Egypt is not a country that encourages its citizens to develop an alternative approach to challenging government policies; being a brave politician is all that it takes to challenge the government, regardless of any facts. Since every development project has its pros and cons, it is easy to criticize a given project by highlighting its weak points, irrespective of its actual success or failure. Sometimes, turning a deaf ear to the opposition can be more effective than the harsh treatment that the state reserves for certain politicians.
Egypt is a nation truly lacking in political maturity, which leads to the misevaluation of political actions and arguments. Many of the political disputes widely debated by Egyptians on social media require a government response, while others should be ignored, but the state seldom makes this distinction. Only a few Egyptian politicians who are in power are truly aware of accurate political developments, the rest are simply creating hypothetical scenarios that need to be classified by the state somehow.
The Egyptian state’s current political stance is an extremely determined one. The state (in its view, obviously) has recently had an unpleasant experience with containing and tolerating the opposition, resulting in it completely losing its grip on society and culminating in the 2011 revolution and its political consequences. Yet the state does not realize that the philosophy applied during the Mubarak era, which allowed him to rule for three decades, cannot be repeated easily.
In many nations, the state tends to mobilize citizens by intelligently persuading them of its goals. In Egypt, we exert pressure on the political opposition, causing it to escalate its criticism of our government’s policies, and erroneously believe that imprisoning a few opposition figures (in spite of the fact that most of them contributed substantially to establishing the state’s new political foundation after June 30, 2013) will intimidate the entire society.
Stability is crucial to nation’s future but the state’s present provocative stance could have the opposite effect — rather than promoting stability, it is shaking the leaders’ hold on power.
The Egyptian state often attempts to pursue only one option: Muscle flexing. It believes that its strength lies in showing off its muscles, although on many occasions brainpower is required far more than muscle power. The state believes there is zero risk in its provocative approach. Claiming that it is quite powerful and has learnt its political lessons well over the past few years, the state is convinced all that is needed now is strong law enforcement, even if it is harshly applied.
Egypt desperately needs state stability. However, the state’s present provocative political stance could have the opposite effect; rather than promoting stability, it is shaking the state’s hold on power. Stability can only be realized by defusing tension among citizens, and the current policy of fueling citizens’ political beliefs and emotions places the entire nation at risk. The state has been regularly warning us that Egypt could fall at any time. A better way to address this threat would be to avoid engagement in every single political attempt made by the opposition.
The Egyptian state has adopted an all or nothing approach — an extremely risky attitude that works on inflaming the entire society. Tightening the ruling regime’s hold on Egyptians will either strengthen the state’s grip on society or cause it to lose its power completely. Culturally, Egypt has a resilient society that can endure much, but it could overreact unexpectedly at any moment. This scenario can be avoided by adopting fair and firm policies, not by implementing harsh, pitiless tactics.
- Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir