Monday, December 17, 2012

On the constitution and political burning practice in Egypt

I was out and about Cairo in the last few days and this is a report on what I have witnessed in the voting polls and locations I visited yesterday in different districts of Cairo 
( Abbaseya- Al Zaitoon- Saray Al Kobba- Tahrir square anti-Morsi anti-Muslim Brotherhood camp- Hazem Abu Ismail revolutionary Islamist group Hazemon protest and march that took place Sat late at night ).

I was out there with 2 Spanish journalists all day in order to do several radio reports for a Spanish station in Barcelona and also to see for myself how things looked like away from the drama that's taking place online. I wasn't so excited about the referendum or anything else but after what I have seen I'm glad I was out to see what I've seen.

Before the judgments start this is only a personal account for a random group of people I talked to and the few places I've visited. It's not a political analysis to the situation and it doesn't necessarily reflect on the whole city of Cairo or the whole country. It's just one random Egyptian girl from Abbaseya who happened to speak some English speaking her mind on her blog.

For those who're curious to know my stance, I still hold the position of abstention from voting in any electoral process taking place in this country and my opinions about the constitution's draft, the referendum and everything else is only mine. 

Outside of the polls: Some observations

1- From early in the morning at around 9 am there were already long lines of people waiting outside of the schools where they're supposed to vote. I noticed that the majority of people who showed up and were standing in the lines to vote from early in the morning were elderly people, some were barely able to walk with their sons and with the aid of passerby but they're so willing to participate.

2- Overall the sentiment was sad regardless of the big numbers and turn out, it was very different compared to other referendums and elections. People in general seemed very angry and depressed, and many showed hostility towards my attempts to get interviews wondering about my point of asking them. On the other hand some others were very welcoming, kind and very willing to help and talk.

3- Eventually and after many trials I managed to get interviews and talk to elderly men, male and female young people, mothers with their kids who were working or housewives, and students (Whether in the polls or in Tahrir square or the protest that happened at night). 

4- Unfortunately, all the Christians I tried to speak to refused to talk to me at all and showed so much anger. The only 3 female Christians who talked a little though took all their hatred, frustration and anger from the MB and Islamists in general on me (assuming that I'm an under cover Muslim Brotherhood from my seemingly conservative look). 

5- The opinions and positions of people (Yes or No, and boycott) were very variable, with different justification, and some were very surprising to me.

Some were excited and optimistic, some said we know our votes don't matter but we are voting because it's a national duty and we want the country to move on, may be voting will do this. 2 old men actually cried over Egypt and the situation in Egypt while giving me interviews and expressed so much sadness about the whole thing.

*Those who said yes mainly argued that they believe we can do changes in the future if we want to change what we don't like in the constitution, they want a constitution as soon as possible and waiting for more 8 months or so isn't suitable for the current economical and political situation of the country. Some said they liked what they read in the constitution and they don't understand why the elite are making so much disputes over it. Most of the people I talked to voted yes but that was random of course.

*As for the ones who said no, some argued that they don't want to compromise on the sacrifices of  the martyrs and the price we paid for the revolution, others said that many articles in the constitution will make a new dictator out of Morsi, and others said that they don't trust the Muslim Brotherhood anymore that's why they won't trust their constitution and what it might bring in the future. 

*Those who boycotted the referendum ( talked to some in Tahrir and some others in Hazemon march) mostly said they don't trust the whole process anymore especially after what they've seen from the Muslim Brotherhood. Some said that it's yet another choosing between bad and worse kind of a position that they didn't want to be forced on.

On burning stuff during political conflicts: 

I posted this on facebook 8th of December 2012 and I didn't know I will need to use it again:"I'm trying really hard to understand the logic of folks who support and/or endorse the burning of the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood whether activists in Egypt or abroad.
Especially the ones who brag all the time about the peaceful revolution and how violence of all sorts is not acceptable in the struggle of the people no matter how much we disagree with other factions in the political sphere.

Imagine these scenarios taking place:

1- Members of Occupy Wall street going around attacking/burning down the headquarters of the democratic or republican party in the states.

2- Members of the Muslim Brotherhood going around attacking/burning down headquarters of the groups you support here in Egypt such as the April 6 movement or the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists.

Would you have the same enthusiasm/excitement in sharing the videos and pictures about this or supporting such moves if it was a different situation from a party you don't like?"
Why the same action (Let it be physically attacking someone with a different political stance or ideology or burning down their headquarters) is being looked at, reported, talked about and reacted upon in a different way? 

Isn't all the violent acts against other factions wrong such as killing, physical attacks, burning and destroying property?

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