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Regrettably I did know

May 14, 2014 at 8:34 am

A file photo dated November 30, 2013 shows Ahmed Maher (C) Head of April 6 Youth Movement outside Abdeen court after an arrest warrant was made for inciting protests against the military backed army in Cairo, Egypt. [Mohammed Elshamy – Anadolu Agency]

I did not comprehend the message well although it was repeated twice. The first time was around October 2013 when I suddenly found that a news report about my detention had spread across the world in a strange way. I was at home at the time having dinner and watching television. I was surprised to receive hundreds of calls from within as well as from outside Egypt asking me about the news of my detention.

I laughed at the time because of what I considered to be a naive report. Yet, I was taken by the swiftness of the spread of such news in that way. I kept denying that I was detained but regrettably I did not realise that the report was intended to feel my pulse.

The second time was in November 2013 just days before my incarceration. I was sitting with a friend when I was surprised to receive hundreds of calls to check on me. Some of the calls were from scores of newspapers and television channels who wanted to enquire about the authenticity of the news report. On that day, I also ridiculed the news but my friend alerted me that this was not the first time and that it meant that a certain party was feeling my pulse and gauging my reaction to the news of my detention. He believed this meant my detention was imminent.

The purpose at the time was to test the reaction in prelude to an imminent detention. Although some people were angry and some were disturbed, there were those who propagated the news through the media and the internet to say: that’s better, for he squeezed lemons during the presidential elections. This is despite the fact that those who were saying ‘better’ some of them did squeeze lemons during the elections of the people’s assembly in 2011.

I knew the scenario, regrettably, more than a year ago. In February 2013 I accidentally met with one of the princes of the people who gave me the glad tidings of a scenario that would involve the improvisation of violence and clashes and then a stream of blood and chaotic events so as to justify a take-over by the army. He then asked me: “Are you with us or not? We want 6 April to lead.” My answer was: “The scenario of violence and blood is inconsistent with our principles and our ideology. Also, the scenario of the return of the military to power is something we absolutely reject. Don’t you remember 2011?”

His reply was: “OK. But if you refuse to be with us, at least refrain from criticising the violence, the blood and the return of the military to power.”

In April 2013 I met accidentally with someone well connected to all the official departments and apparatuses. His talk was more like an advice and a warning. He said: “By next July (he meant 2013) there will be no 6 April and in particular there will be no Ahmad Maher. It is not sufficient that you reject Morsi or oppose the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. The forthcoming arrangement is that the army will be the one to hold power while you refuse and do not wish take part in the discussion. The people fear that you will still say down, down with the military rule. So, the arrangement is for you to disappear in the coming stage. You will have no voice, no one will hear you and no one will sympathise with you, and you in particular.” I smiled and reiterated to my interlocutor that the notion of rejecting the military state is not an option but a founding principle that can never be conceded. He said to me: “Anyway, you will be intensively tarnished in the coming period and more than anybody else. You will be subjected to character assassination and no one will listen to you.” I smiled and left.

During the period from 3 July until just before the mandate, and as soon as we started objecting to the measures and the violations and objecting to the idea of the mandate, a man came from the far end of town. He was an old friend who had moved to the camp of the authority. He warned me saying: “It is not permissible to object. We are in a war against terrorism. There is no such thing as human rights. We are in a permanent state of emergency and no opposition is permissible. He who is not with us is against us. Take care of yourself Ahmad because they are finished with you. Even the notion of ‘neither military nor Brotherhood’ is unacceptable.

I received an article several months ago inside prison authored by writer Bilal Alaa entitled “Freedom for the detainee we dislike”. The article opens with a discussion of the use of repression by communist regimes after communists seize power. It states that repression did not spare even the communists who kept silent regarding the silence of others in the beginning and that the experience of building repressive tools to repress the bourgeoisies will, with the passage of time, be extended to the communists who expressed disagreement in a single detail or whose loyalty is suspect.

The article revolves around the motion that whoever seizes power transforms into a person who encourages the repression of the other even if in the beginning such a person was a struggler. So, it is not something peculiar to communist regimes but it is to do with power in general.

How do strugglers turn into despots? And how do the security apparatuses that protect the regime turn into rabid instruments whose mission is to protect themselves only and end up devouring the entire state?

6. Do not expect (these instruments) to disrupt and disband a protest by the Islamists in the morning and throw flowers over a protest by the secularists in the evening. The writer talks also about the military liberals who ignore the values of liberalism such as the rejection of repression and murder and such as the right to demonstrate. Instead, you’ll find them supporting the repression and dragging along the roads of Islamists simply because they do not look like us. Then he goes on to talk about the rule of the military and when they detain our loved ones. This is despite the fact that the brutal authority is one and the same.

I want to conclude from the introduction I wrote and from the the article “Freedom for the detainee we dislike” that many liberal, revolutionary and youth elites have indeed fallen into the trap: the detainee who is not with us or whom we dislike or who is not part of us as a current deserves no freedom and it is permissible to inflict repression on him and to fabricate (charges) against him. “Better” … “He deserves it”. This reminds me of the preparation made by the security apparatuses for some persons in such a systematic fashion so as for some to say “better” when a test balloon is launched about their presumed detention. Only then, do the security people decide to arrest and repress because there are those who say “better”.

Even the solidarity expressed by some is selective. They say: “We shall express solidarity with such and such because they are ours and because they are with us in the campaign.” However, this or that may be labelled as a traitor and a lackey “with whom we shall show no solidarity”. Some people ignore the fact that silence toward the detention of those whom we dislike only opens the way before the repressive authority to persecute those we like. With the passage of time every one will suffer distortion, rumours and the “talk” said about whoever disagrees with the authority even in the most minute of details and not just about a principle. There is no protection from the wrath of the tyranny of those in power no matter how hypocritical or silent one happens to be and even if one pretends to know nothing.

Regrettably, I know this right from the start. In fact everyone knew this right from the start. It is true that I am now in prison because I refused and because I spoke about some of what I know. But every one else knows too.


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