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3ala Fikra, This is an Anti-Military Blog Post

The purpose of this blog post is to break the barrier of fear that has been subconsciously built after we read the sad and somewhat scary news that came out today: Maikel Nabil has been sentenced to 3 years for “insulting” the military and spreading false news.

If I’m not arrested within the next 3 days for writing this, then you can go ahead and express yourself without worrying again (2ib2o ittamino 3alaya yareet).  If I am arrested though then start preparing “Free Amr Bassiouny!” posters for next Friday, and get the #FreeBassiouny hashtag trending on twitter and all that.  Oh, and I expect no less than 50,000 members on my Facebook page. =D

The following is a completely insult-free expression of my personal opinion, if anybody isn’t happy about it they can go ______ themselves (it wasn’t me!).

Why did we have a revolution bizzapt?!

We all forget to go back and think of the main reasons why we had this revolution, so let me remind you; they were  all political in nature.  This was not a revolution that started for economic reasons, we didn’t go out on the 25th and 28th saying we want cheap bread (because we were all well-off and coming from Dokki and Heliopolis), but we wanted to take the political system down.

Taking the political system down is a big word though, when you get into the nitty gritty it’s mainly the following:

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of assembly/expression/protest
  3. Freedom of press
  4. No torture
  5. The ability to choose our leaders
  6. Going after old regime’s corrupt leaders
  7. New constitution
  8. No more lies

Since the military took over, what of the above have we gained ground on? Let’s take them one by one.

1. Freedom of speech

Verdict: Worse than before.

Back in Mubarak’s days, they would have to cook something up on the guy who pissed them off.  For example, in Ayman Nour’s case, they had to cook some bogus fraud charges to give him a few years in jail, they couldn’t just straight up convict him of spreading “false” information about Mubarak’s regime’s corruption and all that.

Maikel got it straight-up though.  Nice and honest.

2. Freedom of assembly/expression/protest

Verdict: Same as before

This is a tricky one.  When Mubarak was around, we couldn’t really protest properly but it was 100% legal provided you liasied with or received a go-ahead from the ministry of interior before hand. Under the emergency law, which is now not in effect, assembly of several people was illegal, and so a “permit to assemble” was required. This didn’t mean of course that if things got out of control, riot police wouldn’t crack on you. They would. Whoever did got a good beating and maybe arrested, beaten and thrown in the middle of the desert to have to find his way back home (permit or not, if they don’t like it the response would be similar).

Under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) though, we can protest bira7itna, but they are treated as if they’re illegal (the law is vague enough to not really mean all protests are illegal, but pretty much any protest can be).  Every once in a while the military will go ahead and brutally attack everybody and arrest many and maybe even kill a few.  Then they will go around telling everybody it was the protesters who shot at them first  and that the protesters were hurt due to stones being thrown from other protesters (it doesn’t have to make sense).  Either way, there’s always a threat of having the law used against you, since it’s illegal to protest.

So in case 1 it’s legal to protest but you can’t, in case 2 it’s illegal to protest but you can.  I can’t make my mind up as to which one I would prefer.

I would say it’s a tie at this point, though I expect it to get worse in the coming future.

3. Freedom of Press

Verdict: Worse than before

Back in Mubarak’s days, there was always a clear line between who was saying the truth and who wasn’t, who was opposing the regime and who was getting orders from it.  Things have changed a little now, it seems that all those who used to oppose Mubarak in the past have now become 100% controlled by the military.

Considering Maikel Nabil only got a total of zero mentions in the newspapers, and zero mentions on TV (until the verdict was passed), I would say that is highly suggestive of a very serious level of control on the media.  Also, considering that Wednesday and Thursday always have the highest concentration of anti-bad guy news to appease the crowds before Friday, I would confidently raise an eyebrow to that.

I could go through tens of other points, but then things like spreading lies about April the 8th and what happened there as well as no mention of the officers that escaped is even more evidence that there are red lines that cannot be crossed.

Finally, some information got through to me from journalists working in liberal and privately-owned media outlets (trying to be very non-specific here) mentioned they had orders not to speak about the military negatively.  This link just came in to confirm this:

Also, articles written about Mubarak now are harder to get printed than ever, as they hold a high risk of libel considering the threat he issued recently about publishing “false” information about him.

4. No Torture

Verdict: Definitely a step up!

The police now are probably a lot more touchy feely about torturing people, and State Security isn’t half as powerful as they used to be, so torture by police is definitely down.

On the other hand, we have a far more posh and reputable torture scene going on these days. Instead of being tortured in an underground dungeon in SS Nasr City by rude SS officers, you get to be tortured by high-quality Egyptian Armed Forces in the historic Egyptian Museum in Tahrir.

Human rights groups and political activists are extremely happy about this improvement, and they have been buying cakes and sending them back and forth throughout the past month in celebration.

5. The ability to choose our leaders

Verdict: Same as before

If the Military didn’t think we should choose between them and a presidential council, then we don’t have a choice.  When we do, I’ll change the verdict to it being better than before.

Also, instead of creating a referendum and rigging it like Mubarak would, they made a referendum and then did whatever they had planned for as if the referendum never even happened.

They should have come out and said “Ba3taaaa!” like we used to do in highschool.  And if you don’t remember what a ba3ta is, it’s when you point to the left and say “An elephant!” and your friend looks to the far left and you say “Ba3taaa!” then point at him and laugh in his face.

6. Going after old regime’s corrupt leaders

Verdict: Same as before

They left Mubarak in his villa in Sharm El Sheikh probably using satellite phones to transfer his money and sell his assets all over the world, while they scapegoated relatively innocent ministers like Rashid Mohammed Rashid and Ahmed El Maghrabi and jumped them from day one.

It seems it was generally a show that they were staging for us, and continues to be.  They arrest specific people during strategic times to look like they’re doing something only when everybody starts getting angry, then nothing happens after.  Just like the good old days.

7. New Constitution

Verdict: Same as before

Do I really need to explain this one?

8. No more lies

Verdict: Same as before

Let’s just say that the SCAF have a very hard time not contradicting themselves several times on the same subject during a press conference. Nothing has changed on this point, the truth is only told if it works in their favor. I can be greedy about this point and go on and on about all the times where they said something and did the exact same opposite of what they were saying, but then I will simply mention three times where the opposite of the truth was told: Torture in museum, virginity tests and everything about April 8th in Tahrir.  That’s more than enough to act as proof for this subject.

Final Verdict:

5 Same as before          (63%)
2 Worse than before     (25%)
1 Better than before     (12%)

Overall, things are pretty much the same, if not worse.  The only thing we have today that is better is that peaceful protesters get to be tortured in an internationally-recognized tourist destination rather than an underground prison cell.


I would like to end this post with an actionable conclusion. Unfortunately though, the only action I regard as helpful is to to ask you all to continue protesting in Tahrir Square, and to my dismay that carries a hefty fine of up to 500,000 EGP or 1 year in prison. So, definitely don’t go protesting, that’s a horrible idea, because personally I don’t have 500,000 LE, which means I’ll end up spending a full 365 days in prison with Ahmed Ezz and Habeeb El Adly getting on my nerves, and that would be an epic #Fail situation.

All I will say is “hint hint” and “nudge nudge”.  Hinting and nudging are legal, right?  I didn’t say anything, I’m just saying …

Finally, I would like to say that none of the above represents my personal opinion in any way, shape or form.  In fact, everything written above is complete crap (just in case, you know).

و الله الموفق

Oh, and follow me on twitter for more on all my other personal opinions that I don’t believe in: @AmrBassiouny


26 responses to “3ala Fikra, This is an Anti-Military Blog Post

  1. Nahed April 11, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post; it’s very humorous yet dead serious. I feel quite confused on the army and its relationship to the people. Part of me wants to believe that the SCAF includes some honest people who speak the truth. But then every day we wake up to new violence and injustice by SCAF and the lack of transparency isn’t helping either! Which is why I felt your post helps us break down the main challenges we are facing.
    Now, let’s go to the next step and start to plan how to proceed from here.

  2. Tallulah April 11, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I follow you, and if you are arrested, I will be forced to hop on a plane, placard and banners in hand, and come to Egypt to protest outside their office. They certainly don’t want that…a crazed canuck chick with a stick in her hand… not a pretty picture!

    Listen, you are entitled to your opinion, as everyone is. It is time that dictatorial governments accept that fact, and stop trying to control people. If they are reading your blog, let them read this: The world is watching, Egyptian temporary government, and we really were thrilled when y’all were supportive of the people on Jan25. So stop with the heavy-handedness and let the people speak their minds. That is democracy, one of the things they fought for, and one of the benefits you will come to love yourselves.

    Hang in there, Amr, things will get better. The kinds of changes your country is asking for will take time, and education, and patience. But you guys will make it. We are cheering for you. Yalla!!

  3. Schnellinger April 12, 2011 at 12:19 am

    I’m not canuck, but I would be pleased to hold a banner as a crazed german also.

    Your points are very desillusional about whats going on in Egypt right now, Amr.
    One of the only differences to Mubarak at top is that we could see it better from the outside of Egypt what is going on.
    I really hope that people of Egypt can see it also and don’t stop demanding their rights. But without a free egyptian media that covers the events this will be not an easy thing.

  4. Mena Fransis April 12, 2011 at 12:58 am

    i like it to the extent i’am thinking twice before i retweet it, i mean in this case retweeting might not be the favour i can do 🙂

  5. Andrew April 12, 2011 at 2:49 am

    It is a difficult time in Egypt now, akin to the second phase of an anti-colonial revolution. At this time counter-revolution is a danger and it seems that with folks like you on the look out that possibility decreases. Keep up the good work, you fellah thug you! 🙂

  6. DementedBonxie April 12, 2011 at 8:02 am

    A bonxie is a very large bird, which takes special delight in divebombing people who annoy them. I’m following you.

    I’m demented enough to think that the military’s job is to clear the snow off our roads and pavements, and to entertain us with fancy dress parades, air shows, and to help out with sea & mountain rescues, or rubbish collection when workers are on strike. Apart from that they are confined to barracks. Now & again we let them out to play war games in other countries. They certainly don’t get to order us around, never mind send us to prison.

    I don’t know why other countries don’t copy us.

    If you’re worried that your authorities might consider me to be a bad influence on you, you can tell me to stop following you. I’d be disappointed, but I wouldn’t want to add to your troubles.

  7. aliloon April 12, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Loved it. But you know I’m a fan. And in three days, I’ll be writing my own well-deserved and SCAF-scathing diatribe. I’d be writing it now, but I am a bit busy. And if you get three years, I send cake monthly. Hope you like store bought because I can’t cook.

  8. Dalia Moustafa April 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Amr- let me start off by saying that I love your post and how you’ve genuinely presented your views of the current situation in Egypt. I can’t say that I was a great part of all the changes but really “been there, done that”…

    One thing that I want to bring your attention to though (and please don’t be offended this is PURELY my own personal opinion) is that Egypt is not all you, me, and others on facebook and twitter. They are the 41m people in this country that are living below the poverty line out of an 86m population. They are the uneducated, unfed, raging people who find this whole situation unchanging.

    My only concern here is that these people need some sort of system that they can believe in and rely on. They need the comfort zone that we are not giving them.

    So why don’t we give the governement (and by that I mean the Army) a chance to present their good will. They have been the rock that Tahrir Sq. relied on when things spiraled out of control. The Army’s role is not to rule (in your face Mubarak) they are there to protect our borders, they are there to protect us! However, they are now put in a position to rule until the elections… That or we will be an open land for foreign interference.

    We have already proved that we (even though we were quiet for a very long time) can’t be held silent for long. We have already proved that we are the people and that the people have the right to rule.

    I have to agree with the Army on this one… Enough protests! Two things should be our main focus until the next presidential elections:
    1. The 41m
    2. The Egyptian economy

    The Egyptian economy has a strong foundation that I would like to see untouched.

    This country has great potential, we have resources that no other country enjoys; the Nile, tourism, cement, Suez Canal, gas supply, vacation hotspots such as Sharm and Hurgada, an attraction to outsourcers and investors and farmland to name a few. We are a country that has it all and our value proposition is strong and solid.

    I strongly believe that our focus until the next presidential elections should be on rebuilding Egypt and on using our endless resources in making this country the number one peace-led country in the world.

    Lets wait till the elections are through and if our sane, logical demands are not met I promise to be the first person in Tahrir Sq.

    Lets give time for change to happen… It was a 30yr long reign that cant be changed over night… Lets focus on fixing Egypt in 10yrs.

    • Amr Bassiouny April 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      That was a very well-written response, and I can see your point and what you’re trying to say. But then if you look at it from a purely objective viewpoint, they are not directly related. Ending torture has nothing to do with having more efficient bread-production in Asyut. Freedom of speech has nothing to do with minimum wage (in fact, it helps publicize it).

      Get what I’m trying to say? They are no less important, and not directly related to each other (but are connected indirectly). There is no good excuse to delay these demands, in my opinion.

    • Tarik Salama April 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      I will try to be short miss Dalia. First, the army in no way should shape our future. People are exclusively the ones that have this privilege. Secondly, populist talk is always without merit, especially that as you said people are “..uneducated, unfed, etc…”. Why should you consider that the people “living below poverty line” would prefer being ruled by a “military elite” rather than an “intellectual civil elite”? May I remind you as an example that India a similar country in the percentage of people under poverty line, is a democracy ruled by an intellectual elite and rather successfully compared to Pakistan, a failing use to be democracy, ruled by a military elite and is becoming now a nightmare….
      Last, it’s really an imaginary concept of saying that we should protect ourselves from “foreign influence” and that the army is our our protector. What is happening is exactly the contrary, and any simple analysis of current affairs will undoutbly prove it. Of course not to be wrongly quoted by army I mean the army of the republic of Uzbekistan…..

      • Dalia Moustafa April 21, 2011 at 7:15 am

        Amr- thank you for understanding my point however, I have to disagree with you. Everything is interrelated. I am just afraid that we might fall in to the pit of “divide and conquer”- this is one place I honestly don’t want to be in. I think we have already proved that the people’s voice is louder than anyone else’s. The “unfed, uneducated” are important because they shape up half of our population. We need educate them- basic education- in order to be able to make them more politically aware so that they can liberally choose and have a voice to “voice”. Look at what is happening now in Quena. This is a great example of what the country will turn into. We are now talking religion and we should not be. Egypt is a country that welcomes all religions. There is no place for racism.

        Tarik- please, don’t call me Miss Dalia, my name is Dalia and I’m purely stating an opinion here :). I, in no shape or form, am calling for the army to “shape our lives”. The people have the right to dictate what happens in their lives. All I’m trying to say (and maybe I was not very explicit in explaining- please accept my apology) is that we should wait until the presidential elections. We have a LOOOONG way ahead of us to bring this country back to the days of glory! I’m calling for a “civil led” society and that is something that will be determined in the upcoming presidential elections.

        Finally, the army is there to “protect us”… Their role is to protect our borders and protect us from “foreign interference”. Their role is not to rule, their role is not to catch criminals or make decisions regarding politics or economy. Imagine our country w/ out the army. Let’s not look at the army as our “boss” but rather as our partners until we get through these tough times.

        Now a question for both of you- who do you believe should keep the peace until the presidential elections?

    • steve52 May 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

      Human dignity and human goodness should not have to be waited for. The time is now. Tell all those in prison to wait maybe 10 years and we will wait and see what happens. No way. The army is self serving and they know exactly what they are doing by denying the people of Egypt common rights.

      • Dalia Moustafa May 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm

        What common rights?! They are in no position to rule us… Don’t put them in that position. By hating or liking them you are empowering them to feel like they are in power.

        They are a TRANSITIONAL government…


        Love and appreciation-

        Dalia Moustafa

      • Amr Bassiouny May 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm

        The fact is that they are ruling us, and we need to change things before the next government comes in to avoid having a repeat of Mubarak’s system. Anyways, we can agree to disagree :).

  9. Tarik Salama April 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Excellent article. I always am amazed by the common misunderstanding of what is in reality Jan 25 revolution. Revolutionary forces and silent majority do not realize that their demands for a better life, including democratic reform is in clear contradiction with what was all about the Mubarak regime, the extensin of the July 52 military Coup d’ètat. The SCAF, was created to manage the internal affairs of the army and in no way to act as the representative of the army institution with the civil authority. This was proven by the amazing ignorance, lack of readiness and inflexibility shown in the past month dealing with current events. It goes without saying that all deficiencies in the Egyptian state pre-Jan 25 are basically the result of the mentality of soldiers and “chain of command” decision process. Now before ever, it’s an absolute necessity to change the relationship of civil political forces, using the momentum of the revolution, and the army institution. In a modern democratic state, army is to be under control of civil will and supervision. This principle is to be implemented at any cost, otherwise the basic demand for equality between all citizens, including army personel, would be breached….
    *note: the above note is imaginary. Any similarity with current or past events, persons, institution or objects is purely coincidental. It’s the result of a sick mind under the influence of stress, lack of sexual activity and consuption of commercial grade medium strength alcoholic beverages.

  10. Derek April 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I enjoyed reading this post. Anything to continue breaking through the ever-morphing “barrier of fear” ought to be applauded, undoubtedly.

    However, I think quite a lot has been left out. Let also also factor in the conditions of workers, the minimum wage, the right to strike, the end to the neoliberal privatization agenda that enriches the few at the expense of the workers, agrarian reform for the rural majority, etc. Those also ought to be criteria through which we “grade” the progress of the revolution.

    “Until industrial democracy replaces industrial feudalism, politics will remain the shadow cast over society by big business.”

    Great post, but I hope when we analyze the revolution we, like the thousands upon thousands of workers across Egypt on strike and forming independent unions, use the criteria of the workers, of the peasants, and not simply of the middle-class and elite reformers (not to diminish the importance of goals like political democratization, etc.). Revolutionaries who only carry out half a revolution are digging their own graves.

    Continue the struggle, Egypt has inspired us all! Thank you for that!

  11. SamB April 13, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Really liked your article and have a great deal of respect for your opinion. I do think we need to keep the pressure up and we need not to loose sight of why this revolution took place. Torture and violation of human rights should not be accepted in any way or form. However, I do believe that we have to be wise in the way we make our demands. It is quite obvious that members of the SCAF have fragile egos. It is also obvious that self preservation is on the top of their list. So rather than call for their removal, we should strongly assert our demands. Fri. protests with a clear list of demands and a large turnout has been effective so far. We should pursue all possible legal channels to raise these demand, but clashing with them head on, will be of no use to anyone at this stage.

  12. dimah mahmoud April 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Excellent piece Amr. So refreshing to read and realise that the struggle continues. Great analysis of the current situation and common sense says this revolution is not yet over…the wave of freedom has taken over our region and we will no longer be silent..we must remember that mubarak and his cronies were/are not the only ones with skeleton’s in their closet…just like the people share some responsibility in the continuity of such a shameful leadership so does the army; the army’s job is to protect the people but if we think their job is only to protect us against foreign entities we’re mistaken…the army is presented with a golden opportunity now but instead of pouncing they continue to try balancing between the good and bad cop…they seem to think people are exhausted and will soon give up (like some already have) what they fail to realise, however, is that people’s exhaustion has well passed the point of no return. The question remains are we loud, practical and efficient enough to be heard?
    There is more to say and much much more to do, but for now we can keep our e-fronts sharp and ready to fire. Peace to the nation of people who lived,fought,taught and died for peace. Respect.

  13. salma April 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    This is pretty brilliant. But humor and jokes aside, THANK YOU. I feel like a lot of people receded back into the old mentality of settling for whatever is handed to them and it’s refreshing to see that someone hasn’t. We are losing momentum as we get further away from Jan25 and that’s truly a shame because the revolution is only just beginning.
    The military is looking more and more like the old regime in terms of the way they are addressing the people. Mubarak insulted our intelligence continuously during the protests with his annoying speeches and the military seems to be doing the same thing with its excuses (protestors hurting each other with rocks…yeah, okay…because we all know that happens ALL the time).
    The attitude we need to embody now is that temporary security is not nearly as important as freedom. The people that are looking for temporary security will lose both. You have our support to continue not bashing the military.

    • Amr Bassiouny April 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      I’m glad you will support me in supporting the military in all its negative endeavors. I will continue to praise them in every way possible by writing pro-military blogs on a regular basis. 😀

  14. Myriam Zaki April 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Sent by Salma Nagy on my facebook account I thought I might share with you
    Interesting meeting, personally I think it’s a reminder that we should stay alert and not just relax and assume the army -or anyone else for that matter- will make the changes the revolution happened for! Old mentalities are still live and kicking…
    مقابلة بثينة كامل (مذيعة و ناشطة و مرشحة للرئاسة) مع اللواء اسماعيل عتمان
    الاتي تجميع لما كتبته بثينة كامل علي تويتر عن مقابلتها مع اللواء اسماعيل عتمان و اتهاماته للثوار الكلام كله لبثينة دون اي تغيير مني “انا مصدومة مكلومة لسه خارجة من مقابلة مع اللواء اسماعيل عتمان اتهم الثوار بالعمالة وان احنا قبضنا بالدولار ف التحرير خرجت ورزعت الباب ورايا” “ اللي وجعني اكتر رحلتي للفيوم حال المصريين البائس حتشوفوه فيديو واسماعيل عتمان باشا قاعد ملك فقصربيمدحلي فوطنية عباللطيف ثورتنامستمرة” “ الجيش لازم يطهر نفسه لازم نعرف مين مع النظام البائد ومين ضد الثورة” “بيقوللي اسماعيل عتمان احنا علاقتنا فلة بالثوار بس انتم كنتم بتقبضو فالتحرير بالدولار كمان الثورة لازم تنضف نفسها من المهرولين” “ده انا بكيت بكا من القهرة خصوصا بعداللي شفته في الشيخ حسن و ده قاعد فقصر و يقولك الفاش تاج لول وقلت للعساكر مبارك لسه جوة” “ ولما باقوله علي كشف العذرية عالناشطات بيقوللي ده البنات كانوا بيناموا مع بعض ف التحرير قلتله انت بتطعن فبنتي” “تخيل اني قلتلو ماتطلعوا ملفاتنا لوماسكين حاجة علينا و فعلا حسيته مرتضي منصور انت جبت نفس احساسي بالظبط” “المناوي عميل مزدوج خان اسياده جمال و الفقي كي يكسب بنط عند الجيش و لو كانت السعودية لفعلها ايضا فانا اعرفه جيدا و لم يكن وطنيا” “اللي حسيته انه بعد شوية حيطلعولنا ثوار من عندهم ده قعد يقوللي انت ماكنتيش اصلا فميدان” “ افتكرت دلوقتي ايه اللي نرفز اللوا عتمان :لما قلتله مش حننسي ان الدبابات مدافعها كانت متوجهة للميدان يوم ٢/٢” “ مانا برضه قتلته لمابيقوللي اننا قبضنا دولارات فالميدان/بالترليون و ال٤..الف المعونات الامريكية” “ بصو ارجوكم بلاش تعميم ونقول جيش الجيش جزء من مصر و زي كل مكان فيه و فيه و عتمان بقايا النظام” “ شوف انا جبتلكم اخره بصراحتي معاه هو كان طالب يقابلني عشان يصححلي قصوري وعدم فهمي و يستقطبني” “ قلتله انت بتطعن فشرف بنتي فقاللي انت اصلا ماكنتيش فالميدان احنانعرف الثوار و علاقتنا بيهم زي الفل” “ مكنتيش فالميدان ده ابسط شئ سمعته لكن قابضين بالدولار و البنات بينامو و مع بعض و منظمات حقوق الانسان العملا” “ماسكتش طبعا قلتله طلع ملفاتنا اللي كانت فامن دولة و لو عندك سيديهات و قمت و رزعت باب المكتب ورايا”
    By: Salma Nagy

  15. Dalia Moustafa June 2, 2011 at 11:26 am

    lol 🙂 nicley put Amr- Would love to agree to disagree…

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