By any notion, democracy has not seen anything like this before. Never has its path been so bloody.
Over two thousand people have already been killed and in the latest violence, they killed at least seventeen more to establish democracy in Egypt. And if the country's latest 'pharaoh', General Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi at all established democracy, we wonder what kind of democracy it would be. Whatever it would be, it would certainly not be democracy.
Even the Sun has set behind the Great Pyramid of Giza never to rise again. In Egypt, therefore, a primordial darkness has become rather permanent. Six months have passed since the military coup which toppled Mohammed Mursi and Egypt is still far away from what General Sisi had promised to the nation. The fundamental cleavages of Egypt's domestic politics still remain unresolved. Anger is rising, conflicts are deepening, and battle lines are getting drawn. Egypt looks like a tinderbox waiting to explode for one last time.
Sisi has taken Egypt back to the dark days of 1954 when Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein got locked into an existential struggle with Muslim Brotherhood, better known as crisis of democracy. Dunces never learn from failures or history. And obviously General Sisi hasn't either. He, after successfully removing Mursi and usurping power, got sucked into a similar existential struggle with Muslim Brotherhood like his predecessor Nasser.
Rather than working for which he usurped power and sacked Egypt's first ever elected president General Sisi, says political analysts Eric Trager, got embroiled into a no-hold-bar fight for survival believing he must destroy the Brotherhood or else the Brotherhood will return to power and destroy him. As a result, he has only taken Egypt further into instability, unleashed waves of repression and encouraged violence to strike root polarising society dangerously and deeper than ever.
Radicals and terrorist outfits based in Sinai have got fresh lease of life. They have used the removal of Mursi and the military coup as pretexts to revive their activities. In Sinai terrorism has struck roots striking with impunity in the west of Suez.
Increasingly, General Sisi and Egypt's military are looking like the proverbial idiot who chopped off the branch of the tree on which he sat perched. In a senseless move and sans any concrete evidence the government declared Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation holding it responsible for the bombing of a police headquarters in Mansoura, north of Cairo city.
Branding Brotherhood as a terrorist outfit may offer the government and General Sisi enough justification to unleash more repressions. But the question is can they kill or destroy the party beyond recovery and resurrection? Nasser tried this in 1950s and had failed. And if history tells us anything it certainly tells us that Nasser's model was wrong and following that model will only strengthen Brotherhood. The biggest losers will be the Egyptians and Egypt.
Nasser's model created political intolerance, encouraged to see political opponents as personal enemies, consolidated autocratic rules, weakened democratic institutions, ruined social mosaic and enhanced omnipotence of the military. General Sisi, by adopting Nasser's model in his fight for survival against Muslim Brotherhood, is once again out to take Egypt back to the dark days against which the country
exploded in 2011.
"The filing of fresh charges against deposed President Mohamed Mursi, the jailing of three prominent secular leaders of the 2011 revolution, and a savage attack on a provincial police headquarters, all in the same week, point to a future in which Egypt's politics will be conducted by violent means. How miserably different this is from the open and civilised democracy to which the revolution once seemed to be leading."
The Guardian has been terse in its description of the prevailing situation. It said, the revolution is now being torn up by its roots. The young Egyptians who created the popular networks which brought down the Mubarak regime are now being victimised by its successor. The three men sent to jail belonged to the April 6 Movement, established in early 2008 to support a strike by textile workers in Mahallah. These young people provided the rhetoric and skills which, along with the Tunisian example, helped the Egyptian revolution to succeed.
For activists, journalists and opposition time now in Egypt is harrowing. Human rights defender Nancy Okail has fled the country and cannot return to visit her twin toddlers as long as General Sisi would hold the sway. At least 50 NGO workers are today facing jail terms as the military-backed and usurper government has pushed trumped-up charges against them.
Persecution of journalists in Egypt has become the most favoured modus operandi of the illegal government to gag truth and prevent stories of repression from being told. They are arrested, tortured and jailed. Transition towards democracy, pluralism and process of national reconciliation are no more on the government's agenda. In fact, they were never the reasons for which the military in Egypt staged the coup, cancelled the national constitution, jailed its elected president, killed over 2,000 men and women who protested against the military's crime and brought back autocracy only to keep the army's enterprise going.
Barbarism, in its most horrific avatar, is back again in Egypt. For sometime this monster laid low following Hosni Mubarak's fall. But, it has grown a new head. And it is General Sisi which is the new head as much as he is the face of the coup that illegally usurped power and trampled democracy.
Fortunately, autocracy and autocrats have always had short span of life. So shall they have in
Egypt as well.
The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman