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In a climate of intolerance, we cannot call Al-Sisi a failure - Daily News Egypt

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In a climate of intolerance, we cannot call Al-Sisi a failure

By Wael Eskandar It is no longer necessary to persuade the reader that Egypt is a country that has long forsaken its promised path of democratic transition, and whose rights abuses are systematic and deliberate. It is now a given, and whatever doubts there may have been dissipated with countless reports on human rights abuses, …

Wael Eskandar
Wael Eskandar

By Wael Eskandar

It is no longer necessary to persuade the reader that Egypt is a country that has long forsaken its promised path of democratic transition, and whose rights abuses are systematic and deliberate. It is now a given, and whatever doubts there may have been dissipated with countless reports on human rights abuses, oppressive laws, brutal police force, mass death sentences, empowerment of corrupt Mubarak-era businessmen and targeting of opposition figures, many of whom were long opposed to authoritarian rule. And while that may be not worth establishing anymore, it can be important to underline why this has become the trajectory.

In Egypt you cannot protest, you must not object, you must not diverge from the government narrative or report anything contrary to what they’ve stated, even if you are truthful.  So much so that when a young football player described Al-Sisi as a failure  following the 1 July attack in Sinai for his failure to stop terrorism and bloodshed, he was interviewed on Dream channel in an episode, which was more of a public tribunal than a talk show. It was conducted by state-sympathetic presenter Wael Al-Ibrashy, where he condemned Ahmed El-Merghany’s actions and allowed for football officials to call in, judge him, accuse him of treason and hurl racial insults at him.

Such intolerance to opinions that differ even slightly from the government-sponsored narrative is symptomatic of the fundamental problem with today’s Egypt.  This is not only  something we’ve observed over the past two years since the 3 July military takeover, but something conveyed explicitly through statements made by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who left no doubt as to what sort of Egypt he wants.

“We must not disagree,” Al-Sisi said in a speech in the “First Egyptian Family” Iftar on 24 June, confessing at the same time that he believes many innocent people are in jail, but accepting that “we must arrest some for others to live”.

Such is the central message of Al-Sisi’s regime that is at the heart of the Egyptian philosophy of governance right now, of which all other perplexing events and policies are a result. Through Al-Sisi’s own words, we can conclude that the price for opposition could be arrest, even if innocent, but that it is an acceptable price to pay so that others can continue to live. With that in mind, it is easy to see and understand the steps the regime has taken in order to suppress voices of dissent.

From early on, the protest law was used to silence opposition, combined with the targeting of Islamist and secular activists through courts, covert threats and sexual assaults. The law was always used as a pretext, but was never truly respected by the police or courts.

Following the assassination of prosecutor general Hisham Barakat, Al-Sisi expressed his disappointment that “the arm of justice is chained by the law”, proposing quicker executions, a worrying sign that even with all the abuses, Al-Sisi was hungry for more. The regime was quick to move forward with the new oppressive terror law, and to pass the controversial elections law.

The terror law basically grants the state impunity, and proposes that “everyone who intentionally publishes incorrect news and information about terrorist attacks and which contradicts official statements by the relevant bodies will be sentenced to a minimum of two years in jail”.

As Al-Sisi consolidates more power, the government seems to be less and less tolerant of even the slightest divergence from its set narrative.  There are over 60 journalists in jail, more and more citizens are kidnapped with impunity, the most recent of which was Khaled El-Sayed who was detained at the airport and forcibly disappeared for over 30 hours before his release.  This most recent example is the weakest among those disappearing for weeks on end, reappearing with trumped-up charges they could not have done.

Egypt seems to be locked inside a perpetual cycle of violence and intolerance fed by a state incapable or unwilling to allow space for freedoms. The Egyptian regime has been constantly willing to set aside law and evidence and to trump up charges for innocent people to spend time in jail.

The war on terror, a rhetoric supported by a great many backers of the regime, is merely used as a pretext to oppress citizens, while collateral punishment catches up with many innocent Egyptians who end up terrorised by the state more regularly than by extremists. In many cases, injustice and violence cause radicalisation, which plays into the hand of extremists who are looking to recruit more radicalised youth.

One of the cornerstones of a democracy, which sets it apart from authoritarian forms of rule, is tolerance to diverse ideas within a political order. With clear intolerance to opposition, the price for differing with the regime has been brutally high.

What is far more worrying is that security agencies representing the state have more recently acted like criminal gangs, rather than law upholding entities. Activists are continuously kidnapped and some are blackmailed through private information about their personal life, collected through advanced surveillance technology purchased from the West, with cold blooded assassinations taking place as well.

This climate of intolerance and pursuit of violence as a means to solve most problems causes disagreement to turn into conflict, rather than debate. It has become no longer possible to address government failings, or criticise false promises, such as the AIDS and hepatitis-C cure, or the promise to build a million housing units, or the new capital, and countless others. The anti-terror law’s clause on publishing places the regime as an information gatekeeper, and even if reversed, indicates the desired level of control over the narrative, even if it’s false. What hope is there for a country that feels threatened by journalism?

We cannot criticise the exorbitant amount of capital invested in the Suez Canal project, known as “The New Suez Canal”, without reactions that invoke accusations of treason. We cannot object, we cannot protest, we cannot suggest, without risking a tribunal. Even as the state fails to limit violence and bloodshed, which Al-Sisi himself considered a mandate, we cannot call Al-Sisi a failure.

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  • wisemanager

    Having got rid of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood who were in bed with Hamas, I would hardly call El Sisi a failure. It should also be said that democracy comes with a price tag, one hopes it will not be too expensive

    • Sally Wilton

      Muslim brotherhood were popular, that is why sisi got rid of them. Doesn’t mean they are not still popular and that Sisi has somehow grown in popularity

      • George

        32 million egyptians were in the streets on June 30 to demand morsi removal despite the threats he made to incite the decapitation of the protestors on June 15. As a result a large number of protestors were attacked and killed by gangs of islamists squads riding motocycles.
        Sisi did not remove him, he asked him to negotiate early elections . morsi refused and threatened to burn Egypt and fill its streets with rivers of blood during his televised speech on July 2nd.. He mimicked a gun with his fingers and used them to mimick shooting Sisi.
        Another thing: morsi may well be the first freely elected terrorist but Hitler too was freely elected.

        • usman k k

          A landslide victory of 96% without allowing any credible opposition to participate is true democracy and a person having victored by only 56% votes abiding all democratic rules which the world respect is just a mockery of democracy is a new lesson in political sciience you people teach!

          • George

            Hitler too was elected. Would’nt have you been glad if the military coup against him had succeeded ridding the world of a nazi fascist monster ?
            morsi was the first ‘freely’ elected terrorist monster , The people ordered the armed forces to remove him and rid the world of a theocratic fascist monster.
            Your rant is unimportant.

          • Minymina

            Are you retarded? The elections were monitored by the EU, AU and the UN. Sisi went up against Hamdeen Sabahi.

            Why is it you think Europe and other nations continue dealing with him.

      • Minymina

        Lol, try telling that to an Egyptian in Cairo. At the very least, you will get chased by an angry mob.

  • Intellectualist

    Try as you might there is no going backwards. Al Sisi will only permit forward. So go forward and elect a parliament that will be for the freedoms you need and not be critical of the interim government and Al Sisi’s inability to give them. It isn’t his job. It’s yours. Stop complaining and start campaigning for better. Criticism isn’t necessary to establish a basis for improvement. Positive change requires positive thinking. Criticizing is not an intelligent course of action. Being negative brings negative rewards. Terrorism is bred through negative thinking. Breed peace instead.

    • Sally Wilton

      he won’t allow opposition parties so how will there be free elections?

      • X- Thunderbolt

        Another unfounded information. Egypt has tons of opposition parties.

        • Sally Wilton

          You will see. Egypt is going down the road to totalitarianism and everyone is cheering for it.

          • X- Thunderbolt

            It is none of your business though. Why don’t you worry about the UK and its diminishing role in Europe and the world?

          • Minymina

            The problem with foreign publications is that they label islamists as activists. When in fact, they are nothing more than terrorists who seek to impose their $h!t on others.

            Egypt is currently the most stable Arab spring nation. The others are currently in a civil war or facing an islamic insurgency.

      • Minymina

        What exactly do you mean by opposition parties? Sisi isn’t part of a party.

    • George

      Intellectualist you are losing your time. The author is not an objective critic, but a non stop polemicist, and pamphleteer.

  • One ordinary apologist. Disturbed, though, arguments are only logically-linguistic. This is also dubbed ‘failure’.

  • X- Thunderbolt

    Wael, your ability to write such a bias, unfounded rubbish, undermines your whole premise. The problem with people like you is lack of political and civic awareness. You use terms like freedom, tolerance, and democracy so loosely to confuse your readers and you continue to make a living. Democracy as you imply here and else where, is the freedom to do whatever the hell you and other thugs want. Demonstrating and burning things down, is not freedom to assemble, it is anarchy and sabotage. Publishing false news and promoting terrorism, is not freedom of press, it is terrorist propaganda. The soccer player incident you mentioned, has nothing to do with Mr. Sisi, but with lack of awareness that is so spread among Egyptians from all classes. It is also worth noting that the player is back on the team, and was not arrested nor “kidnapped,”. It is sad but true, as Egyptians say: “you are fishing in murky water” to achieve personal gains.

  • Al Masry

    I agree with your analysis based on realities; not wishful thinking. We are in war with regressive forces for honorable, modern life or the opposite. Western Democracy does not fit in our society for reasons we all know. It is a poison bait intended for us to swallow. No, thanks. Tahya Misr and down with regressive forces who hijacked Islam.

  • George

    Get a real job. Quit being a bum.

  • Minymina

    Wael Eskandar, you talk about lack of press freedom and oppression yet here you are with one of many articles criticising the regime.

    You’re so full of $h!t to the point where it’s not even funny.
    Stop labeling islamists as activists and STFU. You are well aware that Egypt is facing a war on terror one that if lost, results in Egypt becoming another Syria. Yet here you are criticising the crackdown on islamists as if they’re some sort of peaceful activists.

    I dare you to reply to my comment and have a debate.

    • George

      He will not dare reply to your comments because he is a two bit non stop completely intoxicated propagandist and pamphleterian. He has no real jobs other than ranting 24/7. Since he must spend to live it must be that someone is paying him to team up with the pollution brigade that graces DailyNewsEgypt.
      Best to just expose him which you are doing..

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