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Polarisation - Daily News Egypt

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Polarisation

Since the 25 January Revolution, Egypt has witnessed fierce debates. Torn between the novelty of the Democratic experience and other factors newly thrown in the mix such as Religion, and identity, the country continued to descend into chaos. Every passing instance and each event have continued to present an opportunity to label and take sides. …


Dr Mohamed Fouad
Dr Mohamed Fouad

Since the 25 January Revolution, Egypt has witnessed fierce debates. Torn between the novelty of the Democratic experience and other factors newly thrown in the mix such as Religion, and identity, the country continued to descend into chaos. Every passing instance and each event have continued to present an opportunity to label and take sides. Unknowingly, each one of us has set the boundaries of logic almost in a prefabricated manner. Each has a “Catalogue” on how to deal with events. If you are unfortunate enough not to have this “Catalogue”, you are bound to be called several names ranging from squeamish, greyish to traitor. Hence, the worst thing to do in modern day Egypt is not to take a stance. You have to; it is not even optional anymore!

Take 1:

About a year ago, I received a call from a famous channel asking me to come on one of their programmes. The caller asked me: “Are you with or against Muslim Brotherhood”.  The question stomped me for a second. While clearly not a fan of Political Islam, I have my reservations against such juvenile segregation. This is not an Ahly-Zamalek match where you are obliged to take sides and pick a team to root for. The guy went on to explain: “You need to pick a side and clearly take a stance for or against; the viewers won’t understand otherwise”. I was forced to decline the appearance. I felt that I was not ready to participate in a session of high school machismo.

Take 2:

As a conservative by nature, I was never a steadfast supporter of all forms “revolutionary” changes. I remain sceptical in the face of changes that happen in the heat of the moment. In fact, in the build up to 30 June, I have been a staunch critic of the movement to topple President Morsi. When the movement succeeded, I received calls asking me to support the Rabaa sit-in. Again, I found myself in a position where I am expected to pick sides. Since, I wasn’t a supporter of 30 June, I am now perceived to be a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Again, the polarisation has taken its toll and the “you are either with us or with the terrorists” rhetoric has gripped the society.

Take 3:

As the Constituent Assembly continues its work, opinions are already flying around concerning the constitution currently in the making. Some people have the audacity to start already with a push towards a “Yes” campaign while on the other end, others have already their hearts set on a “No” vote. How can one reach such conclusion when the final draft has not been finalised is truly bewildering. Better yet, how could one reach this stance without even having the slightest clue on the content? The distilled purpose however remains clear; a “yes” vote is a vote for stability while a “no” vote is a call for uncertainty. I can’t help but be truly nostalgic in the face of such nonsense.

Sad isn’t that any attempt to avoid prefabricated and pre-polarised opinions will be met with extreme resistance. There is a great tendency to take sides these days. It is easier and less painful to choose a side rather than be pragmatic about any situation. But how do we reach this point where logic is often suspended in exchange for intuition? We continue with this next week…

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  • Ahmed Bata

    Dr. Fouad, the identity crisis isn’t new, we in Egypt just never had the freedom to discuss it before. Because we have no experience with debate and compromise, our dialogue is polarized and uncivil. The stances have been predetermined long ago though. At it’s heart, some believe that God wants “full Sharia” where non Muslims and less than pious Muslims are treated differently by the State. In this scenario, the State has a mandate to promote Islam, and prevent what is traditionally deemed not to be Islamic. Other Muslims have rationalized that Islam today calls for a more egalitarian approach, with more freedom given to individuals in spiritual matters. The later are of course supported by all non Muslims. It is the same conflict that Al Qaeda, the Taleban, and myriad other groups, have with the rest of Muslim society. You will note those groups are active almost exclusively in Muslim societies. The notable exception ofc is 9/11, and that was in an attempt to scare the USA away from propping up and supporting Muslim governments Al Qaeda wanted to overthrow. We seem to be settling on a middle ground, which is, I hope, a compromise we can all live with. Our identity will still be Islamic and tied to Sharia. This compliance with Sharia however, will not be determined by Islamic scholars. The supreme constitutional court will instead decide any alleged conflict with Sharia. The Churches’ representative is ofc unhappy with these events. And I am sure the “full Sharia” camp is also unhappy. Hopefully we will learn to peacefully and productively coexist, as we share our unhappiness. As a final note, your article is dated Nov 24. As of that date, the constitutional articles are fairly visible, and one can make an educated decision as to whether it deserves one’s support.

https://dailynewsegypt.com/2013/11/24/polarisation/
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