My first question is directed at the politicians who kept silent about the human rights violations that occurred after July 3, 2013, and who forgot the talk about the principles of transitional justice and accountability for those involved in the violations, as well as reforming the security agencies and the rights of the martyrs.
However, when the practices of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, extraordinary measures and repression violate those belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood in favour of youth movements not affiliated with the religious group and those whose only agenda is democracy and are impossible to label as allies of the Brotherhood, or if the actions benefit the political agenda of presidential or parliamentary elections that they wish to participate in, the questions is: Do you believe that silence and the employment of double standards when dealing with violations of rights and freedoms, and seeking to be at the forefront of the defence of democracy for electoral purposes does not greatly limit your moral, humanitarian and political credibility?
My second question is aimed at the writers, politicians and journalists who participated or supported the post-July 3, 2013, authority and who have contributed over the past months to the passing of repressive laws, such as the protest law, in various manners. They also contributed to passing a constitutional document that places the military institution as a state above the state and which neglects the issue of transitional justice and allows for civilians to be tried in military courts. However, they are now feeding us sweet talk about building a democracy, guarantees of presidential and parliamentary elections and Egypt’s required openness for democracy.
Don’t you see that the laws and constitutional provisions that you passed leave the citizens out of public affairs (protest laws) and prevent elected authorities from controlling the military, as well as reduce the chances of developing a real system of transitional justice, all of which is necessary for building a democracy, the path to democratic transformation and competitive elections that push Egypt forward?
As for the third question, it is directed at the intellectuals and professors of political science who, in the context of supporting Defence Minister Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s potential candidacy, are promoting an opinion that can be summed up as military officials have and are running for presidency in democratic countries and are using the examples of Charles de Gaulle in France and Dwight Eisenhower in the United States (in the second half of the twentieth century), who both have a military background, to suggest that Egypt is at a stage where a military background does not conflict with presidency in terms of building a democracy.
My question to them is: How can you ignore the fact that the nomination of military officials in stable democracies is radically different than them being nominated in a country like Egypt, where the military institution is not subject to the control of elected civilian authorities, neither regarding legislation nor their budgets (according to the current constitutional document), which is the case in appointing the Egyptian Defence Minister? How can you overlook the weakness in the structure of the Egyptian state’s civilian institutions in comparison to the dominance of the military-security institution? How can professors of political science not notice that the presidency of military officials, in light of the situation of Egyptian state politics and society, will only grow worse by the imbalance between the civilian components and military security components?
The fourth question is to the writers, politicians and journalists who supported the intervention of the military in political life on July 3, 2013, and possibly supported the “popular mandate” to confront terrorism and violence, then gradually re-evaluated matters and backed down from supporting the military’s political role and started to prefer a civilian president, or are now trying to find ways to establish a civilian state in light of a constitution that gives the army exceptional treatment.
Don’t you think that your support for the intervention of the military in July 2013 would have inevitably led to the current developments, i.e. the potential candidacy and presidency of the defence minister and the establishment of an exceptional status for the military? Don’t you realise that the disruption of the democratic path, the dominance of the military security component and the justification of violating rights and freedoms under the pretext of combatting terrorism and violence can only be alternated with respect for the law and for the rights and freedoms of the people and can only produce sharp declines in the roles and effectiveness of the civilian political elite and a decline in people’s confidence in this elite’s public figures?
These questions are meant for reflection, consideration and self- criticism for all that has been addressed,and are not being asked out of condescension on my part.
This article is a translation of the Arabic text published by Shorouk newspaper on 26 February, 2014.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.