Egypt Independent

On treason and patriotism



Patriotism has never been about accusing others of treason or leveling baseless charges. Patriotism is a deep feeling that one feels towards his/her country without needing to prove it with theatrics.

We were all shocked when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’s (SCAF) recently accused the 6 April Youth Movement of treason in a military communique. The 6 April youth played an important role in mobilizing protests to topple Hosni Mubarak’s regime. They are true patriots.

To make matters worse, a member of the military council soon afterwards accused Kifaya (The Egyptian Movement for Change), of which I'm proudly a founding member, of being an arm for an international organization, a silly charge seeing as how Kifaya has actually inspired street protests outside of Egypt.

The people making these accusation fail to ask themselves why respected Egyptian figures — like the late Mohamed Sayyid Said, Ahmed al-Naggar, Diaa Rashwan, and Mohamed Saeed Idris — all signed Kifaya’s founding statement in 2004 or why these people decided to engage in protests under Mubarak despite the heavy risks involved. I know of no personal benefit to be gained by joining Kifaya. The only thing motivating its founders was a sincere conviction that the group could pave the way for political reform in Egypt.

Likewise, the 6 April Youth Movement is made up of youth who want the best for their country. We don’t have to agree with all their political orientations, but their patriotism should not be questioned. The 6 April Youth Movement is not a wealthy organization by any standards. I was invited several times to speak at their events. Had invited speakers not agreed to come at their own expense to venues that were always free-of-charge, these events would have never happened.

That said, I take issue with the recent decision by some protesters to hold a rally in front of Egypt's military headquarters. Egypt cannot withstand any disturbances to its national army or any threats to the state. It makes little sense to organize protests in the northern military district of Alexandria or outside the Defense Ministry in Cairo at this time. The military is the last remaining institution of the Egyptian state; if it falls we will shed blood, not tears.

Over the past 50 years, all successful transitions to democracy have involved the toppling regimes but not the dismantling of states. We must be well aware of this danger.

Translated and abridged from the Arabic Edition.