The people behind Egypt’s coup mock the pro-legitimacy supporters and their protests, calling them “foolish”. They claim that the thousands on the streets are misguided and will not achieve anything. The coup’s “road map”, they insist, is proceeding as planned; Al-Sisi is holding the reins; the government is doing its job; and the official institutions are going about their work as usual. The only party losing as a result of the protests, claims the coup leadership, are the supporters of legitimacy, who are losing the trust of the people and losing people to death, injury and detention.
The coup supporters also claim that the protests have lost momentum and that people have drifted away in despair as their leaders are either in prison or in hiding. They add that the leaders want to realise personal goals at the expense of the national interest without giving any thought to the bloodshed and suffering of the people.
Is this a true assessment? Have the protests really failed to achieve anything over the past 100+ days?
With a tight grip on media outlets since the first moments of their coup, the organisers have shut down the television stations supporting democracy and “militarised” the other stations and newspapers to spread their lies. They have promoted the coup as a popular move involving all of the people’s groups and denominations. They have also claimed that the anti-coup resistance movement is very weak and only represents one weakened political trend and will not survive long.
Protests against the coup are not restricted to Cairo or the major cities of Egypt. Led by members of the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council, as well as executives and parents of the martyrs, today the protests are held in villages and towns and are taking over streets and neighbourhoods. They vary from static protests to marches and even take place in railway stations. The people can see that they are taking place, contrary to what they are being fed by the coup media, which denies their existence and distorts their size and impact.
Those who believe that the actions of the legitimacy supporters have achieved nothing are mistaken. Suffice to say that they have belied the coup leadership’s claims that it was carried out on behalf of all Egyptians and has been accepted by everyone. The ongoing protests prove that the coup led by Al-Sisi and his men was done for a small group of Egyptians at the expense of the majority. Although the sacrifices have been enormous, the protesters believe that they are worth it for the sake of the country’s freedom and the dignity of the people, even though the army wants to take them back 60 years. The people who carried out the January 25 Revolution to regain their freedom and dignity will not accept injustice; their legitimate president, Dr Mohamed Morsi, said as much.
Thanks to the protests, which have been successful in convincing the world that the events of early July were indeed a coup, the “interim government” in Cairo has had to send delegations abroad to try to push their case. They haven’t succeeded, despite spending millions on PR advisers, and they meet pro-legitimacy demonstrations wherever they go.
It is true that some countries have sat on the fence due to their own interests, and others have backed the coup for the same reason. Many are anti-democracy and freedom because they fear that their own dictatorial regimes will be next to be overthrown by popular revolutions. The democracies which have condoned the coup are trying to strike a balance between their strategic and business interests and the democratic principles they espouse. Some have reconsidered their position as the protests continue in Egypt.
The claim that the “road map” is going ahead is misleading. Plans for constitutional amendments, a referendum and elections are confused and disorganised. Even though the status of the army and military trials were covered in the constitution that the coup has rejected, its leaders can’t agree on a replacement. The media charter that has been promised hasn’t even been drafted let alone agreed, and the Ministerial Cabinet hasn’t been able to hold any meetings at its normal headquarters despite massive fortifications and protection. The cabinet can’t do anything because the pro-coup media is so quick to criticise. The interim president cannot face the world as a representative of Egypt at the United Nations and whenever he wants to go abroad he can only go to countries supporting the coup.
Just as the coup cancelled the Constitution which was agreed by a majority of the people in a free referendum, amendments can be just as easily struck off. The people of Egypt will not accept agreements signed during this period of duress as they defend democracy and legitimacy.
The perseverance of the protesters has revealed the coup government’s inability to provide the people with basic services after violating their freedom and dignity and trying to divide them. The suffering of the ordinary Egyptians is no secret as the prices of basic goods and services soar and the economy crashes. The difference is emphasised by the World Bank report for the year to 30 June 2013, which shows that the economy was showing an upturn under President Mohamed Morsi.
As a new leadership has emerged to take the protests forward following the arrest of anti-coup politicians and activists, the difference between the true adherents of the January 25 Revolution and those who were simply there for the ride or more nefarious reasons has been marked. Women can participate in the current protest in safety, unlike what took place when thugs and thieves were also involved.
The protests provide hope for the hopeless and courage for those discouraged by the coup-led media. By utilising peaceful resistance tactics the National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy has stressed that it is anti-violence, giving demonstrators a new self-confidence to stand up to the coup.
This has also sent a strong message to the other Arab Spring countries where people long for freedom. It is no secret that the plot against the Tunisian revolution has fizzled out in the past few days because the plotters realise that they will face the same sort of resolute resistance. The plot against the Libyan revolution has also died down and we have seen the rebels pressuring the Americans, beginning with the Secretary of State, who accepted the coup in Egypt. With such perseverance we are confident that the coup will crumble and international and local pressure will be directed at the coup leaders and their supporters, rather than at the pro-legitimacy camp.
In short, we can say that the steadfastness of the protesters has, to-date, achieved the following: countered the promotion of the coup as a popular revolution; confused the coup organisers and put them on the defensive; revealed the coup government’s inability to manage and provide services to the people; provided alternative media reports regarding the pro-legitimacy movement; provided a glimmer of hope to those who have grown desperate and frustrated with the coup; provided a peaceful option for protest instead of armed resistance; proved that the people are leading the revolution and that they are able to produce field leaders in place of those arrested and persecuted; presented a model for serious protests free from harassment and theft; sacrificed for the sake of freedom; and provided support for other Arab Spring revolutions in confronting similar plots against them.
The revolution is still on-going and steadfastness is continuous; the hour of salvation is close and reconciliation initiatives are being proposed as a direct result. In order to achieve our desired outcomes in their totality, we need to show even more perseverance; we cannot be satisfied with partial solutions and temporary gains. We want a state of freedom and dignity; we want the restoration of legitimacy and democracy; we want a civilian, not military, state. This is the spirit of the January 25 Revolution and we will not settle for anything less.
The author is an Egyptian journalist. This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Marsadmasr on 22 October, 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.