representation of the people by legitimately elected representatives. This, if we are not mistaken, is called democracy.
3. The order of “Mubarakism without Mubarak” as insisted on by the SCAF can in fact gain some tactical ground by using the instruments of the old order as it has done in the last few weeks. However, in the intermediate and long term, there is no chance for either the liberal arrogance that criticizes the old order but cannot accept the results of the elections or the actors belonging to Mubarak’s political world to survive in the face of the people’s will.
* Editor’s note: Ikhwan is the Muslim Brotherhood