Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1152, 13 - 19 June 2013
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1152, 13 - 19 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

Social media

Is rebelling against the state a crime?

Mass protests to be organised by the opposition on 30 June have been dominating the debates among Egyptians on social networks over the past week. Many people are switching their profile picture for the Tamarod, or rebel, campaign slogan announcing they have signed the campaign’s petition that aims to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi. Islamist supporters on Facebook and Twitter describe the campaign as illegitimate and whose goal is to “destroy” Egypt and divide Egyptians.
Mona Abdel-Hamid wrote in her Facebook account “after I spent more than an hour in the gas station, two hours going home from work, and three hours without electricity, I think that’s enough to make me sign Tamarod.”
Abdel-Hamid said she revolted against Mubarak because of the inhuman living standards in Egypt and that she was expecting President Morsi to change things around.
Ayman Mounir not only signed Tamarod but is helping the campaign by collecting signatures from his neighbours.
“I think I can do something to help the Egyptian people by changing this president. Rebelling against him and his Muslim Brotherhood is the only solution,” Mounir said.
But Moetaz Al-Naggar decried Tamarod as the opposition tool to destroy the country and divide Egyptians.
“People who are revolting against legitimacy and democracy are the most dangerous enemy to the stability and prosperity of this country. They should be prosecuted,” Al-Naggar said.
Mustafa Saad agreed, saying he had no problem with peaceful protests but that mobilising people to revolt against a democratically elected president “is a crime in any country”.

 

Democracy does not only mean elections

In his blog, “An Arab Citizen”, Bassem Sabri argues that typical democratic systems across the world are not able to cope with the change in voter mentality.
“It is never too soon to draw perhaps premature conclusions, and I am not one to shy away from such an act. Having been deeply engrossed in Egypt’s political conflict and now as we observe and attempt to analyse the protests in Turkey, one can find one important parallel between both: there is a mounting feeling by a significant portion of the population that one political side is becoming too domineering, even if often through the polarising usage of technically legitimate political and legislative means.
In Egypt, a rising sentiment is that the Brotherhood is increasingly power hungry and monopolistic, and cares less and less about dissenting opinion (even from other Islamists, as evident by the rift with once-ally Salafist Nour Party). The sentiment continues that the Brotherhood is perhaps rightly too confident with its deep Islamic liberal polarisation, its dedicated base and incomparable eight decade-old electoral and organisational machines, all of which are likely capable of substantially winning it any elections being held despite the mounting public disapproval and anger against it. In Turkey, [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the AKP’s hold on parliament has been growing with every successive elections, their popularity theoretically stronger than ever, and now they feel perhaps more comfortable in being more unilateral and swift in their political agenda (in addition to the increasing crackdown on dissenting journalism).
So what do anti-government protesters in Egypt and Turkey want and express? Well, many things, some are perhaps legitimate, some perhaps more towards the hyperbolic. But, like I said, one of the themes I feel has been pervasive in both countries is the demand for a more inclusive and widely-consultative democracy, and that a simple majority cannot just have its way, whether in terms of policies or overall national vision. This appears to be what Turkish President Abdullah Gül understood when he said on Monday that the “the messages [...] have been received”, and that “democracy does not only mean elections.” However, according to Turkish journalists on social media, Prime Minister Erdogan said he wasn’t sure what message the president thinks he has received, likely raising the ire of protesters. On the other hand, Egypt’s President Morsi and the Brotherhood seem to be getting the opposite message altogether from repeated protests, so perhaps Erdogan’s angry confusion was relatively a blessing.
But as you also try to observe the political climate in much of the Arab world, Europe and the US, you can feel that something larger is perhaps happening. There appears to be greater disillusionmentwith the existing political elite, for example, as we saw in countries like Italy and Beppe Grillo’s meteoric success with his Five Star Movement. But more importantly, there also appears to be a demand for an evolution to the current pervading political paradigm.
The current political system, in all of its frameworks and practical variations around the world, centres around a presidency and parliament that varyingly share power for several years before new elections come forth, and in which a simple majority in parliament has strong powers.
But today’s citizens and voters are a radically different specimen from those even 20 years ago. People are now more informed and educated than ever. Politicians are more revealed and in direct contact with people more than ever, through communicating (or being scandalised) on social media, through the 24-hour news cycle, or an almost continuous campaigning mode.
There seems to be a need for a new political paradigm to reflect how the world appears is changing.”

 

Tweets

“After watching Morsi and his supporters tonight, I have no doubt that they are truly rattled by the rebel campaign Tamarod.”
@Nervana Mahmoud

“Morsi is threatening Egypt’s water security. Doesn’t he know that this might be considered a declaration of war?”
@Marwa Farid

“When I think such stupidity is not possible, I think about ideas proposed during national dialogue and everything becomes possible.”
@Wael Eskandar

“Morsi creates the Renaissance Dam problem then wants to lead us into war to remove it. This won’t distract us from 30/6 protest.”
@Omeyma Mahmoud

“The Muslim Brotherhood is politically retarded. There isn’t much else to add after listening to the president’s Monday speech.”
@ Nadia El-Awady

“Under the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt criminality is normalised, evidenced by Assem Abdel-Maged, hardened terrorist and presidential interlocutor.”
@Salama Moussa

“Many around the Middle East, especially Islamists, use freedom of expression to create an archipelago of hate.”
@Anas Mostafa

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