Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Egyptians Defend their Revolution
By Monica Hill
Freedom Socialist, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 4,
Outraged Egyptians took to the streets in January 2011 and
toppled their military dictator of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak. Ever since, they
have been in the streets and the face of Egypt’s successive rulers.
First, they challenged the powerful and wealthy military elite who
discredited themselves early on by resuming repression and business as
usual. Now they are taking on President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim
Brotherhood (MB). These characters turned tepid popular support into active
hatred by dishing up more repression and austerity, and adding the sour
flavor of reactionary Islamism.
The mainstream Western press
portrays Egypt’s masses as exhausted and divided by religious beliefs, and
their revolution sputtering, without having achieved their goals of bread,
freedom, social justice ('aish, 'huriya, 'adala igtima'iya - Al-Jazeerah
In truth, Egypt’s revolution is far from over. When Morsi
tried to decree unto himself absolute power last November, mass protest
erupted. And “The Muslim Brotherhood has hijacked the revolution!” is still
a familiar cry in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the presidential palace, and
throughout the country.
The struggle is growing and maturing,
because while the faces at the top change, life remains intolerable for
those at the bottom — and the false promises of shifting regimes are being
By June 2012, the
Egyptian people had slogged through three national elections since the
insurrection. Electoral statistics over this period reveal that voters are
rapidly concluding that elections do not equal democracy after all.
Following the insurrection, 80 percent of Egyptians enthusiastically cast
ballots in a March 2011 referendum, said to be Egypt’s first election in
5,000 years. Only 52 percent voted in the Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012 parliamentary
election. And by summer, less than 20 percent of registered voters inked
their fingers in the final run-off for president. The election was rigged to
give voters only two “choices” — between the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi and
the military’s Shafiq, former prime minister under the toppled Mubarak.
A December 2012 referendum on the MB’s fast-tracked constitution is the
latest sham performance. Fatma Ramadan, a strike committee leader from the
Federation of Independent Trade Unions, said, “This constitution is biased
in favour of the rich against the poor. It is in favour of the powerful
against the powerless and the rulers against the ruled.”
opposed, this recycled constitution was written by and for the military and
political Islamists. As the opposition notes, it enshrines sharia Islamic
law, notorious for violating the rights of women and minorities.
The constitution seemingly won by 64 percent — but only a third of the
eligible population voted! Though most Egyptians come from a Muslim
background, they want a secular state, not a military theocracy.
Ruling class cohorts.
The tumult over the last 24 months has
brilliantly exposed the collaboration between Egyptian business and military
elites, rightwing and fascist religious fundamentalists, and Western
imperialism. Indeed, the aid and investment pouring into Egypt and Tunisia
from leading Western powers is a good measure of how desperate
counter-revolutionary forces are to halt the Arab Spring.
6-month-old MB regime could never have emerged without approval and money
from the United States. Both the military and MB regime follow the dictates
of the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund. In return for big money
loans to dictators and presidents, the IMF demands the withdrawal of
critical social and public services to pay back the loans. Neo-liberalism
they call it.
Both the military and MB have brutally suppressed
labor strikes, killed and wounded hundreds of protesters, and arrested and
tortured many more. Women dissidents are especially targeted for thug
attacks in public and sexual torture in jail.
Despite this, some
voters, even some leftists, still cling to the illusion that Morsi’s
election represents a “lesser evil” to military control.
Simultaneously, the U.S. media and politicos gloss over the longstanding
role of the U.S. in the Middle East, backing far-right Islamists as a means
to destabilize leftist governments. In just one example, U.S. Secretary of
State John Foster Dulles maneuvered with the Muslim Brotherhood after
Egypt’s victory in the Suez war of 1956 in hopes of disrupting
then-President Nasser’s Arab nationalist victory.
Despite military and political repression, the movement
is far from defeated. In November, Morsi was forced to rescind his decree
giving himself unchecked powers.
Independent unions are exploding
throughout the country in direct defiance to the state-controlled Egyptian
Trade Union Federation. Three million workers are in 800 independent trade
unions today — up from four independent unions before the 2011 uprising.
They have organized into the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions
and the Egyptian Democratic Labor Congress. They include unions for
fishermen, artisans, farmers, policemen, domestic workers, street vendors,
garbage collectors, teachers, textile, hospital, and media workers, the
unemployed, and more.
In October 2012 there were more than 1,000
strikes. In November, metro workers brought Cairo to a standstill.
Meanwhile, students still protest and strike regularly at Tahrir Square and
on campuses, notably at American University of Cairo, Nile University and
The future holds…?
Egyptians know that
they need to go beyond replacing one section of the ruling class with
The status of women is a barometer of this revolutionary
process. Their leadership has been instrumental from the beginning. And now,
as the military and MB try to drag them from the front lines of the
resistance, female demonstrators and their male supporters are fiercely
defending their right to fight for justice in public. Feminism is thus an
essential weapon of the masses against counter-revolutionary forces.
Real forward movement for Egypt’s revolution also requires building a
socialist revolutionary party. The ruling class has money and military might
on its side. To counteract these advantages will take the working-class
consciousness, premeditation and planning that only a party can provide.
Out of the militant independent union and student movements will come
the political radicals so vital to building such a party.
Hill can be emailed at
Freedom Socialist newspaper, Vol. 34, No. 1, February-March 2013