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Which deserves reform more in Egypt: the people or the government?

January 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

Our friend the poet and physician, Dr Ahmed Taymour, has written a poem characterised by the highest level of political romance, entitled “I want a president”. The poem demands a president with characteristics only present in angels. On the other hand, the constitution and the laws for electing the president are only concerned with a number of material and legal conditions that have nothing to do with culture and education, nor can they provide any indication of the values of the potential leader. Thirdly, the history of political thought is full of writings that focus on good governance, similar to the way the UN and its committees have focused on the specifications of sensible governance.

The truth is that this approach to governance reform and the requirements and conditions of a good ruler have proven unsuccessful for the simple reason that the people are the fertile ground from which leaders emerge. In the Egyptian case, the history of Egypt and its political experiences, at least since 1952, have proven what was said by the late President Anwar Sadat on 23 July 1952, that: “The people follow the religion of their kings”. This element of Egyptian history is not present in the history of democratic regimes because the ruler does not come from a different place. Therefore, the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was right when he said, “whomever rules over you will be as you are”, meaning that the ruler emerges from the people rather than the people choose their ruler per say, and this is another matter related to the manner in which the ruler rises to power.

In regards to Egyptian history, the Quran tells us in the story of Prophet Moses that in Egypt, the Pharaoh was a god, and that Moses’ dangerousness was his challenge to the political legitimacy of this god. Therefore, the Pharaoh continued to persecute Moses, and the Quran mentions clear accounts of this, most importantly the words of the Pharaoh’s magicians when they bewitched the eyes of the people and Moses’ stick blocked their magic. Based on their vast experience, the people realised that what Moses did was not magic, but a miracle from heaven. This drove them to declare their faith in Moses and Aaron’s lord, and Pharaoh responded to this by telling them that they were believing in Moses and Aaron’s lord before he gave them permission to, which is a clear indication that the king and lord controls faith and disbelief, as well as life and death. However, the Quran also highlights the fact that this Pharaoh, who dominated and overstepped his boundaries, governed a nation who enjoyed this subjection because of their ignorance and their full reliance on this alleged god in all religious and life matters. As the Quran says: “Thus he (the Pharaoh) befooled and misled his people, and they obeyed him.” The relationship between misleading and obedience is a historical relationship, because Egypt’s ruler cannot convince his people unless he first misleads and enslaves them, which can only happen if he disables their minds and culture, as well as reverses their conception of right and wrong. This is the only way the Egyptian rulers, until this day, have been able to dominate the people, and this will continue unless the people are educated and realise that they must step up and choose their leaders, as well as watch them and judge their goodness or corruptness based on clear criteria.

Therefore, I believe that the judgement employed when setting the conditions for the ruler, the system of governance, and other judgements made in the Egyptian constitutions did not take into consideration that it was the people who governed, and this is the greatest proof that the Egyptians who have taken on this task do not want a real democracy, because a democracy is not a theoretical model of a governing system and constitutions are not developed in order for their provisions to be disregarded. Moreover, the true protector of democracies are not the rulers, but the people, so if the people are unaware of what the ruler is doing in regards to the constitution, and if they believe that constitutions are a craft only mastered by those with personal interests, using political and unethical tricks, and that the judiciary is an aristocratic body and cannot be understood by the people, then how can they create a democratic system that is based on the people holding the rulers accountable, after choosing them? How to make the governors accountable after they have been chosen? The ability to screen and select, and then the ability for accountability are the focus of the democratic system.

I also bear witness that the political and cultural elites in Egypt have been involved in political hypocrisy against the Egyptian people, denying them from filling their stomachs and brainwashing them, so how can people with hungry stomachs and empty minds and cultures establish a democracy and distinguish between good and bad candidates?

For all of these reasons, I hope that the reformers, writers, and officials work towards reforming the citizens, their financial, intellectual, and mental conditions, their food, clothing, education, culture, media, and health in order to say that dignity has been provided, because announcing that dignity is a goal that has been achieved cannot be accurate unless the elements of dignity are provided. There is no dignity for the hungry, no dignity for the illiterate, no dignity to those who have lost their minds due to their inability to cope with the shameful reality, no dignity to the oppressed, and no dignity to the sick. Therefore, it is clear that the 25 January slogans will not be realised with false statements, and that Egypt and the Egyptians must launch a great revolution against themselves in order to translate the 25 January Revolution’s slogans into reality; we must all change ourselves and demand that the standards of choosing a government are based on those that feed the stomach and mind. We do not care about the glamorous programmes and false promises, nor do we care about who does the job. My despair has even reached the point that I have now embraced the teachings of the famous Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who once said, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice.” In our case, the mice are need, oppression, and the absence of mind, whereas the cats are the knights who are out of sight, behind the clouds. I urge them to come out from behind the clouds to promote this civil message.

Egypt cannot be resurrected unless our citizens are reformed. Do not believe the philosopher who once told us, to make us accept humiliation and oppression, that the freedom of the country is a priority over the freedom of its citizens; there is no honour for a country whose ruler oppresses its people.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.