Egyptian Reformists Facing Harsh Realities
by IPT News • Mar 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm
Egyptians overwhelmingly approved changes to their Constitution during a weekend referendum. Those changes play into the hands of former President Hosni Mubarak's old party and the Muslim Brotherhood and against the younger reformists whose peaceful protests toppled the regime.
That schedule offers little time for fledgling parties to organize and get their message out, while the Brotherhood and the National Democratic Party (NDP) have both money and organizations in place. Both groups strongly pushed for the referendum's passage.
Rather than wallow in the results, a vocal opponent of both entrenched powers is choosing to accentuate the positive. Mahmoud Salem, who blogs under the name "Sandmonkey," issued a compelling call to action in the wake of the vote urging people to "see it as the gift it is."
The referendum provides data showing how people voted in districts throughout the country. Analysis of that information will help younger, more secular reformists plot their strategies and develop their message. "We have a nation-wide base," Salem wrote. "Sure, 20%, is small, but it's not insignificant, and you can totally build on it."
Those who took to the streets to topple a dictator need to "stop playing revolution, and start playing politics for the sake of the country." That means advocating causes that resonate throughout society – like a minimum wage – and taking on the entrenched political powers including the Brotherhood.
For the Brotherhood, Salem recommends that reformists remind voters that "they wanted to ban books and music videos and the net. Tell people what Hamas- the MB of Ghaza- did t the population the moment they seized power (No music, No shisha, no concerts, no free media, intimidation and fear). Start creating banners accusing them of being agents for wanting to sell the country's soul to the Gulfies, and start asking loudly where their seemingly endless money comes from during this economic crisis."
To have any success, reformists need money. "The NDP has all the money they stole from the country and the MB has all the money they get from Saudi & Qatar, so we need to get our own. Hit up for donations everyone you know in Egypt who isn't interested returning the corrupt to power or having this country turn into a theocracy."
That doesn't mean religious leaders should be ignored. Salem wants reformists to court them and build coalitions on economic issues to win popular support. While it would be ideal to separate religion and politics, that's not yet practical in Egypt, Salem argued. "We are religious people, and whether we like it or not, Imams and Priests are community leaders. We have to engage them, get them on our side and have them help us with the hearts and minds of their flock."
The essay is pragmatic and well worth reading in its entirety here. But note that a blogger who calls himself "Sandmonkey" is prone to writing in irreverent, sometimes profane language.