Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1179, (9 - 15 January 2014)
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1179, (9 - 15 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

The harvest of great days

For the majority of Egyptians, the New Year didn’t so much start 1 January as 3 July, writes Abdel-Moneim Said

Al-Ahram Weekly

It has become the custom of the media, after crossing the threshold from one year to the next, to conduct a general inventory and character assessment of the year gone by. Part of the process involves a competitive element regarding the “best songs”, “best films” or “best books” of the foregoing year. A similar process occurs in the political, economic, social and cultural domains. The premise is artificial, of course, based as it is on the notion of a chronological rupture between one day and another, one year and another and — often for purely commercial purposes — between the seconds that precede the end of one year and the seconds that follow. In accordance with one of the latest fads added to the chronological myth, festivities start where the sun first sets on some unknown island in the Pacific, after which comes the turn of New Zealand and Japan followed by other parts of the inhabited world, moving westward. China and Russia get to celebrate New Year’s Eve an amazing nine times because of the time zones these vast countries span.
As though to expose the falsehood of the myth of the year, Stratfor Global Intelligence featured an article on the “Political Geography of the Gregorian Year”. The Gregorian calendar, which is used by most countries of the globe, is that based on 12 months (January through December), each of which is divided into seven-day weeks. It was established by papal bull of Pope Gregory 13 in 1582, but only became universal when the British adopted it in 1752. Prior to this there were many types of years. That of the ancient Egyptians was based on the annual Nile floods and their agricultural seasons. Then the Jews created a calendar that demarcated the year in a different way. The first year of a globalised nature was that attributed to Julius Caesar, the use of which spread across the Roman Empire. The Chinese have long had a year of their own, as have the Arabs and Muslims whose year is based on the Hijra calendar. All of these calendars were based on the movements of the moon and the sun, or on agricultural or commercial seasons. None were accurate in calculating the duration of the solar year. Even the Gregorian calendar, which was the most accurate of all and which solved the problem of that extra quarter of a day in the earth’s movement around the sun by fiddling with February every four years, has been proven slightly off. Now that it has been discovered that it deducted 26 seconds from the average man’s life, a full day will be added back to people’s lives every 3,323 years.
In the meantime, we are still left with the matter of the year that was and the year that will be. In this respect, perhaps a reckoning by major historical events and turning points is more important than a reckoning by seconds, days and years. For example, the October 1973 War marked the beginning of the decline of the Israeli empire. This entity began its expansion in 1948 when the newly founded state obtained its share of the land accorded to it under the UN partition resolution and quite a bit more. In the years that followed, it gradually swallowed up more territory that had been classified as neutral or demilitarised. Then, with the June 1967 War it achieved its largest territorial expansion in a single stroke, occupying the rest of Palestine, plus the Sinai and the Golan Heights. As of October 1973, however, this empire began to shrink over several stages from the disengagement agreement through the Oslo Accords. Whether the current negotiating rounds succeed and bring further shrinkage, it is clear that the age of the Israeli empire has ended and that we are on the threshold of a new era characterised by an Israeli state next to a Palestinian one, or by a Palestinian-Israeli state, depending on how events unfold.
In like manner, if 2013 marked the beginning of the decline of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, contrary to the common impression, this decline did not begin in Egypt but rather in Taksim Square in Istanbul where “civil” demonstrations protested the destruction of a park to make way for the reconstruction of an “Ottoman” edifice. The rest is details the dynamics and repercussions of which continue to play out. But it was from Egypt that was heard the loudest proclamation of the end of over 80 years of horizontal expansion among the populations of more than 80 countries, and vertical expansion of a tightly organised, controlled and financed international network. It was no coincidence, therefore, that even Tunisia’s more moderate Al-Nahda movement would prove a dismal failure in running that country and that the Muslim Brotherhood government in Sudan would find no alternative but to ally with Ethiopia against Egypt’s welfare.
Obviously, the battle is still in progress. Although the most visible and fiercest arena is in Egypt, it is taking place in many forms in other countries. What is of chief importance is that the myth has ended. The idea that the Muslim Brotherhood possesses the “Islamic solution” has proven groundless, especially now that it has become apparent that the only solution they have is based on violence and terrorism. Yes, there was a “coup”, but not against a government but rather against an idea that, with alarming speed, tangibly demonstrated that it was false and lacking any real substance when put to the practical test in government and political processes. The illusion that the Brotherhood is a guardian of an esoteric truth has evaporated; indeed, it had already begun to do so while they were still in power and, in various back corridors and underground chambers, locked in an embrace with terrorist groups.
Another facet of the end of the Muslim Brotherhood myth is that the civil state has re-emerged after a wane that threatened to last forever. Not long after the Arab Spring revolutions erupted, the Muslim Brothers moved in to present themselves as the wave of the future. They assumed positions of power, distributed favours left and right, and managed appointments in a manner that ensured that every single government body or agency was subordinate to the control and authority of their organisation. To liberals the world over, they spoke of the “Turkish model”. To conservatives they cited the argument of cultural “specificity”, without mentioning that their concept of specificity was inspired by the ideas of Sayed Qutb. They then proceeded to conduct their marriages with terrorist movements, to hoist their flags and banners, to parade the assassins of president Anwar Al-Sadat in the 6 October celebrations, and to sing out the chants and incantations of these wedding ceremonies from Cairo Stadium from which they proclaimed the Muslim Brotherhood regime’s position on the Syrian crisis.
The Muslim Brotherhood wave crashed against an insurmountable wall. The Egyptian Tamarod (Rebel) movement was the civil reaction to the theocratic drive. It began from Cairo and spread northwards to Alexandria, and eastwards to the cities of the Suez Canal, and it thus embraced factory workers and farmers, all segments of civil society, the business community, Al-Azhar and the Church, as well as the judicial, military and security establishments of Egypt’s historic civil state. Nor were they alone in defending themselves. The “non-Islamicised” Arab trend acted, not only to support Egypt’s June revolution but also to help it prevail in the face of domestic and international challenges.
In short, the times had changed long before the countdown to the New Year.

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