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A Play in search of an audience

Egyptians take to the streets protesting against the harsh economic conditions imposed on them by the government [file photo]
Egyptians take to the streets protesting against the harsh economic conditions imposed on them by the government [File photo]

The play whose producers have been waiting for a long time to present to the whole world after several months of preparations was finally performed yesterday. This long period of time has been interspersed with serious events for each of those who were tempted by this play or taking a role in it. They were destined to imprisonment, including Sami Anan, former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and Colonel Ahmed Konsowa, or isolation and house arrest, just like Ahmed Shafiq, or facing the charges of indecent act such as the lawyer Khaled Ali!

The presidential elections in Egypt were announced months ago in all squares, streets, neighbourhoods and alleys of every Egyptian province through banners including the pictures of no one but the hero of the play. Simply, because there is no one else in the play but him, even the Extras disappeared. Since when did the Extras take part in the electoral farce, which no country in the world has witnessed before?!

It is a farce play in every sense of the word, for its director has forced shop owners and companies to lift more than one banner in support of the only hero or else the Tax Authority will be waiting for them and documents will come out of the drawers, and the fate of those whose documents come out of the drawers will become unknown! Ministries; public institutions and authorities in general have entered the electoral marathon, during which they competed to mobilise their staff for the ballot. They posted leaflets and used the carrot and stick approach to call staff to go to the electoral committees or else they will be held accountable. At the same time, staff were promised job benefits. Beheira province has gone too far with this strategy to bribe the villages and centres, which include the largest number of voters. It did this through a broadcast on local television.

The governor of Mersa Matruh promised free Umrah trips for 500 voters. The most ridiculous among those is the director of the school district in Faiyum province who decided to reward students who take part in the elections by adding ten grades to their final scores! Even Al-Azhar did not miss out; an administrative order was issued to the employees and all of its institutes to stop vacations during the presidential elections. The employees were urged to show up at the electoral committee’s centres, which Al-Azhar prepared for this purpose and appointed security staff to track them until their return, to make sure they have ink on their fingers to prove they have voted.

Read: Egypt’s delusionary democracy

The Imams of Al-Azhar competed with the priests of the church to label those boycotting the elections as atheists to the extent that one priest said that God chose Al-Sisi! This is an obvious and undeniable mix between religion and politics, as if we were in a theocratic state. You would feel puzzled by the silence of those degenerate elites who did not remain silent during the lone year in which President Mohamed Morsi ruled, and described his term as being characterised by religious fascism, which we did not actually witness. On the contrary, we had Al-Sisi saying: “We are fighting in Sinai for God.”

Sisi Era - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Sisi Era – Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

What was permitted in the one year that Egypt was ruled by civilian and not military rulers was freedom and those elites were the ones who enjoyed it the most, but they abused its blessings so God cursed them with fear that made them hide in their holes and remain silent!

Some of those elites, who supported the military rule, have received the blessings and appreciation along with their share of the cake.

People are being terrorised and intimidate through the use of an external danger, which is coming from everywhere. As a result, in order not to become like Syria and Iraq, we must participate in imaginary elections which are part of the farce that Egypt has experienced since the July 2013 coup!

Linking belly dancing and elections and establishing an intrinsic relationship between both are among the innovations of this obnoxious political game. During the 2014 elections, women and men danced in front of the electoral committees to the rhythm of “Teslam El-Ayadi” (Bless their hands). The same thing happened in these elections, as if it was a duplicated version of the 2014 election, in addition to the exploitation of the elderly, who showed up in the committees sitting in wheelchairs with the help of police officers. However, even this year, they brought an old lady, who is more than 100 years old in an ambulance to vote showing no respect for her age or situation. Taking a picture of her was what mattered the most!

Food was also distributed at election centres to encourage the masses to participate, while in other areas voters were given 50 Egyptian pounds ($2.83). All this in spite of the fact that the law prevents publicity around election centres, but when is the law enforced in Egypt?

Read: Egypt elections attempt to ‘legitimise dictatorial regime’, says ERC

In view of this comical scene, many political parties called for the elections to be boycotted. Even Al-Sisi called people to come out and vote and he leveraged all the states forces to bring people out on election day. He has returned the country to the era when presidents won 99 per cent of the votes.

The media machine has historically worked in his favour but the achievements that they are highlighting in their programmes and documentaries have not manifested on the ground and Egyptians are not benefiting from them.

All Egyptians can see is the deterioration of the political and economic situations. They are struggling to earn a living and support their families. They are living in dire conditions along with more than half of the country’s population, which is suffering from poverty and deprivation. Speaking at a Youth Forum early last year, Al-Sisi highlighted the situation of Egyptians saying: “So, nobody told you that you are extremely poor? Then let me tell you that we are very poor. Very poor!”

It is certain that the intelligence agencies concerned with monitoring the people’s views have informed him that citizens are not satisfied with his first term. During his televised interview, which was specifically prepared for the elections, he admitted that his popularity had declined, but of course he explained the difficult economic decisions that he had to take in the context of the economic reforms he intended to pursue for the sake of future generations. This might have caused him to fear the citizens’ unwillingness to participate in the elections, which made him panic and consequently mobilise all state institutions to support him and guarantee him an overwhelming victory.

The first and only time in which Egypt witnessed free and fair elections, during which millions of people went out on their own to freely elect a candidate from between 12 presidential hopefuls, was in 2012. At that time President Mohamed Morsi won and became the first elected civilian president in 7,000 years. That is why everyone at home and abroad conspired and carried out a coup against him and hindered the promising democratic experiment. Thus, the scene was taken back 60 years for us to witness that comic play. We really have become the laughing stock of the world!

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

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