Forty years ago, on October 5th, Egyptians were in a state of no war, no peace. What was called the war of attrition, but was really skirmishes where some died from the Egyptian side, and few or none from the Israeli side. It was a time of deep depression for the people as a whole. A large, dear, important part of our country was under foreign occupation, and the shame of a recently lost war. Our young men had an average of seven years on the front after graduating school or college. With the added risk of being killed. And the shame of being in the armed forces that were looked down upon by the general public. It was Ramadan when a month of fasting is observed. From sunup to sundown no food or water. October in Egypt is beautiful weather. To the world at large, and to Egyptians in particular, it was business as usual.
The following day, October 6, started normally. A working day for those in the Government, a school day for most schools, and regular business for everybody. These days rumors were always floating about, and as usual there was a rumor going the rounds that leaves had been cancelled for all military personnel. But this was justified by the fact of the imminent, planned maneuvers.
Coming back home after work for lunch – being a Christian I was not fasting – we had lunch, then switching on the radio were shocked to hear communique number three very succinctly describing the crossing of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian army. Deep shock, excitement, hope and fear. We then turned on the TV. And were glued there for the duration.
Forty years later, celebrating this victory, Egypt is yet again in turmoil. The Muslim Brotherhood which had been ruling up to July 3rd of this year, has been ousted in the person of Morsi, the Brotherhood member who managed to become President the year before. The same feelings of hopelessness and extreme depression and fear had been the lot of most Egyptians who were not members of or supporters of the Brotherhood. The very character of Egyptians was being forced into becoming what it was not, what was alien to it. Our way of life was being forcibly changed into a much more depressing one, where music was looked upon as taboo (haram), dancing much worse, woman looked upon as a sex symbol that should be totally banished from life other than the bedroom. The world was getting darker and the mood of the people uglier. A ray of hope was the Tamarod movement that peacefully tried to give hope to the people in the form of a petition requesting early Presidential elections. The very strong feeling that the previous elections were very brazenly rigged to bring in Morsi as President, were to the minds of the people proven to be true when a high profile Judge, on the Elections Committee whose job it was to look into any infractions, just a month before the deposition of Morsi, was given a portfolio in his government. So many Brotherhood sleepers were exposed during that year, and so many more are suspect up till now.
Today, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of that glorious victory, where our pride and dignity were avenged, where the innovation and courage of our armed forces were displayed, where the cunning and planning of its leaders shown to the world, we are again at a low point in our history.
Although the Brotherhood is no longer in charge of the country, and the fear for Egypt is no longer imminent, yet the followers and sympathizers of the now banned, illegal, terrorist organization are doing their best to disrupt our daily lives and any attempts at a peaceful future. Their plan is to derail the road map, put stumbling blocks in the path of completing a new constitution, then resort to violence through disruptive marches that turn violent very quickly. Another part of their plan was a series of bombs going off in the underground or in crowded areas, as well as the assassination of known figures, preferably secular Christians. To-date none of their plans worked. The one plan that has turned against them very badly is that of disrupting traffic.
Anyone living in Cairo knows how snarled traffic becomes especially during rush hours, which seem to cover longer periods of the day each year. The Brotherhood plan was to have one of them stop his/her car at the narrowest point on a bridge or highway that is a main traffic artery, with the excuse that the car broke down and that they are waiting for a tow car. After a few of those incidents were discovered and exposed by the media, people were very alert and would not fall for that trick. Just last week a lady had stopped her car on the flyover leading to the desert road and was telling everyone that it stalled and would not go and that she was waiting for her husband and the mechanic to come see to it. As she was blocking half the road and traffic was getting extremely congested, people got suspicious. A young man, a passenger on a bus, jumped out and said to her let me try to get it going for you. She became agitated and refused. He just plucked the keys out of her hand, jumped in the car, turned the ignition and the engine caught and purred smoothly. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the car. The young man lowered the window and said: As punishment for implementing the Brotherhood plan, you can now collect your car from the desert. And off he went with the car, to the cheering of the rest of the people and the horror of the woman left stranded on the highway. This is now the attitude of the people in general.
For the last couple of days the Brotherhood has been egging its people and their sympathizers to take to the streets and chant derogatory slogans against the most popular figure in Egypt these days, Head of the Armed Forces, General Al Sisy. Nothing could have alienated the people more. It is such a stupid move, they must be really desperate. Just yesterday, after Friday prayers, they went in droves to try occupy Tahrir square. To reach Tahrir they had to cross one of the residential islands on the Nile called Manial el Roda. Once they got to the island, its residents came out armed with sticks and the butchers with knives and beat the Brotherhood to a pulp. They fled, with some injuries. This scenario seems to be repeated all over Egypt. We expect them to keep it up till tomorrow, the actual celebration date of October 6th.
The trouble with these people is that they simply cannot bring themselves to believe that now that the general public has turned against them, that this is their end. Not only are they now reviled and hated by the people, but worse still, they have been socially ostracized and will find it very difficult to live among the people let alone earn a living or even survive. It is no longer the police or the army that are chasing them, it is the people, and this is definitely the beginning of the end for them.
Congratulations Egypt on another victory against another type of occupation.