The Strength of Protests and the Dearth of Leadership

Thousands gathered last night in Tahrir to expresses their anger and frustration with the verdict of life in prison for Mubarak and his henchman Habib El-Adly, the ex-minister of interior. Their anger was not driven so much by a desire to execute both men, but by the fact those who carried out the orders to kill the protesters are walking free due to lack of evidence. Their was plenty of outrage that the evidence that was supposed to implicate those murderers were tampered with my police. Imagine if you are being put on trial and asked to come forth with evidence that would implicate you! The setup is ludicrously abusrd and is truly symbolic of the messy transition to democracy that has been lead by the generals of the supreme council of the armed forces (SCAF). This transition has been at best circuitous and at worst truly retrograde.

There was more on the minds protesters in Tahrir last night than the verdict of Mubark’s trial. They have been reexamining what has happened since Feb 11, 2011 when Murbark formally stepped down and SCAF took over. The mood of  many who took part in the early days of revolution has been terribly somber since the outcome of the first round on presidential elections came out. Due to a divided revolutionary vote, the two remaining candidates in the presidential race were the least favored the majority. The democratic process had failed them. Many felt their revolutionary dreams are slipping away and they are being robbed of hope.

The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) saw in the popular expression of  discontent  an excellent opportunity to rejoin the revolutionary fold and secure support for their presidential candidate. The MB’s Morsi, declared that under his presidency a retrial will be carried out and new damning evidence will be presented. However, many of the revolutionaries still see the MB along with SCAF have been accomplices in setting Egypt on an incredibly tortuous  path of democratic transition possible. Here are but a few examples:

  • The MB threw their weight entirely behind seriously flawed constitutional amendments in March 2011.
  • The MB sat on their hands as 
    • thousands were being subject to military trial,
    • women protester were subject to forced virginity tests
    • killing and eye gouging were going on in and around Tahrir last November and December
  • The MB parliamentarians have 

The so called “liberal” and “leftist” parties have also done little in terms of pushing for laws that would satisfy the stated demands of the  revolution. However, their poor performance has drawn less popular ire than the Islamists since they are quite defuse and have little claim on real power. The revolution’s demands have yet to be convincingly adopted by any of the dominant political parties. 

During the first round of the presidential elections, there where three candidates who managed to attract the support of the revolutionary voters. The liberal-Islamist Abou El-Fetouh, the Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi, and the leftist Khalid Ali collectively received more votes than any of the two finalists.  Hence, many now feel cheated by the voting process and disappointed that those three did not combine forces.

The discontent is real and growing, as I write these lines throngs in Tahrir are calling for a five person presidential council that would include Morsi, Sabahi, Abou El-Fetouh, Khalid Ali, and El-Baradei. The governing laws of this council remain unclear, and it is really doubtful if Morsi will concede to those demands. We are at an impasse were no politician is willing to step-up propose a workable way out and lead.