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Rabaa Al-Adawiyya provides an opportunity for real and lasting change

August 29, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Smoke rises at Rabaa al-Adawiyya square after Egyptian police attacked protesters in Cairo, Egypt on 14 August 2013 [File Photo Ahmed Asad/Apaimages]

The Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square massacre was evidence of the people’s sacrifice for the sake of regaining their dignity. However, today we can take a step back from our annual mourning to be more honest and frank with ourselves and try to determine where we are six years after the massacre, which shifted the battle from the political arena to one of distinguishing right from wrong, and symbolises the blood shed by ordinary Arabs at the hands of their government institutions.

What happened in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square on 14 August 2013 may or may not be the massacre of the century; regardless, words alone cannot convey the pain and the severity of the crimes committed by Egypt’s security forces on that day. We need to move forward, though, because the struggle has moved to another phase, with the Sisi regime unable to prove its legitimacy due to the crime that was the Rabaa massacre, and a nation which has been stripped of its ability to express opinions, never mind rise up against injustice.

Neither I, nor anyone else needs to prove that the Islamists have sacrificed more for the sake of Egypt than anyone else; it is indisputable, although I do believe that the need for a healing process is a national duty. I do feel the need, however, to point out that the sacrifices made by the Islamists are greater than the negatives of their time in office. We must remove ourselves from such arguments and work to mobilise the masses, who have surrendered to the situation after receiving the biggest blow in their history.

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre

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The greatest testament to this anniversary is its acknowledgement by those opposed to the 2013 military coup in Egypt, alongside widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of the exiled opposition, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood. Nevertheless, we must not waste time on the blame game, in case we blame the victims as well as the villains.

In fact, there are no victims; there were only individuals who sacrificed themselves for the sake of freedom and who, along with the field commanders in Rabaa and Al-Nahda Squares, did not recognise the extent of the danger and imagine the degree of criminality that could occur. No one thought that Egyptian security forces could or would turn their guns on their fellow citizens.

Now we must extract ourselves from the circle of grief and form an opposition front that is more dynamic in dealing with events. This must include the youth, who have matured thanks to the challenges faced, but not those who were involved in previous events, whether from the regime or the opposition, although perhaps they can take on advisory roles.

The Islamic movement, at the heart of which is the Muslim Brotherhood, is not only required to provide a vision to solve the issues that are the reality for Egyptians today, but also to reposition itself and modifying its approach according to regional and international circumstances in order to bring about change. Such modifications should not be based on the opposition leadership and the masses, but on restoring harmony between people and rebuilding the country together. Sociological, psychological and philosophical studies should be prepared and presented at an inclusive conference for all parties across the political spectrum. The youth and new leaderships should present their plans to manage the political struggle in the next phase, while the movement should concede its leadership role. We need a new entity which brings everyone together for the sake of filling the political vacuum.

This cannot be achieved unless the Islamic movement rebuilds its institutions abroad and conducts an objective assessment of its management of the human rights, political and media issues throughout the previous and current phases. There is no shame in the movement’s leaders talking openly about past mistakes; the public want openness and transparency, on the basis of which it can present its plan for the future. The partial successes in neighbouring countries such as Tunisia, Sudan and Algeria, should be the incentive to regain the spirit of the masses and try to reproduce their mobilisation for the benefit of society as a whole.

The latest anniversary of the Rabaa Al-Adawiyya massacre provides us with an opportunity for real and lasting change. Let’s not waste it.

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