Democracy a’ la SCAF

As I write these lines, members of the first “post-revolutionary” parliament are being sworn in. Most TV stations are calling it the “revolution’s parliament”. The process of democratic transition is almost complete. We should be seeing a new president being sworn in a six months or so, and we should be well on our way to becoming the largest democracy in the Arab world. The Islamists now dominate parliament, and that should take the sting out of their bitterness after decades of marginalization. A casual observer of international news would conclude that the world now is  safer and more stable, with freedom and justice for all. A cause for celebration? Not really.

We have endured decades of faux democracy and many of us are smelling the familiar stench of oppression in the air. I am not trying to imply here that the Islamists will be the new oppressors (although that is not entirely unlikely) or that Egypt is on its way to become another Iran, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Egypt is subject to a different set of dynamic forces that will push it along its own peculiar trajectory. Historical analogies are of little value in our current situation.

The ruling junta, or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) have made many statements where they declared that they have little interest in power. They often repeated that they would like to be honest custodians of democratic transition. Many believe that to be a lie.  Scratch a bit beneath the surface and  many unsavory facts start to ooze out:

  • There are over ten thousand Egyptians who are locked up in prison after  kangaroo (aka military) trials, while the ones involving Mubarak and his coterie are proceeding at a snail’s pace. Those thousands are placed in military prison facilities that are beyond dreadful.
  • Activist and groups the where at the forefront of the revolution are being targeted by SCAF. Some of the have been imprisoned, others “temporarily detained”.
  • Many of the families of the martyrs of the revolution are left without any form of support despite promises to the contrary. Many of the wounded have been denied proper medical care.
  • Many of the wounded and the families of the fallen have been subject to threats and have been offered “blood money” to stay hush about all the atrocities the have been committed.
  • SCAF had conducted a Goebbelsian propaganda war against protesters, shifting the blame on them for all the ills of the country and accusing them of being agents of unidentified foreign powers. 
  • Coptic Christians and have been subject to numerous attacks on their houses of worship. The perpetrators of the attacks were seldom prosecuted. Thirty protesters were killed during  a peaceful demonstration against this injustice. Furthermore, the SCAF controlled media incited violence against the Copts during the protests.
  • Protesters have been dragged into violent confrontation with security forces in November and December, resulting in the death of over fifty five and the maiming of countless hundreds.
  • All SCAF promises for a swift investigation of abuses by security forces since Feb 2011 have been reneged.
  • No serious effort has been put in chasing Egypt’s billions that have been siphoned by the ruling cleptocracy.
  • Thanks to SCAF appointments almost all the mayors of Egypt’s governorates are either ex-military or ex-police.
  • Over the past ten month many key position in various ministries have been taken up by ex-military men.
  • It is becoming patently obvious that SCAF never wants to be held accountable to the people. It will meddle with the process of “democratic transition” to achieve that end.
  • Electoral law prohibits the use of religious slogans in political campaigning, but the rules were flaunted by the Islamists with SCAF’s apparent blessing. The Islamists relied heavily on their platform in the mosques for political campaigning. This reeks of “special deals”.
  • In Feb 2011, SCAF promised a swift plan for full democratic transition with a deadline of six months. They are six months behind schedule and the date for “full” handover may even slip if not for the continued pressure for the protestors.
  • And Finally, members of parliament are swearing to uphold and protect an ambiguous constitution (there are doubts if it is SCAF’s constitutional declaration, the seemingly defunct/amended 1971 constitution, or the one they will help draft).

We will not settle for nothing but genuine democracy. We can not build the foundations of a new Egypt on lies and deception. The revolution continues.

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