My speech for ICORN event about “The arab spring” which take place in stockholm .
Translated from Arabic by:
Reem Osama Abdelrazik
Reem A. Inani
I welcome you and extend my sincere gratitude to the organizers of his event for inviting me to talk about the so called 'The Arab Spring'. I believe that who ever came up with that term and used it to refer to the happenings of some middle eastern countries with in the past year has been betrayed by expression.
It makes no sense to call things other than their names, and it is idiotic that we insist on our stance on what is happening in that part of the world, which is about to become a source of violence,crime,extremism and terrorism, it is pathetic and ridiculous at the same time to believe that the concept of revolution is reflected in the replacing an authoritarian dictatorial regime based on the non-religious foundations with a fascist regime where the sources of the laws originate from religion.
A few months ago I had to travel to Europe to escape the so called 'The Arab spring' -I do not understand till now why there are those who insist on the use of this term.
I am not the only one who preferred traveling and escaping this painful reality, I know many people who were very enthusiastic about the Egyptian revolution, who participated in it and risked their own lives and safety n order to make it a success, they found themselves after a short period unable to continue living in Egypt (revolutionary), some packed their bags and left the country, others are getting ready to leave and others are waiting for the earliest opportunity to enable them to leave.
Some may marvel at what I am saying, a lot seem to think that my suffering had ended with the fall of the former regime, in which I was imprisoned for quite some time because of the views I expressed, but the truth, which was deliberately hidden throughout my years in prison is that the former regime was not the key factor in what happened to me, many of those who volunteered to support me and defend my case strongly used it to their advantages in political games that I have never participated in.
The reason for my imprisonment all these years was my disagreement with Al-Azhar and a few Islamist groups. Al-Azhar institution which I was a student in belonging to an extremely religious family decided to take revenge on me after I had publicly denounced their religious ideology. They tried to make an example out of me in order to prevent anyone from doing what I did. I do not deny that the former regime collaborated with them and caused my imprisonment but had it not been for Al-Azhar institution and Islamic groups non of that would have happened to me.
In any case, this does not deny my extreme opposition of the former regime, I have been a participant in the movement against it that the streets of Egypt have seen since 2005, I participated in the demonstrations, the Kifaya movement, and I was a member of the Ghad Party and an advocate for the candidate Dr. Ayman Nour during the time of his candidacy for presidency in the elections of 2005.
I was emprisoned for four years. One of them was because I was condemned with insulting the president when I criticized him in one of my articles published on the Internet. After I was released from prison, and as the Egyptian revolution started, I didn't hesitate to participate in it. I used to cheer with thousands of citizins who demanded the end of decades of corrupt, injustice, oppression, repression of freedom and exclusion of opponents. Deep down, I wanted to terminate the regime that emprisoned me for many years just to satisfy some extremists and to avenge for one of the religious establishments that is totally retroactive, ignorant and retarded. In addition to those, was some religious groups which always aimed at killing whoever disagrees with them or decides to leave them.
I admit that during the revolution, I went through a state of absence and negligence. I thought that ending Mubarak's regime would automatically result in the fall of all his allies either the known or the unknown. Amongst whom were those who took religion as a cover to fight their opponents and elemenate those who protested against them. A lot of my friends who lived abroad, as well as some foreign ones, used to wonder much about the reality of the regim's claim that the Muslim Brother Group was amongst the planners of what was going on in Egypt. As I wanted to win everyone's support and sympathy with what was going on in Egypt at that time, I underestimated the role of the Group and argue that their existance and participation in what was taking place isn't of any threat to the future of the country. Nevertheless, I used to see thousands of the Group's members always in Tahrir Square protecting it's entrances and roaming around to spot whoever opposes the society of the square, maltreat him and expul him out. At that time, I wasn't aware of the seriousness of the situation and it's future bad consequences.
I kind of deliberately sedated myself until I was awakened by a sock! A few days after President Mubarak stepped down, and SCAF took charge of the country during its transitional phase, the extremist Group became very active in the Egyptian society, free terorists from their emprisonment and form a committee presidented by one of the people who favored Islamists and memberd by one of the leaders of the Muslim Brothers Group. The aim of the committee was to review the amendments that should be applied to the constitution. However, the amendments suggested were of a disappointment to our hopes as revolutionists. It appeared to us that nothing has changed now that the constitution was patched by lame amendments that were not up to the goals of the revolution. All the religious tendencies started to reject such amendments. This was when the Islamic groups saw a clear chance to evaluate it's popularity among the Egyptian society and the possibility of using the religious speach approach to croud people around them after the revolution. They claimed that voting for the amendments would be in favor of maintaining the Islamic identity of Egypt. They supported this by a lame theory that these temporary amendments didn't discuss the second article of the constitution which states that Islam is the official religion of the country, Arabic is it's official language and the Islamic law (Sharea) is the main refference for all legistations. They claimed that rejecting such amendments would result in a new constitution where this article would be removed. Inspite of the fact that I was against this article, it wasn't the reason why I was against such amendments, especially that it was possible to include it one way or the other in the new constitution. However, extremists were keen to promote for these amendments are only opposed by Christians and seculars who want to obliterate the Islamic identity of the country. The results of the questionnaire came in favor of the amendments, which was actually only aiming at evaluating their popularity among the Egyptian society. This encouraged them to reveal themselves with all they have.
On the other hand, SCAF deliberately used one of the dirtiest political tricks. They saw it to be for their own benefit to use Islamists and support them during this phase while moving on with the same policy adopted by the former regime who used them during its latest years as a scarecrow to terrorize the secular streams which aimed at establishing a civil country where all citizins were treated equally. SCAF depended on the assumption that some social sectors, among which will be harmed by the rule of Islamists, will be forced at the end to accept the least possible damages which is reproducing the former regime.
I closely watch the current situation in the country of 'The Fake Spring', and I only find disappointment. The political Islam streams became the main controler on the Egyptian society. Now that they occupy the majority of the parliament, we became in real danger. Egypt that we knew to be a role model of peaceful coexistance of religions and cultures, is to become a Taleban's Afghanestan or Al-Mallali's Iran, for those who are still with hope!
The Islamic giant in a box is becoming more dangerous to many. Christians, for example, became used to extremists rading one of their churches, demolishing, or setting it on fire. Nevertheless, a legislation set by some Salafi people to deport them from their houses and sell their belongings, run over them with armors or shotting them to death at cold blood. In either scenarios, no one interfered to stop these crimes or punish any of those who became above any law now that the veil (nikab) and robe (gilbab) have replaced the membership card of the disintegrated National Party. Such card that used to open doors and protect people from being puinished for any crime they do.
For thinkers, scientists, cultured and writers, life has turned into an unbearable hell. Every now and then, someone prosecutes any of them for their ideas, writings or works. The most recent incident is sentencing the actor Adel Imam for 3 years behind bars for religion contempt in his movie 'The Terrorist' (Al-Erhabi). That movie was in theatres 15 years ago in which he attacked extremists who did actions of violence against the country at that time.
Talking about women rights, feel free with no shame! We can't discribe what women suffer these days except by saying a threat to her social and legitimate rights that she gained over the past century. The Egyptian woman is now in real danger. Muslim members of the parliament present amendments to whatever law that gave women rights. Such laws that we consider as some of the very few benefits of the previous regime. Some demanded revocation of the woman's right to divorce her husband via Khol' ('7ol3) as they claimed it participated in damaging homes and spacing families. This comes in spite of the fact that that Khol' ('7ol3) that we know comes as an implementation of an Islamic Sharea. Other members seek to revocate the laws that criminalize girls' circumcision which is done for a big percentage of Egyptian girls causing them countless damages. Some members demand reducing legal marriage age for girls to 14 years. A lady member of the parliament, who happens to belong to Freedom & Justice Party the political wing of the Muslim Brothers Group, she legalizes that a husband rapes his wife and doesn't criminalize public sexual harassment saying that the way women dress is the reason why men harass them. This was her defence when she was attacked for such proposal coming from a female parliament member who should have been concerned with representing women in the parliament and working on giving her her full rights and not working against her.
I didn't want to be so harsh talking about my country describing what is taking place there. However, the reality made me. I don't want to deny the fact that the people of Egypt are heading for a future that seems to be very dark. I'd rather be honest with myself and with you and state the bitter truth. Admitting it might help in correcting the course. When man finds himself obliged to run from the warmth of 'Spring' to the coldness of 'Winter', this is when he should take a pause to reform his mixed concepts.
Thank you so much for listening.