In the Al Shorouk article entitled “Copts Are Living Their Second Golden Age Under Mubarak” dated July 30, Dr. Mostafa El Fiky, head of the foreign affairs committee of the People’s Assembly of the Egyptian parliament demonstrates in large part what is so wrong with Egypt’s current “statesmen.”
In the article, El Fiky explains why he stands by his original position that he cannot accept a Copt as president of Egypt because rulers should be from “the majority.” El Fiky first expressed this idea during a session held at the St. Mark church in Fairfax, Virginia, an irony given that the first African American president with a Muslim father had just been elected to the most powerful office in the United States—and some would argue the world. In this article, El Fiky again stated what he considered to be the requirement that the president be of “the majority”—whatever that means—a practice which is apparently adhered to worldwide, adding that the “US has never had a Jewish president.” What is interesting here is not El Fiky’s glaring inaccuracy in characterizing the entire world, and his comfort in predicting the future regarding a US president never being Jewish, but his outright racism masked as logic.
Having a Copt as president is not a realistic demand at this time; Copts know this most of all. What is a realistic demand, however, is that a statesman not hold the position of precluding a significant portion of the population from an elected governmental position outright and as principle in our modern world, and at a time when sectarian strife is of major concern in Egypt. This is especially troubling given that this government holds itself out as the “secular” alternative to religiously based political movements, characterizing the latter as “exclusive and racist” for holding positions such as…excluding Copts from the presidency!
Furthermore, it is interesting that when we talk about rights, Copts are suddenly a “minority” again, when the entire governmental discourse rests on the notion that Copts are not a minority, but an inextricable component of the national fabric, that knows no difference in religion. It seems that when it comes to claims of discrimination, Copts will never be considered a minority, yet when it comes to assertion of rights, Copts will always remain the “minority,” which by definition precludes them from positions of power over the “majority.”
Even if one were to consider majority rule logical, democracy means more than that—democracy entails protecting and safeguarding the rights of minorities. Safeguarding the rights of minorities includes, among other things, equal protection of the law and fair representation in substantive positions of leadership in both government and society, two things which are conspicuously absent from contemporary Egypt.
El Fiky then proceeds to say that “a girl, whose name I do not now recall, attacked Egypt viciously, and her tone indicated her enmity to Egypt more than her hatred for the regime, and here it became necessary to worry and point out to her that her words were part of an agenda directed against the homeland, because her words were inciting: inciting to Copts, inciting to Baha’is, and inciting to cut off aid.” According to El Fiky, I insulted Egypt, and said that El Fiky was “misguiding” the audience, despite the fact that his words were “fair and balanced,” and that my words could subject me to legal liability.
First, Dr. El Fiky: I congratulate you for bestowing me with this badge of honor by using the oldest trick in the book of authoritarian regimes and those who cannot tolerate dissent: calling those who disagree with you “traitors,” and appointing yourselves arbiters of patriotism. It would be pointless to defend my love for Egypt, as that is something that is beyond dispute for all those who know me slightly—furthermore, the entire incident was caught on tape and is available so I would challenge you to pointing out to me just where anything I said remotely spoke to “enmity for Egypt,” as opposed to genuine concern for the current state of things in our beloved homeland.
Second, do not make the mistake of conflating yourself with Egypt or “the homeland.” In pharoahnic style, Egyptian rulers, and even those who are part of the ruling regime, have recently taken to characterizing personal challenges and critiques as attacks on Egypt, and morphing their egos with the status of the Egyptian homeland. You are not Egypt—not by a long shot.
Third, Dr. El Fiky: you are well aware that my question concerning the absence of democratic governance is what angered you because it got to the heart of the problem. Yet, in true Egyptian regime fashion, those who question corruption and poor governance are the problem—not corruption and poor governance. I am a threat to the homeland, Dr. El Fiky, but not corruption, tyranny, poverty, a broken educational system, dismal literacy rates, absence of justice and rule of law, absence of respect for human dignity? I urge you, Dr. El Fiky, as someone who has some agency over how Egyptians will meet their grim looking future, to consider these matters more, and worry less about those of us that are crying in the wilderness for our homeland. Be angry with the state of things in Egypt, rather than over your own pride or self-interest. Please explore “the agenda against the homeland”—by looking inward first.