But then something amazing happened; protesters united in Tahrir Square once more on Nov. 19th to give SCAF a clear message that their rule is no longer welcome. The protests are still ongoing and with every day brave Egyptian men and women line up in the streets of Cairo and other cities, new victims are murdered by a brutal regime that has been quite generous in its use of dangerous tear gas, live bullets and other creative weapons to destroy their own people!
Yet, SCAF's brutality is only strengthening the Tahrir spirit. Professor Firas al-Atraqchi describes what is happening in Egypt as "amazing" and I fully agree! But amid this miraculous revival of of the Tahrir spirit, Egyptians are facing a new challenge; a challenge that is creating divisions, disagreements and animosities. Monday, Nov. 28th, Egyptians will launch their first democratic parliamentary elections since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011. While many are looking forward to their first real taste of democracy, others have decided to abandon the ballots as long as SCAF still rules.
I have to say I have been debating this dilemma for days now. I was one of the many Egyptians abroad who were fighting to be heard and pressuring the government to authorize Egyptians abroad to vote. When I finally won my right, I had to face this new challenge. Given that I am a strong opposer of SCAF rule, I have come to my decision; I have decided that I will NOT be participating in the current elections and here's why:
- I find it very contradicting to tell SCAF that I don't accept their military rule, yet I accept & participate in the elections they initiated and insist on carrying out, despite the protests that have spread across the country.
- I have seen nothing positive or democratic under the SCAF rule. In fact, I can clearly say that SCAF generals have outdone Mubarak with their brutality. They have beaten, abused, shot & unfairly put innocent Egyptians on military trial; they have humiliated women by forcing them to take virginity tests; they have failed to punish officials of the old regime starting with Mubarak, among many many other failures and examples of dictatorship. So Why would I possibly believe that their elections will be fair and democratic if there are no other signs to confirm this democratic change?
- The Alliance of the Revolutionaries of Egypt unified the people's demands and succeeded in creating a temporary civil government that can definitely set the country on the right democratic path. Even though they announced these demands in a memorandum, which SCAF has surely seen, the military council went against the people's wishes and instead, has chosen a former Mubarak minister to take over the government following Essam Sharaf's brief unproductive term. Kamal el-Ganzouri has regained his mid-1990s post as Prime Minister. I don't see SCAF or Ganzouri as Egypt's current leaders and agree with the temporary council created by the ARE, led by the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed El Baradei. So how can I give my vote under a government I don't view as legal?
- There are multiple other reasons, like the fact that this parliament will practically have no power under SCAF, so why bother? Military leaders are good for military decisions but, as we've seen and experienced in Egypt, they are failures when it comes to politics. Their failure lies in their dictatorship style and inability to encompass other voices. I see no change with my vote, because we are merely voting for a puppet parliament that will do as SCAF pleases and not what the people demand or need.
- I'm also convinced that SCAF is here to stay, despite multiple confirmations from Field Marshall Tantawi that he has no desire to rule Egypt and intends to leave with the presidential elections scheduled for June 2012. Tantawi might indeed leave, but that does not mean SCAF will too. There are many in Egypt who believe that Tantawi will likely be replaced by America's favorite Egyptian General, Sami Anan. So again, with my vote, I confirm that I respect & agree with SCAF as an entity. I would be agreeing to Anan's rule, which I clearly don't.
I have many friends and relatives who have voted (Egyptians abroad) or who intend to vote and I respect their decision. My intention is not to impose my will on others, but to clarify to fellow Egyptian brothers and sisters, who might be as confused as I have been over the past few days, why NOT VOTING does not mean we are abandoning our country.
If anything, I believe by refusing to vote, I am confirming my love and respect for Egypt and my genuine desire to be able to live in a military-free Egypt with true democracy & not merely a claim of democratic rule given by brutal military leaders who have shown no compassion for the people of their country and who have been against January 25 all along.