Intimidated Opposition

The presence of political opposition in any society is a healthy indicator of a functioning, pluralistic, political environment. Through the channels of open dialogue and public discourse, the participation of political opponents contributes positively to the experience of democratic governance. In fact, political opposition has often proven integral to the insurance of political stability through the promotion of social, economic, and political development, the preservation of security through inclusion, and the advancement of citizens' rights.

In light of this common knowledge, the question must be asked whether or not it is truly beneficial to declare war on any and all opposition to the current political regime? Is it truly beneficial to demonize the opposition and equate them with traitors, spies, and declare them enemies against the State? Is it truly beneficial to promote an anti-opposition propaganda that completely diminishes the capacity of political inclusion to promote the rights of the individual and the development of a nation?

The anti-opposition rhetoric, adopted by many regimes before this one, has, unfortunately, once again become broadly believed by the public. As a result, the opposition stands in the shadows, almost ashamed to differ from the rhetoric of the mainstream. In this restrictive atmosphere, the rights to think and speak freely have come to no longer exist in the face of forced silence. 

Do we not ask ourselves, even if only once, why it is that politicians and scholars alike, completely at odds with the Brotherhood, resort to the use of religious venues and otherwise marginalized media outlets to be heard? Do we not question the impact of our mistreatment of foreign journalists on our relationships with other countries?

In the face of the State's looming approach to political opposition, many within the political arena have reached disheartening conclusions, and have decided to withdraw from, and boycott, the upcoming Presidential elections. I have never personally supported the idea of boycotting elections. Throughout my political career, as documented in all of my interviews and conferences, (including my most recent conference announcing my withdrawal as a Presidential candidate), I have strongly encouraged and emphasized the importance of political participation.

It is of the utmost importance that we emphasize the distinction between political opposition and those who would plot against the State. Where the first is a healthy indicator of an inclusive and constructive political environment, there is no room for the second. Egyptians, in all of our sectors and ideologies, remain loyal to the sovereignty and well being of Egypt as our home, and aim to work towards its betterment on a daily basis. There is no ideological monopoly on patriotism, for it takes many forms, and it is when the many mechanisms of patriotism work together that real progress can be achieved. 

Dear colleagues, any political environment should resemble the changing seasons, yet there remains a deadlock born of mistrust, fabricated conspiracies, and accusations of treason. Under no circumstances is the alienation and criminalization of those who differ in opinion beneficial to sound governance.

History stands witness to the successes and failures of every President that has faced the challenges and circumstances of their time. Gamal Abdul Nasser both succeed and failed during his Presidency, as did Anwar El Sadat, Husni Mubarak, and President El Sisi. To point out the short-comings of President El Sisi, so that they may be addressed and overcome, does not mean that the opposition does not support the President, and it does not mean that they do not support the well being of the State. In this regard, the Egyptian opposition is neither required to join the ranks of those who unconditionally support the current regime, nor are they required to be lost between fear and doing their job. 

Will this intimidating atmosphere change after the Presidential elections, and will Egypt's politics become more inclusive again? Or will this stubborn policy of brute force persist? I choose to be hopeful.

Mohamed Anwar El Sadat


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