Egypt is moving from controlling rule to the rule of chaos

Whether a ruler is authoritarian or democratic is not as crucial for a nation’s development as having an effective and efficient ruler who is able to meet citizens’ needs! After almost three decades of former president Mubarak’ iron fist rule, Egyptians were unleashed in the 25 January 2011 revolution. Since then, Egypt has been steadily moving from a determined authoritarian ruling mechanism to a disorderly one that falls under the umbrella of authoritarianism, but is not driven by it.

Ruling a country with a high illiteracy rate like Egypt requires a clear ruling mechanism to shape and channel citizens’ thinking patterns and behaviors.  The failure of the January 25 revolution has not only distanced Egypt from the just rule of the law within a democratic system; it has also undermined the role of Egyptian rulers, depriving them of the full-fledged authoritarian mechanism that their predecessors possessed. In the absence of the true rule of law and without capacitated statesmen able to make solid decisions and Mubarak’s “iron-grip”, Egypt is currently manipulated by many powerful interest groups.

Our country is presently facing a very serious challenge: the complete lack of a functioning ruling mechanism. Mubarak did not apply the rule of law properly during his tenures, but his authoritarian grip managed to maintain a degree of order among Egyptian citizens (through manipulation of the law, a valuable tool at that time). Nowadays, the rule of law is certainly not enforced in Egypt and, fearing eventually prosecution, many of those in positions of authority are reluctant to apply the old ruthless mechanism.

President Al Sisi is not as fully in control as Mubarak used to be! Obviously, he drives politics in Egypt exclusively, but this is not enough! Egypt has for long been ruled by a combination of the president’s explicit decisions and his implicit ability to influence and mobilize others to better serve his mission. Al Sisi does not have Mubarak’s aptitude to lead from behind by indirectly mobilizing Egyptian state authorities and institutions. The result is that Egypt may be moving – but it does not know where it is heading.

Implementing a policy of harassing political Islamists without having clear and functional alternative political forces in place that citizens can join is temporarily privileging state authorities at the expense of empowering citizens who could better deal with extremists. The same applies to government expenditure that comes at the cost of shrinking the private sector. Contrary to what the authorities may assume, these kinds of policies don’t strengthen the state; they create a temporary artificial structure that isn’t sustainable and leave a bitter feeling among entities and citizens who are left out and feel unwanted.

Many Egyptians regret what they call the “golden days” of Mubarak’s authoritarianism, when the country was better structured and functioned efficiently, blaming the January 25 revolution for the current inability to maintain order in Egypt. The revolution was a genuine attempt to establish true democracy that was lost in the translation; thus, we ended up living in chaotic conditions, with confused mentalities. Because most Egyptians are not sophisticated enough to understand the technicality of democracy, they tend to immaturely compare between two unpleasant scenarios (authoritarianism vs. chaos), favoring the authoritarian mechanism to the current disorderly one.

Al Sisi, who has been in power for almost three years, does not want to join his own two hands in a handshake so that they can learn about each other’s missions. His ruling style is to allow state entities to function independently, working to empower him, rather than to provide some guidelines to state authorities and entities. In the absence of true democratic pillars and the obvious nonexistence of a functioning ruling mechanism, Egypt is behaving like an out-of-control vehicle that is attempting to speed up – but that has no predetermined destination. A ruling mechanism is what matters; its absence may well explain many of the ambiguities in the decisions adopted by the Egyptian state.

 

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Trump’s Presidency Should Stimulate Americans to Revisit their “Political Egotism”!

Most sensible thinkers considered it an adventure that would be short-lived and never fulfilled; this is how many citizens around the world perceived the emergence of Donald Trump as a potential presidential candidate – until we were all shocked when he was elected President of the United States. People who habitually advocate for “thinking-out-of-the-box” were probably astonished to see a president emerge from outside the American political arena, which has dominated nearly all American presidencies. Trump’s presidency, per se, invalidates any kind of political sensibility!

The adoption of a moderate and reasonable approach towards our global challenges has proven to be an ineffective American policy that people who believe in liberal democracy have been trying to advocate for years. Apart from blind American Democratic or Republican Party loyalists, a large segment of American society decided, quite contentedly, to vote for Trump. These citizens were won over by the candidate’s ideas and policies, period. Apparently unhappy with the “politics-as-usual” tactics that established American politicians have been applying for decades, they decided to bring in a business tycoon who knows nothing about politics.

United States politics is known to be “a tale of sin and virtue”. Bringing Trump to power will highlight the country’s sinful policies, making them more bold and obvious, to the detriment of its traditional sugarcoated policies. The newly elected president, who is driving the United States towards more racism and ignorance, constitutes a very real, unprecedented challenge for Americans; namely, to arrest the spread of the “Trump phenomenon” during his tenure of office. Efforts to expand liberal values should be multiplied substantially, simply to offset Trump’s impact.

Despite its harsh and heavy criticism of him from the moment he became a potential presidential candidate, the American media (once recognized as a “fundamental player” in the manipulation not only of American citizens, but also of citizens around the world) failed drastically to persuade Americans of Trump’s shortcomings. A large portion of American society probably saw the media as a biased entity that does not convey the truth to citizens – which in fact it doesn’t. The U.S. media should therefore reexamine its ethical role and its actual impact on citizens.

People who believe strongly in liberal values should not only recognize their defeats; they must also come up with new ideas and devise a more functional structure to promote their beliefs. Trump won’t be able to change either the world or the American political dynamic; this can only be achieved through a strong and solid advocating mechanism, not by a single person – even if that person is the President of the United States. In fact, an important potential advantage of Trump’s presidency is that it may motivate American civil society to strengthen its role further.

By realizing his presidential campaign promises that are full of racism and hatred, Trump is, in a way, helping this world to become a better place. Building a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico and prohibiting the citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States are clearly prejudicial polices. Nevertheless, these policies should serve to vitalize Americans who refuse Trump’s political stances and positions, prompting them to promote the liberal and moral values that they believe in more energetically.

Being the legitimate president of the United States won’t automatically empower Trump to be a world leader expected to face a good deal of resistance from other leaders and universal citizens. Eventually, American citizens will either intensify their endorsement of their president or reinforce the role of civil society. People who fervently believe in democratic values, especially those who are currently in power, should extend their efforts beyond rhetoric. Meanwhile, advocates of liberal democracy should not only work to condemn Trump; they should also explain to citizens the consequences of his dreadful policies.

Justice, tolerance, and inclusiveness will help Egypt regain its moral values

There is no question in the minds of Egyptians that we have lost most of our moral values and virtues in recent decades. No Egyptian will argue this fact; what we do argue about is the reason behind this deterioration in moral conduct. I am convinced that if we seriously and genuinely want to bring back our waning moral integrity, we must work on regaining three specific essential values: justice, tolerance, and inclusiveness.

Justice is something that the majority of today’s Egyptian citizens have never experienced. In my opinion, the entire Egyptian society is a victim of injustice in one way or another. Although injustice would seem to imply favouring a few people at the expense of many others, in reality it also has a negative effect on those who belong to the privileged portion of society—who initially and deliberately helped to create social injustice—even if they have not noticed this yet.

Egyptian society generally is not a tolerant one. We tend to focus on and cling to our own ideas far more than on implementing any degree of tolerance by entering into constructive dialogues with others. Believing that we are always in the right seriously narrows our chances of understanding others’ perspectives and accepting the fact that they simply have different views. Actually, inclusiveness is an attribute that does not fit our cultural temperament, which is founded on exclusiveness. Egyptians tend to be proud of their individualistic superiority; they believe that they have been blessed with being ahead of everyone else and they only value their lives when undermining others.

Furthermore, understanding the true meanings of justice, tolerance, and inclusiveness is a challenge for Egyptian society. Our society is constructed to deliberately indulge a very tiny portion at the expense of the majority. Citizens are pleased when the law is bent in their favour—often to the detriment of other. We tend to be narrow-minded concerning many issues—which clearly leads to the rejection of others’ ideas—and we often distance ourselves from those who belong to a different religion, gender, ethnic group, etc.

Even though our country offers clear business opportunities, the absence of justice discourages many Egyptians and foreigners from investing in Egypt. Any investor, regardless of background, knows that at some point in the course of his enterprise’s operation, he could be faced with a business dispute and need to resort to an efficient judicial system and a proper application of the rule of law—both of which, unfortunately, are non-existent.

Egyptians affiliated with the current ruling regime are living happily in their exclusive bubble, believing that Egypt was created only for them. The deliberate marginalisation of citizens who differ with the ruling regime’s policies (including the total exclusion of a large portion of society—political Islamists—whose beliefs and behaviour I personally disagree with) is transforming both the secular opposition and the political Islamists into a vicious opposition force and creating many additional enemies to the ruling regime.

The Egyptian state is fully aware of these deficiencies. It takes advantage of them to better manipulate Egyptians by constantly capitalising on the absence of morals. Individual citizens work hard either to obtain their missing rights or to benefit from and extend their unjust acts. In either case, the citizen relies on the state, which is in charge of controlling these issues. The state is conscious of the consequences of this policy and is happy to implement it to further empower state entities without any regard for the application of true moral values.

Getting back the Egypt we know will require prompting Egyptians to embrace the moral values and virtues that we all used to live by. The vast majority of Egyptian citizens have suffered in one way or another from the absence of justice; thus, we need to have fair laws and we need to ensure their proper enforcement. By helping us think of Egyptian society as a single unit, the principle of inclusiveness will strengthen and unify our society, doing away with the current social polarisation. Egyptians need to understand that all citizens, even those who think, act, and behave differently, are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities.

How Egyptians’ morals justify immoralities

Inspired by their own logic and aided by their talent in justifying their sins, Egyptians tend to transform their disgraceful acts into morally acceptable practices. Living in a country where honour and integrity have been declining steadily over the years, has led many Egyptians, unconsciously, to acknowledge immorality as a cultural norm. Unfortunately, this kind of ignorance has led to a situation where many citizens tend to believe that they are strictly abiding by moral values, while accusing others of misbehaving. However, fact is that society as a whole is witnessing a serious decline in moral virtues.

Sadly, immoral conduct is held in high esteem by a relatively large segment of Egyptian society. Immorality helps citizens defuse their daily anger and frustration, and relieve themselves of the burden of responsibility. Furthermore, by not admitting their moral deficiencies, Egyptians completely fail to differentiate between moral and immoral practices and behaviours. As a result, the Egyptian nation today is finding it difficult to identify its mainstream moral values.

Egyptians perceive moral values as purely pragmatic issues, meant to serve personal interests. The observance or rejection of moral values is subject to each citizen’s understanding of “moral value” and their personal view on this debatable subject. Thus, for the majority of Egyptians, virtues and vices are no longer sharply defined. The misperception of moral values, combined with the application of a clear double standard, has produced a society that is living in what may be described as a “state of honourable deception”.

The Egyptian state often indirectly obliges citizens to adopt a harsh attitude that enables them to accept and live with the repressive state policies to which their fellow citizens are subjected. The state habitually attempts to promote the view that while brutal treatment of the opposition may be immoral, it aims to achieve a moral end. This has created confusion among Egyptians regarding the definition of morality. For example, the state dubs the thugs that it often hires to suppress protestors as “honourable citizens”, while any expression of sympathy for citizens repressed by the state is defined as “immoral behaviour” by the state’s affiliates.

Some argue, falsely, that the 25 January Revolution, which concluded in political instability and economic decline, also caused the increase and spread of immorality among Egyptians. In fact, triggered by many factors, immorality among Egyptians has been escalating over the past few decades. The revolution only accelerated the process, making it more noticeable. The evolution or regression of moral values is directly affected by the quality of education and by the state’s advocacy of morality. While the revolution failed to enhance our moral values, the state (for ruling purposes) regularly contributes to the spread of immorality.

Egyptians refuse to be objective about acknowledging their virtues and vices; they insist on asserting that they are abiding by moral values—which, in reality, are rapidly declining. Once people engage in immoral behaviour, they are somehow dragged into endless sorts of misconduct that they eventually come to accept as the norm, which could lead to engagement in various forms of illegal activity. Consecutive Egyptian rulers, who encouraged immoral behaviour during their eras, eventually became the victims of immoral treatment by society. However, they were probably unable to comprehend that this ill-treatment was a consequence of their own initial immoral conduct.

People who are not able to distinguish between virtues and vices won’t notice the difference between moral and immoral values. Attempting to persuade them to abide by moral values is therefore futile. Moral values shouldn’t be an issue that is subject to negotiation, justification, or compromise; citizens either believe and abide by moral values or they are basically amoral, lacking in moral sense. Having a gift for justifying our immoral behaviour certainly does not make us a moral society.