For the sake of argument I will assume that Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi actually obtained on that abominable day in July 2013 what he described as a mandate to combat “potential violence and terrorism.” I will overlook the fact that what happened next in Egypt was and remains a political farce that has no place in respectable politics and belongs solely in the imagination of tyrants. Despite this, let us agree that Al-Sisi offered the people protection, food and drink, as well as security, safety and prosperity, and that the people agreed, rejoiced and sang, telling him to carry on.
What has happened four years down the line from that accursed mandate? Terrorism is rife, blood is spilled without accountability and violence has become the only language and currency circulating amongst the Egyptian people. After all of this, Al-Sisi’s government is now asking the people to protect the police and army from terrorism; note: “terrorism”, not “potential terrorism”, Al-Sisi’s phrase at the beginning of his term in office.
When the government asks the people to protect its brutally oppressive institutions from terrorism, then we can do nothing but deduce that the said government has decided to relinquish the mandate it obtained to protect the people. It is announcing loud and clear that it is unable to do what it claimed it would do; it is now at an even more meaningless and absurd stage. Al-Sisi is volunteering to mandate the people in order to force the duty of protection upon them, protecting his government’s tyranny and brutality from terrorism. In the meantime, the government’s media mouthpieces accuse the people of laxity and a failure to defend tyranny and protect Al-Sisi and his ilk from violence and terrorism; media idiocy even challenges the people’s sense of nationalism.
It would have been possible to sympathise to some degree had the people not suffered more than the government, and at the hands of the government. They have found themselves, in many instances, facing a twin assault at the hands of the government institutions that they are now urged to protect, as well as from the terrorists.
Read: Sisi’s terrorism
Is it possible to classify the brutal campaign against the inhabitants of Al-Warraq Island in Greater Cairo, which led to the martyrdom of a citizen defending his land and home, as anything other than terrorism? The security forces seized the island and displaced its residents in order to sell the land to Arab investors. This was reminiscent of the brutality of the army against the inhabitants of Al-Qursayah Island in the heart of the Nile. During a five year battle between 2007 and 2012 much blood was shed and families were displaced in order for the military to feed its growing appetite for taking and selling all worthwhile investment land.
There is a fundamental difference between Al-Qursayah and Al-Warraq. With the former, a coalition was formed within civil society; human rights groups and the media did not abandon the island’s people to the terrorism and oppression of the army. There were popular solidarity campaigns, forums, seminars, conferences, defence fronts and public figures staging sit-ins against their displacement.
The current government in Cairo is no less thirsty for lining the pockets of its officials, but there is no defence coalition for the people of Al-Warraq Island. Al-Sisi’s government treats Egyptian citizens as its enemies. It is no surprise, therefore, that we are witnessing scenes similar to the transfer of the people in the occupied Palestinian territories. In the twisted logic that rules in Egypt today, those who gave in and sold the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia are regarded as bold and brave. The government is now fighting the battle of Al-Warraq Island in order to seize it from its inhabitants, down to the last citizen defending their land.
With all of this criminal brutality by official institutions which are meant to protect the people of Egypt, the government is continuing to blackmail them; ordinary people are being oppressed and their existence is under threat while the government uses “terrorism” as a justification and bogey to frighten the people into submission. Hence, citizens are required to defend the authority that oppresses, humiliates and crushes them and then sells their land for the benefit of corrupt officials. They are required to defend the government against the terrorism created and invited through the door by the same authority so that officials and terrorists alike can devour the people and the country.
So-called terrorism does not build its camps in caves and mountains; it comes out of the hearts of those who have lost all hope in justice and those who claim to uphold it.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.