By Abdel Latif el-Menawy
5 July 2013
When I would watch TV and see the faces of those who ruled Egypt for a year, I used to feel they were unrecognizable. Indeed they were Egyptian, but they changed where they believed they belong. They altered the order of their priorities to exclude us all and take the country as their own gain to achieve their own goals. They aimed to fulfill their own dreams where the entire country, with its history, turns into an Islamic state. This is why their facial features changed, or this is what I at least felt. And because I clearly saw this right away, I was possessed by this continuous feeling that I am alienated from them although I had friends from among them. These friends however had decided that their affiliation with the Brotherhood is more important than friendship.
This didn't end here. The Brotherhood launched a real influential attempt to carve out features of the Egyptian character. It began imposing a new reality with different features. I think this metaphor is the most expressive term of the feeling Egyptians have. It partially explains this huge number of Egyptians who decided to take to the streets to protect their features from distortion that the Brotherhood began but had no time to implement.
Patient yet Impatient Egyptians
The current famous Egyptian saying now is "stubbornness yields infidelity." It's true. The Brotherhood has in fact succeeded in altering old features in the Egyptian character. Egyptians don't easily revolt and they are very patient with their rulers and impatient while protesting. But because stubbornness yields infidelity, the Brotherhood, through its stubbornness and insistence to deny reality, has managed to yield real infinite anger within the Egyptians. So the group pushed Egyptians to disbelieve them and to disbelieve their governance and their man at the presidential palace. This disbelief in the system and the Brotherhood changed the Egyptian's character and so they revolted quickly and continued in the revolution against the Brotherhood announcing his disbelief in it. The Egyptians did not leave the street until this group and its president were defeated and until the Egyptians restored their original features.
The Egyptians, except a few, took to the streets and summoned the only institution capable of acting during this phase. In fact, it's the only institution that relatively survived the Brotherhood’s moves. This institution, the army, was capable of restoring its position among Egyptians and even among those who chanted against it in squares few months ago. Some remained suspicious of the army's stance especially when considering the wound that hasn't healed yet, as plenty of Egyptians felt that the former military council abandoned them by striking a deal with the Brotherhood. But since the only option was to have faith in the army, they overcame their feelings of suspicion and kept waiting for the moment at which the army announces that it's once again biased towards the people. The army did not disappoint the millions who took to the streets in search of their hijacked country.
I never doubted the army's stance at all. I had great confidence in its current leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. There have been many questions regarding him and there have also been plenty of suspicions regarding his affiliations. But my response to these questions and suspicions was that this man is religious, just like many Egyptians are, but he only belongs to this country and to its national institution.
What I sensed at the early stages is that Sissi's real belonging is to the country and to the army. This is why what Sissi mentioned in his statement regarding meeting the call of millions of Egyptians is a true expression that clears the army of coup suspicions.
Was It A Coup?
But the U.S. and some of its followers in Europe insisted from the very first moment to describe the Egyptians' revolt as a coup. This weird stance may be understood and expected from America but it's relatively surprising when it comes from a country like Britain. The American administration which seemed confused regarding what was happening in Egypt reflected this confusion via its officials' statements. And they were possessed by a sense of failure. The Americans did not expect that what happened would happen and they did not wish for it to happen either. A friend of mine met with American ambassador Anne Patterson two days before June 30. He asked her about her estimations regarding the protests' results and whether these protests will topple Mursi or not. Her response was confident and superior, as my friend described, as she spoke in her obviously American accent and said: This is something that won't happen.
But what happened on the ground shocked the Americans because the Egyptians destroyed the project that the U.S. had adopted and supported - the project of governance through some political Muslim groups which are ready to completely cooperate with them (the Americans) at any expense after they had convinced them that they are the only organized group capable of running the country.
The surprise of the Brotherhood's fall in Egypt angered them and confused them. So accusations that the army staged a coup against legitimacy and against the "first elected president" were immediately made. And they considered that what happened was an act against the democratic path. It's as if they didn't see millions of Egyptians out protesting on Egypt's streets. It's as if they were incapable of seeing the Al-Azhar sheikh, the Coptic Pope, the most prominent opposition leaders and youth leaders who led the rebellion announcing their agreement over the roadmap which Sissi suggested to express the will of the people who occupied Egypt's squares and streets. They didn't desire to hear Sissi's confirmation that the army is keen not to engage in politics.
I don't think that this insistence to deny and hint to cut off aid serves America's image well. As for Britain, which supposedly has a deeper understanding of Middle Eastern affairs due to historical and geographical reasons, its stance only falls against its interest and against its image on the Arab and Egyptian streets?
When I heard the national anthem inside the Supreme Constitutional Court as the interim president was sworn in, I regained an old feeling I thought I had lost.
Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of "Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak," a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate.