Like many others, I am alarmed by the spirit of vengeance that is spreading among Egyptians lately. I do not doubt that it is an expected reaction to long years of political oppression, economic corruption, and cultural decline over the past decades.
Many are wondering what happened to this people who were once known for their compassion and tolerance, but today harbour deep resentment, strong rage and at times unjustified violence. Has the disposition of Egyptians changed or has something happened to alter the character of the country and trigger dominant feelings of vengeance in the transitional phase?
I am not promoting spontaneous forgiveness or neglecting rights or spilled blood. I am merely stating that everything is open to discussion except the lives of the martyrs. Today, as I call on the sons of the same nation to urgently review current conditions and their options in the future, I am taking a long hard look at the fog surrounding our lives and the dark clouds that are blocking our vision and turbulence that has become a key feature in our society.
As I say this, I am mindful of examples that preceded us and peoples who went through the same experience and were able to overcome the obstacles and difficulties with resolve, patience, openness mindedness and a far-reaching vision. We should discuss the following:
First, overall national interests should never mean forgetting the future or overlooking issues, but primarily means that we should have broad mobilisation that allows us to move forward without forgetting the importance of glancing backwards now and then. We should never forgive a tyrant or cover-up a crime, but what is critical now is to raise the country’s supreme interests above all and rise above the wounds and look forward more than backward.
South Africa under the leadership of the iconic activist Nelson Mandela is a model that is worth studying and pondering after the apartheid regime was ousted in this large multi ethnic African state that is home to Africans, Europeans, Indians and other ethnicities. Surely the people of Egypt, who have a history of hegemony and merged civilisation, can take a path that allows this historic melting pot with a cohesive culture to follow a similar path as this extraordinary human experience.
I repeat, there is no price for spilled blood and martyrs are heroes who light up our history, but the court cases addressing the looting, plundering, and theft of funds require another form of conciliation and a different outlook than what is prevalent right now. Justice is running its course but the procession must continue on its way without stopping. We must not forget that many sectors in the state of Egypt are temporarily paralysed and we must address this with courage, boldness and faith.
Some people might say that our situation is different, and that in South Africa it was a cultural issue with a long history and that once society rejected its racist ways, it was ready to embrace the spirit of the age and move towards the future on a different path. We cannot remain hostage to the past and slaves to sorrow, but instead should all walk forward with forgiveness and contentment behind whomever wins the vote, and also those who were elected to parliament. They must all be able to bring us back together and accommodate the facts on the ground because time is passing, our country is bleeding, resources are declining and crises are erupting on a daily basis.
Second, the cacophony of debate and base dialogue we hear and the exchanged accusations and insults and invasive criticism should make us view these developments with objectivity that rises above the pain in order to achieve our aspirations and dreams. This is not easy, and we all realise how difficult it is to overcome the past and our lives then, but in the end we need courage, forgiveness, a spirit of conciliation, and an ability to free ourselves from the grip of the dreadful past.
Third, the Freedom and Justice Party, followed by the Salafist parties, are responsible to some degree for mobilising the people and their forces on a pre-determined path of reform, in which all political forces and experienced nationals should participate without exemption or exception. Enough lament about how the previous regime squandered Egypt’s most valuable human resources, and restricted their mobility which deprived distinguished experts from playing an effective role on the national front and political stage. Therefore, the new majority should not make the same mistakes as the old majority, or else we would be reproducing the past, at least in appearance.
Four, tearing down the wall of fear does not mean the disintegration of values or tradition or laws or disrespecting seniors and experience. Linking generations is the mechanism for progress towards the future and a safety valve. Anyone who believes that reform should begin with a specific generation or specific current is delusional; everyone is a partner in making the future and mapping out the new way of life for a people who have suffered for a long time. The time has come to join the age while well-equipped and with a modern rationale based on a broad vision and scrupulous administration.
Five, we must be aware of the dangers lurking around every corner which require us to be very cautious and vigilant, especially on the military and economic fronts. The Hebrew state is monitoring everything that goes on in the corridors of power in Egypt, and closely observes developments in the largest Arab state, as well as historically and geographically pioneer state in the region.
Israel’s Foreign Minister was not delusional when he said that “the Egyptian revolution poses a greater threat to Israel than Iran does.” Some statements by Egyptian presidential candidates rattled the recently formed coalition government in Israel so much, that many ultra-fanatics there view them as justification to prepare for new military action that might target some areas in North Sinai.
Surely it is better for us focus our energies on what is happening around us on the domestic, regional and international fronts, instead of focusing on selective rhetoric that blocks our view and weakens our resolve. Egypt is a wealthy country with its heritage and people, and we must choose a much better path than the one we are taking. Revenge is easy but conciliation requires national courage; destruction is negative but serious construction is the nation’s path towards a promising future.