Sisi is taking Egypt away from democracy

A tweet from a distraught Egyptian summed up the outrage in the best possible manner. He said, a mad man is now ruling in Cairo. Few would disagree with this tweet and all the more after a Kangaroo court sentenced 529 Muslim Brotherhood workers to death for killing a policeman last summer. And 683 more are feared to get the same verdict on exactly the same charge in a day or two or three. With sheer barbarity and malice, this charade of justice signalled what Bel Trew says: "the beginning of Egypt's bloody purge".

Viciousness of this purge is telltale and the world is aghast with horror. A shocked editorial in The Guardian said, "The sentencing of 529 of the Muslim Brotherhood to death will send a shudder through those who cheered on the revolution." Equally horrified was the comment made by The New York Times. It said, "The court verdict … that condemned 529 … to death for the killing of a single police officer last summer was a uniquely shocking example of a judicial system run amok."

Egypt's strongman Field Marshall Abdel Fattah El Sisi has already taken the country into the darkest phase of its existence. He is the incarnation of Caligula or Attila the Hun in twenty first century. Some would say Field Marshal Sisi is the incarnation of both Caligula and Attila.

In Egypt, repression is being used today to wipe out opposition and silence the voices of dissent. Mass arrests and executions are used not for waging war on terror but to legitimise murder of democracy, military coup and restoration of crony politics. Dissidents in the country are regularly flushed out of their homes and are charged with spurious charges. They are incarcerated for long years, beaten up to soften them and even sentenced to death in equally spurious show of trial.

Many of these activists, designated as terrorists, are journalists who dared to write the truth and social workers who refused to accept military coup and arrest of an elected president.

"Egypt's ruling generals have demonstrated beyond any lingering doubt that they have no aptitude for, and apparently little interest in, guiding their country back to democracy."

As a retrograde military rule re-consolidated its grip on the nation the biggest casualty of the mayhem has been the Arab world's movement for democracy, freedom from repression, human rights, pluralism and restoration of human dignity. We cannot but agree with the assessment of eminent columnist and a frontline expert on Middle East Robert Fisk. He feels that Muslims may never trust the ballot box again.

Therefore, to the opposition in Egypt, extremism is now appearing a better option. Field Marshal Sisi will remain criminally responsible for offering the handle for this scourge to revive. Extremism has always thrived on tyranny and tyranny is what the Field Marshal and his generals have offered in abundance.

The crimes of Field Marshal Sisi are many and unpardonable. He gave the country a barbaric bloodbath, foisted on it an illegitimate government, sacked and incarcerated a democratically elected president, brought back the brutality of the past and has held an entire nation at ransom.

He must pay for his crimes. Egyptians must now realise the crimes their general has committed against them. They must revive their revolution and bring this murdering tyrant to gallows.

Sisi's crackdown is increasingly turning counter productive raising a few fundamental questions. How and in what way the removal of Mohamed Mursi been helpful? How is the new regime different and better than that of Mursi?

Mursi and Muslim Brotherhood may have been taking Egypt along the path of Islamisation and was fundamentally opposed to democracy for which the country and its youth rose in uprising. Mursi and Brotherhood cannot be defended for the misrule they gave the nation in their short term of just a year of being in power.

But is this de facto military rule of the Field Marshal any way benign to the nation? Is this rule of the Field Marshal in any way taking the country towards democracy, freedom and economic progress? Has the Field Marshal, a reprehensible reincarnation of Caligula and Attila the Hun, taken any step yet to develop and empower a single democratic institution?

The least he could have done is to make the judiciary independent and a democratic institution. On the contrary the Field Marshal used judiciary to further his partisan rule and legitimise his draconian crackdown on the opposition, especially Muslim Brotherhood.

There is indeed a mad man out in Cairo and he has lit a pyre which is fast burning the whole of Egypt down. This mad man usurped power staging a military coup not to fulfil the will of people, not to take Egypt forward, not to establish democracy.

In pursuing an authoritarian policy Field Marshal Sisi has made Egypt more parlous than ever. Today it is at war with itself, ominously divided into myriad fractions — army versus Muslim Brotherhood, Christians versus Muslims, Leftists versus secularists, people versus police and people versus people.

Egypt today looks like Algeria of 1992 where everyone was at war with everyone else. It took a decade for Algeria to come out of the internecine war and over 150,000 dead. We don't know what will be the cost Egypt may have to pay for the inanity of its general who had never been a guardian of democracy but a sinister opportunist waiting in the twilight zones to consolidate military's grip over the nation and to re-install the old regime — Mubarak redux.

The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman


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