On the massacres at Rabaa and Ramses: (De)legitimating the site of dissent before legitimating power

21-08-2013 01:41 PM

By Maria Gloria Polimeno

The Egyptian coup d'etat has today unquestionably swept away the possibility of putting in place the grounds for the construction of a national democratic process by contributing to the radicalization of the social fronts, which seem on these days gravely in the gap of ideological blackouts . The democratic experiment of the first free elections in the political history of modern Egypt has left place to the default of Constitutionalism before the disillusions of those social masses in search of a pluralistic and bipolarized shift in the Egyptian politics stuck in the rhetoric of Al- Sisi in the promises of a multi-parties State who actually seems even more incline towards the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood from the political apparatus, as occurred in 1954.

The one implemented by Morsi, maybe, was a pragmatic Auto(theo)cratic political and social approach , miserably stuck in the gap of solving social paradoxes including the search for an identity in the very definition of "being Muslim in the postmodernist era and in a State, such as Egypt, historically with no experience in be run by a multi-party governmental System ". However, in the empowering of authoritarianism , due to Morsi's decision to stand above the law, here it is worth excluding the "bloody component" used in his first year in office. Component, by contrast, intrinsic in the plan and tactic of action carried out by the SCAF in pursuing the politics of repression and dispersion of the social masses in the project of restoring the military rule . This is what happened under Mubarak and Al Tantawi and now that is what is happening under the command of Al Sisi , who is still pushed in the rhetoric of acting like the "savior" of the citizens while statalizing the media system..

In comparative politics, on the basis of the historical experience which has been lasting from the 50's to nowadays based on a system of compromises and game of corruption within the governmental apparatus together with the institutionalization of the military power in the 52 (and that is Gamal Abdel Nasser ‘s second default after the failure of the Nationalism) too many times analysts have compared the current crisis in Egypt with two explanatory scenarios that could come into being. The first one is the emulation of the Erbakan experience , the second is the one assimilating Egypt with the civil war in Algeria in 1992.

In both cases, the discourse should contextualized before being reductively “ideologized”. In the Algerian perspective the scenario was the one of a guerrilla which was initially led by Takfir wal-Hijra and some former Afghan fighters, and which was based on an unified coalition against the military forces, namely: the FIS, GIA FIDA GSPC Takfir wal-Hijra. Representatives and leaders of the movement were arrested; it was declared the emergency law in the suspension of constitutional rights. However, the leaders who remained free managed over the years to reorganize the movement of the FIS and to give life to some clandestine newspapers and radio channels even though in the coming years FIS represented a source of threat. Similarly, in Egypt, in the immediate aftermath of the coup d'etat 25 satellite broadcasted by the Muslim Brotherhood were suppressed and for the main leaders was issued an arrest warrant including the one of the Salafist Khairat El Shater, who is now in detention. The Egyptian experience retaliation still sees the military rhetoric inclined towards the dissolution of one of the major opposition force of all time, the Ikhwan al-Muslimin (The Muslim Brotherhood), and in this the Egyptian history differs from the Algerina experience for historical reasons which have seen and keep seeing the SCAF in compromise with the changing leaderships of the Ikhwan, which is something absent in the contextualization of the Algerian civil crisis and Necmettin Erbakan’s discourse .

In comparison, it does seem paradoxically more creditable the scenario foreseeing the Egyptian case similar to the one of Necmettim Erbakan , as afore mentioned. In effect , it would not be the first time that Egypt looks at the Turkish experience both in terms of exportation of the political Islam model and in terms of insurgency before the nationalized system. In the Turkish experience, however, Necmettim Erbakan political life ended up with his constriction to resign as Prime Minister by the military forces that provided to issue the order of expulsion .
But once again, and in this specific case, comparative politics does take into account the principle of reductionism and the contextualization of the scenarios by reducing the speech to a mere ideological categorization of the ideological narrative ( and it has to be said that ideologies are not eternal and monolithic) vs. the Egyptian model.

The experience of Egypt is much more pragmatic . If the scenario keeps being comprared to the experience of Erbakan in 1997, the Ikhwan Al-Muslimin, as consequence, should be banned from political life. It seems rather unlikely, if not impossible, that such theory occurs (even though it is still too early for predicting the post-Islamist campaign of remobilization in the gap of the risk on the radicalization of the Country by virtue of the regional empowerment of radicalist movements ) in a historical context which has seen and keeps meeting the fate of the Egyptian governmental system intrinsically with the Muslim Brotherhood as movement and political force.

The massacres of Rabaa and Ramses in Cairo which counts more that 900 civilians and 100 people dead within the armed forces in the plan of repression - dispersion of the Pro-Morsi sit-ins , did represent both the illegitimacy of conquering the sovereignty of a State through brutal massacres , as well as the impossibility (in the case of the Islamist supporters) to take over the rule of a State by being based on the narrative and ideological rhetoric of martyrdoms , which remains today a very questionable and risking point of analysis for the next coming months.

The decision and plan set by Al Sisi , based on attacks aimed at hitting and destroying the source of financing and rearmament of the Ikhwan in order to make further vulnerable the component of the supporters ( which already looks quite weakened due to the absence of a precise and charismatic leadership following the arrest warrants issued , and over the recent detention of Mohammed al-Zawahiri Ayman Al-Zawahiri's brother ) apparently aims at the isolationism of the network by the possibility of cooperating with other jihadist movements and it does refers to the events in 1954, year in which the Ikhwan Al Muslimin were suppressed by Nasser . However, they later reorganized the campaign and became the largest bloc in the opposition. A policy of repression that persists in repeating itself in the mandates of detention run from July 3 to today and which counts about 150 members of the Brotherhood in detention in Dakhalyia. Far away from supporting the logic of the Muslim Brotherhood and the complex of the martyrdoms which is intrinsic in the logic of their actions , the most accountable perspective to investigate from a regional political discourse analysis the massacres at Raba'a and Ramses , is the one which takes into account the external pressures made by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates , more incline to restore a military pro-Israel rule . The bombs exploded in the Sinai in these days which have killed 25 soldiers within the Egyptian army as well as the incursion of Israeli forces in the peninsula and the Rafah border immediately closed are symptomatic of the need, according to Israel, of isolating Hamas from its right-wing in Egypt : here again the Muslim Brotherhood ( on this regard see Polimeno M.G 2013 Islamic auto(theo)cracy , political modernism and identity making crisis. Morsi's challenges in Equilibri.net ) .

Similarly to what happened in the later stage in 1954 where the influences of Sayyid Qutb did play a role in the Muslim Brotherhood tactics , the biggest risk today is that in absence of a leadership ( following Mohammed Badie arrest) the influence of the most representative and questionable leader of the movement in the 60’s comes back to play a heavy role in the post-Islamist campaign and this by virtue of the first statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood spokesman which cites the response to Rabaa Al Adawiyya and Ramses Massacres underling the determination of their martyrdoms which unquestionably would benefit from the regional context also implemented by the Syrian collapse and the lead role played by Al Qaeda and its franchised networks.

Last but not least aspect is the once cocerning sectarianism. In terms of sectarianism, the gap that was created between State and masses, Copts and Muslims does clarify that the new mandate which will be established categorically will not make the crisis ended. Moreover, with regard to the discourse on the role of the Copts and Liberals, the sectarian wave exploded in the torching of Churches (more the 50 have been torched until today) is symptomatic of the old existing tensions and lack of interfaith dialogue and reconciliation gravely affecting the two communities. In a Country dominated by various Catholic minorities, the climate of hostility towards the Coptic community which does represent 10% of the population, is explanatory of the political incompatibility (and Mubarak’s default) from which moving the discourse, rather than by putting the Egyptian sectarian wave into the regional discourse by assimilating it to the Syrian one . The Islamic repression towards the Coptic community in Egypt, once again , finds a source of investigation starting from considering the "radicalized" attitude within part of the Coptic community , which have shown in the last year a even more State inclined tendency. Radicalization started to be spread publicly out after the ratification of the new Constitution with regard to the role addressed to Shari’a in Art. 2 and 220 and women's rights.

The military repression of the Islamists (beyond their miserably default as political forces in office, inefficient in managing a political program, miserably disappointing in terms of social and economci reformism) as well as the suppression of broadcast channels, the arrest warrant, the mass killings carried out by the SCAF and the release of former President Mubarak are clear of the even more progressive and accelerated restoring of the "old regime" or military State , and of the restoration and integration and realization of the Hosni Mubarak’s project . In 2011 the former Egyptian leader in his last statement said, "Me or the Chaos." SCAF , indeed, chose both.

Tahrir’s milestones did, however, represent the attempt by the new Egyptian generation to make the revolution pluralist in terms of forces and debates , and indeed it was so even though too often the media discourse focuses on the end of the democratic process , too pessimistically. But it also did represent the end of the ideological discourse analysis in this geopolitical remapping of MENA Region . Ideologies are not eternal, and Egypt did teach the lesson.

To sum up, it would seem that Egypt is so powerless, unable to complete the advocated shift by forgetting the experience of Mohammed Mahmoud battle and by forgetting the legitimating of Tahrir as site of dissent , aspect which should be the prerogative in order to build a democratic-pluralistic State in which should be legitimate "open debates". All these illusions left space to the disillusions carried out by the democratic constitutionalism in a State where military forces indeed are a Society for Business and in which it does seem that there is only space for demonization of all counterparts in order to suppress the myth of "bipolarism" . The accuses move towards the Liberal Mohammed El Baradei have to be consider through this lenghs.

* Maria Gloria Polimeno is an Orientalist and Political Analyst. Ex Academic visitor at SOAS University of London due to a bursary awarded by the European Programme “Leonardo “ SOUTH Action. She researched about political Islam in Egypt and the rise of Radical Islamist movements. in 2012 She awarded a bursary by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as postgraduate at Cairo Universities. In 2009-2010 She studied at University of Jordan Amman. She contributed this article to Ammon News English.

  • no comments

All comments are reviewed and posted only if approved.
Ammon News reserves the right to delete any comment at any time, and for any reason, and will not publish any comment containing offense or deviating from the subject at hand, or to include the names of any personalities or to stir up sectarian, sectarian or racial strife, hoping to adhere to a high level of the comments as they express The extent of the progress and culture of Ammon News' visitors, noting that the comments are expressed only by the owners.
name : *
show email
comment : *
Verification code : Refresh
write code :