Politics is everywhere, here in Cairo, Egypt. People are discussing politics while they are walking in the streets, smoking Shisha and drinking Turkish coffee in the local coffee shops. It sounds better compared to Mubarak regime with its emergence laws, police brutalities and unlimited integrations in the police stations. But still there are questions in the minds of the people; “Are we living in a time when Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis are trying to hijack January 25 Revolution?”, “Is Egypt going to become like Iran?”, “What is going to happen; Military coup? Toppling down Morsi as we did with Mubarak? Islamic Revolution?” at least in the short term it is impossible to answer all of these questions.
For the last couple of weeks Egypt has faced with serious conflicts within the country. Especially after Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Muhammad Morsi, took some serious decisions which intensify his power in 22nd of November. One reason why he took these decisions was that to unleash the deadlock in the writing of the new constitution where he ordered to constituent assembly to finish their job quickly. Immediately after the announcement and rise of opposition, assembly finished their work and now we are waiting for a referendum in December 15th. Secondly to change the place of General Prosecutor of Egypt who was appointed by Mubarak and also pardoned those who blamed to order the kill of hundreds of protesters during the January 25th revolution. However the article that created a lot of discussion was number 6 where he stated that “The President may take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution.”
Majority of the anti-Morsi groups set up their tents, into the new historical site of modern Egypt, Tahrir Square. The debates emerged immediately after people were back on the street blaming Morsi being new “Pharaoh” of Egypt. Basically, people in the squares are afraid, because they don’t know what is going to happen next with Morsi having such powers on his hands. Both sides, supporters of the president Morsi, (majority of them are Muslim Brotherhood members and Salafis) and anti-Morsi camp (most of the candidates in the first round presidential elections in 2012, Amr Musa, Mohammad Al Baradei, Hamden Sabbahi, with 36 other parties set up an organization called “National Front for Salvation of the Revolution”) started to blame each other being anti-revolutionary or try to “hijacking the revolution”. Suddenly, the discussion took a way of defending the country after a new dictator or those who try to change the system into Iranian way of ruling or one can say between Democrats and Conservatives. For those who study the politics of Turkey, this is not a far discussion.
I don’t believe this outrage is a result of President Morsis’ declaration in 22 November, but way beyond Democrats and Conservatives. This basically is anti-Muslim Brotherhood protest here one can easily see in the chants that crowds are saying; “Erhal (leave) Murshid” with implication of leader of Muslim Brotherhood or there is a huge sign that you can see in the entrance of Muhammad Mahmoud street which says; “Brotherhood cannot enter” or pictures of Gamal Abdel Nasser are rose in the protests in order to imply the suffering of Muslim Brotherhood members in Nasser era. In addition to all these more than 50 buildings of Freedom and Justice Party and Muslim Brotherhood are torched by anti Morsi protesters. It would be a better idea, in my opinion, for opposition to explain society in general Egypt, why they should be against the constitution that had been drafted that they are opposing.
If you talk with the people today, in the streets of Cairo or Alexandria, they would say Freedom and Justice Party and Muslim Brotherhood might handle the situation more peacefully. On the other hand also oppositional forces are coming from different background and ideologies and they have one goal that can be openly heard, being against Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, religiously oriented political parties and their domination of constitution. But beyond this goal there are also different ideas within the opposition. While I am writing this article, there are announcements from the opposition groups either to boycott or say “no” to the new constitution in referendum, this Saturday, December 15th.
Are we witnessing what had happened to Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria in 1991 or Welfare Party in Turkey in 1997? By looking to the history of those Islamic movements who won the fair elections they didn’t end up well. For the short term, three points; (1) Historical sociology of Egypt to explain how we came to this situation, (2) what are features of the groups within Egypt and (3) the result of referendum in Egypt, will be helpful for us to analyze the current situation that we are living in. We have to always keep the following in mind while watching Egypt from TV in order to avoid any misjudgment; Tahrir is important for Egypt, but Egypt is not just Tahrir…