I have been out of the country for the past week, which left me following Egypt’s news from afar, which has provided me with a new perspective: it has become virtually impossible to take news about Egypt seriously. It’s akin to reading a very localised version of [satirical news website] The Onion, only with the editors on crack. Let’s take a quick recap of what happened.
On the government side, having Islamists in power has proven to be a fantastic source of hilariously embarrassing international incidents. Last week has had our president, Morsy, caught on camera adjusting his junk while talking to Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, which prompted the internet to respond the only way it knew how, by wondering if he was hitting on the PM and by making estimates about the size of his private parts. Not to be outdone, Morsy’s minister of information openly hit on a Lebanese TV host, Zeina Yazgy, telling her that he hoped that her questions wouldn’t be as hot as she was… because subtlety died sometime last week. In the meantime, the first 100 days of Morsy’s presidency are now almost over, with only four of his promises out of 64 fulfilled, which is probably making the people who started the Morsy Meter website regret the time and effort they put into that thing.
On the side of the Islamist parties, the implosion of the Salafi Al-Nour Party marked the first honest-to-god political fight between Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), with Khairat El-Shater clashing with Yasser Borhamy on an epic level. It started with the MB appointing the Al-Nour Party president, Emad Abdel Ghaffour, to be the Morsy’s assistant for social discourse, which angered the Al-Nour Party heads and had them call for an early election to remove him, which he then stopped, which lead to the party splintering between the Abdel Ghaffour front and the Borhamy loyalists. Adding to the Party’s woes was Shafiq’s announcement that he met with Borhamy on the eve of the elections and the accusations of the Abdel Ghaffour front that the party’s spokesman, Nader Bakkar, has ties with state security. In a completely related development, while Borhamy is getting roasted over that meeting, the Freedom and Justice Party’s newspaper announced that the MB’s man, Hassan Malek, also met with Shafiq and that they see nothing wrong with such a meeting, establishing themselves as the brazen Big Boys of Islamist political parties, angering Borhamy more. So, the lovely Salafi sheikh responded the only way he knows how: by messing with the Constituent Assembly.
Borhamy knows that Khairat El-Shater and the MB want the constitution over and done with, so he is doing his best to delay and destroy it to score points against the MB with Islamist voters. So he starts using his people inside to propose an amendment to lower the marriage age to nine, or remove the article that prohibits human trafficking and female slavery, which naturally drives the secularists insane and has them threatening to withdraw from the assembly, which would bring it down. The MB, thinking about the next parliamentary elections, decide to play along and humour the Salafis, because they don’t want to appear less pious than them, which ends up putting more heat on them from the secularists’ side and the international community and stalls the constitution writing process even longer. A stalled constitutional committee for a splintered party. Borhamy versus El-Shater; one all so far.
You would think that such a battle would be the perfect time for the secular parties to push forward and score some political points, but as we said, nothing that is happening on that front can be taken seriously anymore. The secular parties, recognising their people’s calls for unity, have created five different coalitions so far and counting. The Social Democratic Party, high on an internal “election” in which no one lost and everybody won, are currently negotiating a merger with the Free Egyptians Party, to create one party that truly doesn’t represent anyone. There are talks with Hamdeen Sabahy’s people to join them in a coalition, as long as the parties agree that Sabahy will be their candidate in the next elections. Completely ignoring the fact that the Sabahy is an accidental candidate, and that his votes were basically the ElBaradei voters who just couldn’t vote for Abul Fotouh, the parties seem to be agreeing to Sabahy’s demand, because, honestly, who do they have that can compete nationally anyway?
Meanwhile, the revolutionary leaders Wael Ghonim and Amr Hamzawy engaged in a Facebook fight over Hamzawy’s call for international pressure to ensure that the Egyptian constitution complies with international human rights agreements that Egypt has signed, which prompted Ghonim to post on Facebook that he is very disappointed with Hamzawy asking for foreign intervention, which prompted Hamzawy to respond in an interminable article explaining that he is against foreign intervention, but not exactly against international pressure. The revolutionaries, on the other hand, have been ignoring all of this, and focusing all of their energies on the nationally important issues of a football game being played and graffiti being removed. Now that’s a group that has its priorities straight. Welcome to Egypt, where political analysis is starting to closely resemble political parody.
The circus is in town, people, and it is not leaving anytime soon. Sit back and enjoy the show.