So it was as I had predicted-the quiet before the storm. Egypt under martial law appears to me more polarized than under the other two M’s: Morsy and Mubarak. Somehow I hope the next president is a Tamir, or a Amr but not Mohammed or Mostafa- the M’s seem to have been a bad omen! As Egypt’s Jon Stewart, Bassam Youssef would say, “M’s and Mesr don’t mix!” Yet, ironically, the country’s first initial is “M” as in Masr in Arabic! On a Skype call yesterday, my dad joked, “wherever you go, troubles and excitement follow.” If you hear my story you too would agree with him! I was in Egypt following the overthrow of Mubarak in 2011, I was here when Morsy was elected in 2012, and I am here now when Egypt is in deeper turmoil!
It is not surprising then, that many people fail to understand why I am still here, when most foreigners and upper class and Christian Egyptians in large numbers have left the country? In response, I have them look around and ask them if they’d rather read about these events in a history textbook or a non-fiction book where only one side is presented or would they rather witness it live and be the judge themselves? The facts always seem distorted from a distance since there is little choice but to let the media feed into your curiosity. You believe anything that is presented because you have no other source of information. So I choose to stay and observe all sides and paint the complete picture with my readers. Of course if you are wise, you will leave no stone unturned to piece the puzzle together irrespective of your proximity to the events.
It is widely known, or should be known, that every news media has its own bias because each prefers to work with like-minded people and it is easier and only natural that we, as humans, focus on our views, because let’s accept it- we are selfish when it comes to rights! And what about the $$$ that pays the salary of the staff?
So how then can you get the other side’s story? Simple, you access their news channels and read their views. But sadly, this is not even a vague possibility in Egypt now. The opposition grassroots movement was able to mobilize a huge gathering in Tahrir and at other locations because the news media served as their channel. Fair enough, but not so fair when the pro-Morsy camp could not afford the same convenience. The news stations favoring the ousted leader, were all forced to shut down and their guests arrested in the midst of programs. The justification was that the Ikhwaan, the group to which Mohamed Morsy belongs was instigating violence through these channels. Now, I am not here to deny the fact that the Ikhwaan haven’t resorted to violence in reaction to their elected leader being ousted. What I am saying is that we need to give them a fair chance, to express and discuss their anger, civilly. It should also be told, that no body in this crisis is without blood on their hands and most pro-Morsy supporters see violence as counterproductive to their mission. Both sides have resorted to violent in different instances, yet, the news fails to report the violence instigated from the opposition. My doorman, sees things more clearly than others, ” everybody is bad”, he says. For instance, if I were an Egyptian pro-Morsy supporter I would not go on a shooting rampage if I heard senior Brotherhood members calling for a jihad against what I consider an unfair deal. I would use my head and heart! How can I go about killing my fellow brothers and sisters? But the wounds are still fresh and they sting as a result. So logic does not come logically. It has to be taught.
This morning, the army and police allegedly (but most likely true than not) opened fire on a pro-Morsy sit-in and killed and injured several dozens of peaceful protesters. Is this the result of some opposition-loyal media channel calling for this massacre? No! It is sheer mindlessness and inhumanity. There is no other way to deem this action. Polarity under martial law today is the worst than it ever was under the two Ms.
More importantly, isn’t the right to free speech and free press guaranteed for all people? Egyptians are slipping back into the Mubarak era and mirroring the same mistakes made by the leader they ousted in 2011.
Coming up: Isn’t the army, responsible for protecting the people- all people independent of their political affliations? In fact this morning’s event and the fact that the pro-Ikhwaan gatherings were not protected by the military suggests a hidden agenda, which is becoming clearer by the day. Stay tuned.