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It looks like we are now in a state where we are just looking for something to split us up and over which we can fight. Has Morsi and his terrorist organization succeeded so well? Are we now so enamored of the idea of taking to the street, shouting slogans and even fighting and dying for something we have not thought through? To my way of thinking that is exactly what is happening with this newly ratified law regulating demonstrations
This ill-fated law came into being as an embryonic idea by the MB during Morsi’s rule. The idea was to curb demonstrations and lessen the effect of the opposition. It was mainly a tool of oppression in the hands of a terrorist organization that had a dedicated curbing machine in the police force.
This problem is so compounded, it is mind boggling. So many factors go into it, it will take a lot of effort, thought and education, ON ALL SIDES, to unravel this knot. Or it should be cut by one clean sharp blade. Let me explain.
The elements of the problem are legion. First is the perception of this law as being one initiated by the MB for oppression purposes. This has already settled into the subconscious of the people. Eradicating it needs education and proper, widespread education of the meaning of the law, its philosophy and it also needs CHCKS AND BALANCES in the application.
The wording of the law must be very accurate, it should specify that demonstrations are to take place through advising the authorities, and not through asking permission by the authorities. The irony is that the new Constitution specifies the former, whereas the interpretation of the police authority tends towards the latter meaning. All activists rose in protest at what they perceived as a curbing of their hard earned right to protest, and the behavior of the police in dispersing last night’s demonstrators, compounded the problem.
More seriously is now the splitting of the people in two camps. Those who have reached their boiling point against the hooliganism of a large part of the demonstrators and would like to see all demonstrations dealt with very harshly, ACCORDING TO THE LAW; and those who see this as an attempt to legalize oppression through a new/old regime, with the same tool of the old police force with its oppressive, violent mentality.
There are elements of truth in every point of view, and to bring these closer to a unified view is going to take some very clever mental footwork. Unfortunately the government and its leader do not seem to have this ability. They are in a position where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They want to apply the law, but they saw what a disaster the first attempt at this application was. They want to mitigate the effects of this disaster, but in doing so are accused of not applying the law. On one side they have the demonstrators accusing them of turning into another Mubarak oppressive regime, on another side the majority of the people sick of all the chaos and insecurity of the past three years want all demonstraters to be dealt with very strictly by the law, and finally those who look to the principles of things, divorced from application on the ground, protest the law in principle.
Which faction of those three will prevail, is a toss-up. I don’t think any one faction will. They are all losing, and so is Egypt. By being split over this one law, by being unable to discuss, explain and even tailor the application to every given situation, we are all tearing our beloved Egypt apart. If the government was stronger, more assertive, it could have come out and clearly stated that the law is the law and will be applied. That some mistakes were made in its application by a police force that has not yet been re-trained. That said mistakes will be taken into consideration when applying the letter of the law to those already arrested. This way they show that they uphold the law, but are aware of the shortcomings in its application, and are dealing fairly with those arrested, without breaking the law.
Although this is exactly what happened, it is unfortunate that it was not clearly explained to the people in general. So the demonstraters now see that they were right as they are being released one by one. They do not understand that they broke the law, but are being released because the police applied the law incorrectly. The people in general are very loud in their condemnation of the government in breaking its own laws, not seeing that a really higher form of justice is being served when a law is wrongly applied then it is justice not to apply it. Finally the few members of the Committee of fifty have frozen their participation in protest of this application, which has brought the wrath of the people on their heads because most do not see that a law, misapplied is even more unjust than actually breaking said law.
To unravel all that needs a great deal of firmness, clarity, and education. The Minister of Interior must publicly acknowledge the mishandling of the police, the PM must give a firm and assertive statement about the rule of law, and why in this case it was tempered by justice, and the media should ensure that these two statements are interpreted correctly. If this did not happen, the the only thing that would save the situation from spiraling into complete chaos is a sharp, clean cut, which would be totally dictatorial and might really return us to a dictatorial oppressive state.
There are no easy answers, but if people are sincere in their love for Egypt, then it is about time we started using our brains more than our feelings. We should break the habit of taking to the streets at the drop of a pin, we should use words and not fists in getting our point of view across.
God save my beloved Egypt.