Although the Muslim Brotherhood has claimed victory of their candidate Mohammed Morsi as the next president of Egypt, it is the ruling military or SCAF that is the real player and game changer in these elections as well as the future of Egypt. It has granted itself sweeping powers over government ahead of election results drawing the anger of many in the opposition, some equating it to a military dictatorship. Earlier in the week, SCAF had dissolved the Brotherhood-led parliament, sending shockwaves to an already shaken election. In response to that dangerous action, human rights activist Hossam Bahgat posted on his Twitter account, “Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup.”
As an indication of the revolutionaries’ state of mind, Bahgat continued, “We’d be outraged if we weren’t exhausted.” A sentiment that describes accurately the millions of disappointed sons and daughters of the revolution who labored hard throughout 2011 and to date, first to remove Hosni Mubarak from power and then bring much needed change to their country and their lives. They are exhausted and yet have nothing to show for it. Their energy is too depleted to show how outraged they are at the fact that the military is ruling their nation unabashed, while the first democratic election brought to power the Muslim Brotherhood. A party illegal under Mubarak had no significant contribution to the revolution and even promised not to have a candidate for office. And yet, here we are.
So how was this possible and what does this say about the Arab happenings of the past year and a half whether one calls them awakenings or revolts or uprisings? What message does Egypt’s presidential election send to activists whose freedom fight is still in its planning stages or those in full swing such as in Syria or Bahrain?
Instead of cheering the election, many find themselves reminiscing on the fever of Tahrir Square just over a year ago and the surreal fall of Hosni Mubarak. The chants and cheers still resonate in our ears; the demand for change, real democracy and prosperity and the dream of being free from the shackles of the Mubarak dictatorship. Those sounds are now replaced by voices of concern and a rush to action as the next few days and weeks are key to the new Egypt. They might even prove to be more significant to charting the future of Egypt than the historic events of 2011.