Linda S. Heard
Life in the most populated Arab country is an emotional rollercoaster. Two revolutions in almost four years and a slew of both elected and caretaker leaderships have triggered instability. But serial surges of adrenaline have taken their toll. Most are aware that the promise of western-style democracy is unlikely to manifest within the foreseeable future, but they are fatigued by the highs and lows and have gained an understanding that security and stability must take priority over idealistic ambitions.
In the run-up to last Friday, tensions ran high as the country braced itself for an “Islamic Revolution” announced by the Salafist Front, a small splinter organisation discredited by the much larger Salafist Al Nour Party for its violent intentions. Naturally, the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed a terrorist organisation by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, jumped onto the bandwagon with alacrity.
Security forces went into action. Cars were checked on highways for suspicious occupants and cargo. Trains stopped running and army tanks stood sentinel around iconic squares while military helicopters patrolled overhead.
In the event, the ‘Islamic Revolution’ turned out to be a damp squib. Anti-government protests were no larger than those that take place in back alleyways on most Fridays. The real surprise was the reaction from Egyptians who took to the streets of Alexandria, Helwan, Mahalla, Fayoum, Banha and Imbaba with their wives and children, chanting “the people and the army one hand”. That said if you’d turned to Al Jazeera for news, you would have received a very different picture.
Indeed, Al Jazeera made no mention at all of festive government supporters or the fact that unidentified assailants killed a brigadier and two policemen, while another was fatally shot by snipers on an Alexandria rooftop. No mention, too, of youths in a suburb of Cairo filmed pointing particularly lethal-looking guns at army tanks, three of whom were arrested.
A deluded pro-Islamist British journalist/activist wrote likening events on Friday to the fate of the legendary King Canute who commanded the tide to turn back and got his feet wet. “I was reminded of it today, while watching Arab TV as waves and waves of Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters, as well as ordinary patriotic Egyptians, took to the streets to reclaim their revolution.” I’m pretty sure what channel she was watching. Never happened! The ‘ordinary patriotic Egyptians’ were hoisting posters of President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi and dancing to a popular song praising the army. Al Qahera Al Youm’s host, Amr Adeeb, joked that this was the quietest revolution in the history of mankind.
Just as people sighed with relief at this non-event, news broke the following morning that an appeals court found Hosni Mubarak, his aides and his sons not guilty of the charge of killing protestors in 2011 and were also acquitted of corruption charges. However, the 86-year-old former president will remain detained in a military hospital in connection with a three-year prison sentences he received for embezzlement of public funds.
Reactions are mixed. Many are indifferent. A minority is pleased. It’s believed most will be accepting because the climate is very different now than it was when he first appeared in the cage three years ago. As Ahram online points out, quoting an unnamed foreign ambassador, “Mubarak is no longer seen by the vast majority as ‘the enemy; he might still be very resented for one reason or the other, but he is no longer the enemy. The enemy now is the Muslim Brotherhood.” That’s true for the majority but the revolutionary youth are incensed.
Courtesy: Gulf News