Abu Seif - Egypt
A billion dollar question facing Egypt in particular and the whole world at large is – how long will a military dictator like El-Sisi be allowed to have a free hand to commit the murder of democratic spirit and aspiration of people of Egypt? He is committing the heinous murder of nascent democracy after toppling a democratically elected government and hijacking people’s dream that was so amply demonstrated through “Arab Spring”.
Now, Egypt has a temporal tyrant in the form of el-Sisi, a former army chief, forcing the gullible Egyptians to believe in his magic and relive the age-old “mother of the earth” fantasy in the new century world order.
El-Sisi is certainly one of the most brutal one of the modern 21st century dictators. He is the fourth one in the line of military dictators masquerading as Pharaohs that included Jamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.
What is the most unfortunate for Egypt is that within just four years what began at the Arab spring revolution in the early 2011, when people’s power succeeded in ending the three-decade long repressive dictatorial rule of Hosni Mubarak, ended so badly in the dark autumn of Rabaa and Nahda Square mass killings in July 2015. Nearly 1,100 unarmed peaceful protesters were killed at the order of el-Sisi. This criminal mass killing even surpassed Tiananmen Square Massacre in China.
What was fault of those unfortunate people? They were lamenting against the dusk of repression and dictatorship while they had aspired for the new dawn of democracy and freedom. They were protesting against the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected government of President Mohammed Morsi and demanding the end of this new repressive regime. Was it so wrong?
Whatever the fault of the Morsi government might have been, he had the public mandate, and it was working within the democratic framework through its political wing, Freedom and justice Party (FJP). There could have many democratic ways to challenge the alleged wrong doings of Morsi administration or the FJP or even show it down.
There can be no justification for overthrowing such a government through a military coup. But then a military coup knows no such reasoning and it is mostly and purely the outcome of a power lust of an army general. That is what el-Sisi did; taking full advantage of the first criminal opportunity that came his way in the form of some people’s uprising against the newly elected government of Mohammed Morsi. El-Sisi acted swiftly like a poisonous snake and bit the same person who made him defense minister. He ousted the Morsi government and took over its command in 2013. Like any other spineless dictator he also later got him elected as the President in the most unfair and farcical election in May 2014.
Now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is utilizing all his army training to bring military-like precision in targeting and torturing common people who try to rise against him or raise the voice of dissent. He has tightened his iron grip on Egyptian media and issuing decrees that could shame even medieval injustices.
Sisi has left perhaps the darkest trail of ruthless repression in the history of Egypt. Ever since the military coup of July 2013, his government’s repression and brutality have continued unabated. By an average estimate over 4000 people have been killed so far and more than 20,000 injured. Over 41,000 people have been arrested in a sweeping crackdown against activists, protesters, students and journalists, according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.
There is no limit to human rights violation during El-sisi regime in Egypt. Almost every day common people are put under some more repressive laws and voices of dissents are being silenced in the most brutal ways. Students and activists who try to protest are being summarily executed without any recourse to law and justice. Apparently, Muslim Brotherhood and its nationwide followers are the regime’s main targets and facing the worst brunt.
Muslim Brotherhood has asked all its followers to remain peaceful and non-violent. However, the new game-plan of El-Sisi seems to be to provoke Muslim Brotherhood’s followers to act violently so that he could easily find a justification to crack down on them with more violent forces. Is this a way to govern a nation?
Ironically, along with all these criminal violation of human rights, EL-Sisi has succeeded in projecting himself as a champion of growth and development and the leader of a bright new era in Egypt.
What is the most surprising is the fact that most outspoken champions of human rights in the west, who are normally so vocal against repressive regimes, are not only maintaining a grim inexplicable silence but also even going out of the way to support him. How can a sane sensible outside world support a ruthless military dictator?
According to Mohamed Lotfy, executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms: "It's probably the worst attack on basic freedoms Egypt has ever witnessed in the last three decades or so,"
There is nothing mysterious about el-Sisi. Like any common military dictator from Syria to North Korea, el-Sisi is busy passing strange laws and decrees. His selected “judicial” experts are drafting a new law to punish reporters with up to five years in jail and a $7,000 fine for covering the military without permission. There is no place for dissenting voices in the new regime. The new anti-protest law limits people’s rights to gather together or do a free assembly.
According to Human Rights Watch, recently El-Sisi placed public and vital facilities, such as, roads, bridges and gas pipelines, under military jurisdiction for the next two years and stipulated state prosecutors refer crimes at those sites to the military. That means civilians protesting in public places can be tried in military courts, where they is no guarantee of any due legal proceeding. Kangaroo justice is on.
Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division said, "Certainly things are worse than the better Mubarak years," adding, "Are they worse than the worst of Mubarak? I think they arguably are."
Heba Khalil, deputy director of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, pointing out a very interesting twist in the public psyche, said, "It isn't just that the state is being repressive, but many people think the state should be repressive at this stage." she said.
Who are these “many people”. Every Hitler has Nazis and Nazi sympathizers and every dictator know how to brainwash some people’s mind and to transport them to a false dreamland, el-Sisi is no exception.
El-Sisi is rather a past master in the art of befuddling people’s minds. He knows well where to use iron rod or rope and stick and where to use his sweet tongue.
The tragedy of Egypt is that ruthless dictators like el-Sisi have always trampled the democratic dreams and aspiration of common people under their feet. So long as the army is not brought under the civilian rule this will continue to happen and Egyptian dream of democratic governance will remain elusive.
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Rachael M. Rudolph joins Bryant Zhuhai as an Assistant Professor of Social Science in the fall term. Her research focuses on Sino-American relations, US-North Korean relations, strategic security in the Asia Pacific region, and transnational crime. She can be reached at: [email protected] M. Rudolph
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