There is a legend about a Viking leader and 11th century King of England who thought he was so invincible that he could even control the sea. The deluded King Canute had his throne taken to a beach and as he sat down he commanded the tide to turn back in order to stop the waves crashing onto his land. He got his feet wet. The first written account of this episode was provided by chronicler Henry of Huntingdon, who lived within 60 years of Canute’s death (1035 AD). 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.
It goes without saying that the modern-day King Canute of Egypt is none other than the former general who overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup last year. Sadly, there is nothing benign about General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi; his orders are backed up with bullets and brute force as we saw when more than 1,000 innocents were massacred in Rabaa Square. The killings were described by Human Rights Watch as the most “serious incident of mass unlawful killings” in modern Egyptian history.
Al-Sisi is, however, as deluded as King Canute; and while the old Viking leader eventually acknowledged the power of nature the general has yet to accept that the power of the Egyptian people is just as unstoppable as the sea that washed around Canute’s throne.
Egypt’s prisons are already bulging at the seams with Muslim Brotherhood supporters, journalists who merely told the truth and others who are outraged that their democracy has been stolen. Now hundreds, if not thousands more, swept up in Friday’s day of action, look set to join them.
According to the movement’s website the leadership “solemnly salutes this patriotic mobilisation to preserve the nation’s unique identity, for which the Egyptian people, including the Brotherhood, have long fought. Indeed, the nation’s identity is the source of its rejuvenation and the basis of its liberation.”
It is quite clear that there will be more mobilisations and more days of action to come until Al-Sisi’s military junta, its corrupt media and his cronies fall. Perhaps the most shameful of all in this cabal are the scholars for dollars who have sold their integrity by legitimising the killing of innocent women and girls, the destruction of mosques and burning of the Holy Qur’an.
Meanwhile Al-Sisi blames the violence on the Muslim Brotherhood much like a violent husband will accuse his battered wife of running into his fists. In truth, it doesn’t matter how many dissenters of all backgrounds he locks up (some of the non-Brotherhood leading lights of the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising are also behind bars) the people will continue to reclaim their revolution.
More nationwide rallies are expected in the coming weeks and months to topple the government by peaceful means. Despite unfounded accusations by the Egyptian authorities, the Muslim Brotherhood leadership has always insisted that supporters should only adopt peaceful resistance. It is these peaceful protests which will eventually topple the dictator Al-Sisi just as it did his ideological soul mate and predecessor Hosni Mubarak. The fact the current president’s supporters could only muster 20 people in Tahrir Square for a counter-demonstration after Friday prayers speaks volumes.
Even the mighty King Canute recognised defeat in the face of an unstoppable force. When it was obvious to him that his orders were being ignored by the sea, he pronounced: “Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless and there is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose Will heaven and earth and sea obey eternal laws.”
Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi still shows no signs of such enlightenment, wisdom or humility. Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly clear that his days are numbered. Who, though, will dare to tell him that he is not invincible and that the power of the people will eventually swamp him and his failing regime? The tide is turning for Egypt and its people.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.