As the days move on since the start of our revolution, we are starting to see who our real enemies are. We called for the removal of Mubarak and the fall of the regime. Mubarak was removed, the regime shaken…and now fingers are starting to point at the Military. But is it only the Armed Forces that are our enemy? Definitely a key enemy but we really need to look much deeper than that.
What do we want? And who is against that?
What it is that we really want? The way I see it, a minority of Egyptians, the revolutionaries, desire a free and democratic republic that respects all people and their rights. This means all men, women, all religions and all nationalities. This means that the state was created by the people and for the people and it protects everyone, not just the majority. Our goal is to have a democratic republic that is not just a one time opportunity to vote, but a state that upholds humans as precious, as valuable. A state that is held in check by the people and a state that cannot and will not abuse its powers…
Anyone who is against this goal, one who does not strive for this goal, one who does not see this goal as feasible, who is too lazy to fight for it, or is merely uninterested in politics. Or to cut to the point I would say we have two problems that will hinder us from reaching our goal, religious extremism (and their silent supporters) or extreme apathy.
Religious Extremism and/or a Religious State
In regards to the extremists in our nation, we have for example the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis who after years of hiding in the dark are enjoying their freedom now. I can only imagine that they feel as though their moment has dawned, and that this was what they have been waiting for. Now Egypt can become what it should be, a religious and Islamic state, and not be a secular state, which would of course be the source of all evil. Must I elaborate, or do we all know what I am talking about? However, I will take this concept of religious extremism a step further to say that even people who believe that Egypt should be established with Islam (or Christianity) at its core is just as much mistaken as the extremists.
Trust me, religious extremists of any religion are the downfall of oneself, one’s family and one’s nation. Some of you may not agree with me, but just look around and see for yourself. Look at the nations that pushed religion at their forefront and see how they ended up. Look at the families that don’t trust each other and are torn apart with violence and hatred just because one person turned their back on their father’s faith. Look at the fear that you yourself live in.
We hear that all those ‘western’ nations are immoral and evil, I’ll say that we must look at own country first and see that people don’t also live in immorality and hypocrisy as much as any person does in ‘those western countries.’
We may hear that being secular would allow ‘kafara’ to take over and the country would be doomed… But are we God? Who are we to judge man and their choices and their desire to not believe what we believe? Who are we to think that you know the future and what is good for a whole nation, let alone our own families.
We may also say that its impossible for our nation to change from being at its core religious. I say, we are not asking for people to not be religious. Are we afraid of something strange, something different, something (maybe) that doesn’t by default allow us to have more social strength and clout than anyone in the minority religions? So we are a cowards, we are afraid of the unknown and we cannot accept the concept of empowerment for all people.
We may also say that we are unified. The people of Egypt..all Muslims and all Christians, all Jews and all Bahai. We are fools. If we just open our eyes and see the reality around us then we will see. There are Christians that have their ears cut off, shot, their churches burnt down by hundreds of Muslims. These are the extreme cases and I am not even touching on the day to day discrimination that all minority religions experience. But we are unified? Some people are afraid to even say what they experienced because they know they will only be harassed and discriminated against because of what they said. But we are unified..so we close our eyes and we spit on humanity, on freedom, and on them. Don’t tell me we are unified, we are not. We want to be, we want to be free, we want to live without fear, all of us, all religions…but we can’t. Not when we refuse to address a reality that we live in.
What I am trying to say is that we must leave religion where it belongs. Yes, I do believe that God is the power behind all things, the power that drives the earth, natural forces, disasters, miracles and essentially everything. But, that is MY belief. I don’t need to make you believe the same and I cannot judge you for thinking differently. Now I have lived in the United States for a while where I was the majority by religious belief, and I have lived in Egypt for most of my life where I was a minority in that regard. I’m not speaking out of fear of being minority and I am not speaking out of my desire to be the majority. I am saying this out of pure conviction that religion needs to stay inside the walls of your own Churches, Mosques, homes and hearts.
Now please, don’t get me wrong. You think I may be preaching to the choir. I’m not. There are more people out there than you think that are silent or maybe even vocal supporters of a religious state, whether or not they support the extremists in our country. I am not saying this to members of the MB or even to the Salafis (They may already be beyond reason). I am saying this to those of us who may even be against them but still believe religion is the answer and as a result don’t allow anyone around us to differ or think or breathe. Are we afraid of being challenged; are we afraid of being wrong?
Our other enemy is him who chooses the status quo and him who stays out of politics all together. Yes, those of us who are just uninterested or who say that its ‘not our thing’ are just as much a hinderer of our goal. I am not fighting this battle for myself, but for all of us, our families, and our children. This battle has no gain except freedom; not power, not glory..nothing except freedom. So hear me out. Politics is not a social science that you might study in university and then practice in some dirty office in downtown. Human beings are political beings whether you like it or now. Politics is the very essence of your being in the world. Politics is a force that affects our lives and the generations to follow (Of course I believe this is all in God’s hand but I also believe he gave us the ability to move and act). Did we not hear our parents say that they were ashamed that they did not fight and scream against the government…that it had to be their children to bring down the regime? So yes, even you are the enemy. Don’t get me wrong, I respect your love of art and music, your sports. I myself am a dancer and a diver. I also respect the fact that it may be too much, all the death, the struggle, the fear, and the anger. I too sometimes want to escape. But there are times in life when we must put some things aside for the bettering of a nation and a future.
My apologies if this was too provocative. But if that’s how you feel then I have accomplished the purpose of this post. It’s time we wake up to the world, to the 21st century and to the reality that we live in. It’s time for us to stop piping up about democracy when we are not even close. Yes, keep it at the forefront of this struggle, but stop only looking forward and see the battles that are here and now. We need to be aware of those who disregard human rights and push a religious agenda or an apathy that watches and allows problems to grow. Watch for it in yourself and watch for it in the country. Both are moving as powerful forces and sadly those of us who still want to see our dreams realized are stuck in the middle, not knowing which way to turn.