Where are the politicians?

We marched to Tahrir by the hundreds of thousands on the 25th of January, then we marched again on the 27th, and we marched yet again on the 3rd of February. In all these marches we chanted with all the strength we can muster “down! down! with military rule!” (yasqot!  yasqot! hokm el-askr!). But no one in a decision making capacity seems to be listening. 

Many protesters now believe that the standard response of those in power to any threat is to engineer a national tragedy. This is seen a part of pattern that has been going on for while now and the football massacre in Port Said is but the latest. Egyptian have plenty to be angry about and the want to bring down those who are ultimately responsible for their suffering, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

A day prior to the Port Said massacre, thousands marched to parliament demanding that their elected officials take over control of the country and call for an immediate presidential elections. Those protesters were labeled as vandals by the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The claimed, that protestants  were out to destroy the “revolution’s parliament” and are enemies to the “principles of the revolution”. Hundreds of MB youth stood guard (some even carrying tasers) to “protect” parliament and though there were many injuries, it could have been much worse. The protester are still trying to be as no violent as humanly possible within a self-organized and leaderless group. Seeking to profit from the tragedy, the MB issued a statement  about the Port Said massacre linking it to the march to parliament, as part of an “invisible” plan to destroy the state.

Since the 2nd of February many have gathered in front of the fortress like building of the ministry of interior (MOI) and started pelting it with stones. The MOI is now seen by many as the SCAF’s newly refurbished instrument of repression. There actions, or lack thereof, were the cause of the Port Said massacre. It is infuriating that not a single MOI official has been convicted for the death of at least two thousand Egyptians and injury of innumerable thousands during last year’s protests. Also since Mubarak’s exit, many more have died, lost their eyes, female protesters have been subject to horrific abuses and forced virginity tests, and sixteen thousand Egyptian lie in prison after being subject to summary military “justice”.

No one has been held responsible, no one!

SCAF generals are only too happy to continuously utter nonsense about the foreign evil plans, invisible hands, and sinister third parties. The Islamists seem to have caught the bug too. As I write this post,the toll of those injured in the past couple of days has reached 2532, and at least 10 have been confirmed dead throughout the country. 

Sadly, many western commentators are now seeing the protesters as a violent and angry rabble. The fact that they are angry is undeniable, their violence has to be put however in the context of their frustrations. What should be surprising is not the sad descent into violence, but how relatively restrained that descent is. The protesters try their best to protect public and private property, they even protect MOI soldiers who sometimes get stranded in their midst. Although the country is awash with guns, their means of violence has been of the most primitive kind. 

If the Islamist lead parliament does not take concrete measures to respond to the people’s demands and pains, then it will a partner in blood in what could unfold to be a very violent turn of events for the Egyptian revolution. Their talk of fact finding committees and assorted nonsense of putting the minister of interior on trial no longer cuts it with the people. We have had a fact finding committee and a trial for Mubarak and the ex-minster of interior running for over a year now. The parliament must be seen as agents of rapid change to civilian rule. It must grease the rusty wheels of justice. If it does not act quickly, it might spur a disillusionment with the whole democratic process. At this critical juncture the people are asking, “where are the damn politicians?”

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