Egyptians and the State

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The state constitutes a huge scope of the lives of Egyptian people, their interests and awareness, because their lives have been intertwined with the state since the dawn of history and human conscience. For them, the state stands as a synonym for stability, development, prosperity, justice and security. On the contrary, when a state is steeped in frailty and suffers the collapse of its institutions, security slackens, development comes to a halt, and injustice mounts.

While it is true that the state was unjust throughout its stages, and was despotic and tyrannical during a few of those stages, Egyptians continued to regard it as important. The later’s hope for the transformation of this despotic state into a democratic and just one characterized by a fair distribution of national wealth amongst its citizens, continues to exist.

On 30 June 2013, the main incentives behind millions of Egyptians taking to the streets was to reclaim this state and resurrect it’s institutions that fell prey to the “empowerment” discourse propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood. It was this discourse that paved the way for the domination of Brotherhood figures as opposed to others over the state’s main branches, as well as the hostility towards and opposition to the institutions that stood in the face of such hegemony and resisted it. The Egyptians had granted the MB an authorization in the presidential elections prior to 30 June, hoping the Egyptian state could become more democratic, less despotic, more just and less tyrannical. This authorization was influenced by the Brotherhood’s discourse which drew on the historical victimhood the group had suffered from, as well as their rhetoric regarding their relationship to God and their intention to spread justice between Egyptians.

Throughout a year under the Brotherhood’s rule, all Egyptians came to see the truth behind this forged discourse and its utter difference from reality. In opposition to what the group had preached for,  their rule saw the state going down the totalitarian route yet again, which was obvious in the catastrophic constitutional declaration and the marginalization of all political forces that had previously pledged support to the group during the renowned ‘Fairmont meeting’. In addition to that, they employed their militia and sought the help of their trained militant groups to crack down on protesters. They brushed aside the issue of the ‘just state’ and solely focused on realizing their goals as well as their aspired control over the Egyptian state.

The MB’s main concern was to hijack the position of Egypt’s ruling class prior to the 25 January 2011 Revolution and to claim this class’ privileges and powers. They allowed themselves what the Mubarak regime had once permitted to its adherents and supporters, as if no revolution had broken out and no people had protested against poverty, hunger and illness.

The Egyptians aim to consolidate the underpinnings of the state after having liberated it from the brotherhood’s grip. They want the institutions to regain their lost status but first and foremost, the Egyptians do not want a tyrannical state but rather a state governed by the rule of law and the concept of justice. A state governed by the constitution and rule of law, both of which should bring about political pluralism, public freedoms, citizen rights, and indict any violation to such rights. The Egyptians aspire to a state that does not move backward, or reclaim its despotism and totalitarian nature prior to the revolution. On the contrary, what they dream of is the modernization of the Egyptian state and for it to walk down a new route towards a secular democratic state that abides by the zeitgeist and international standards.

Abdel-Alim Mohamed is a counselor at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.