Between the mystic and the oppressed: Hammour Ziada’s world story of the marginalised

The novel is the story of Bakheet Mandil, a slave freed after the British troops, aided by Egyptian and Turkish troops, defeated the army of the Mahdi in the Battle of Kerreri, North of Omdurman.

In his novels, Ziada tells the stories of the marginalised. (Handout Photo)
In his novels, Ziada tells the stories of the marginalised.
(Handout Photo)

By Omneya El-Naggar

Tall, slim and eloquent, Hammour Ziada is very precise with words. He describes himself as a chronicler who narrates pleasurable stories. The serene smile on his face and the confident tone of his voice do not hide though a restless soul that has dug hard at the core of the essential questions of existence.

“There is no certainty. Man can never be certain of what he believes in or of the results of his actions. He is destined to head towards an uncertainty that he can never grasp with his present consciousness,” says Ziada.

He thinks that this is the problem of the faithful; even for them there is no certainty. However, Ziada does not paint a gloomy world of doubt; there is a way out. All what man can do and has to do, is to create an own will and seek its fulfilment. He adds, “There are levels of doubts; one can ignore them and continue to move on the road carved for oneself in this uncertain world. Only at the end of the road, one can know the answer to their seeking”.

With this Weltanschauung, Hammour Ziada writes his second novel “The Longing of the Dervish”. The novel won the 19th edition of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. It was also shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, an Emirati-funded prize, known in the Arab literary circles as the Arabic Booker Prize.

The novel won the 19th edition of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature (Photo Public Domain)
The novel won the 19th edition of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature
(Photo Public Domain)

The novel is the story of Bakheet Mandil, a slave freed after the British troops, aided by Egyptian and Turkish troops, defeated the army of the Mahdi in the Battle of Kerreri, North of Omdurman. When the prisoners of El-Sayer started fleeing their cells in September 1898, Bakheet thought of only one goal: to avenge the death of his beloved Theodora or ‘Hawwa’.   He did not feel free; vengeance stood as the only obstacle against his freedom.

Set in 19th century Mahdist Sudan, “The Longing of the Dervish” draws heavily on the historical and spiritual symbolism of an important era of the modern Sudanese history. Imam Muhammad Ahmad Ibn Abdullah proclaimed himself the Mahdi or the Islamic redeemer of the Islamic faith in 1881. He established the Mahdiyya Movement, and his message gained a huge popularity that marked the beginning of national sentiment in Sudan. In addition to his call for the reform of Islam, Imam Al-Mahdi mobilised the nationalist sentiments of the Sudanese people beyond their ethnic, tribal and denominational affiliations to fight against the Turco-Egyptian colonisers.

The self-proclaimed Mahdi and his followers, known also as the ansaar and the dervishes, managed to overtake Khartoum after a ten-month siege from March 1884 to January 1885. They defeated the Egyptian soldiers and established the Mahdist state that was based on the Shari’alaw. Imam Al-Mahdi died soon after from typhoid, and was followed by Imam Abdul Raham Al-Ta’aishi who was killed in 1899, soon after the British troops re-conquered Khartoum and put an end to the Mahdist rule.

The plot of the novel is set during the time of the fall of the Mahdist state and the vanishing of the dream of liberation. Even Bakheet Mandil, who is newly liberated, does not recognise his freedom yet. He awaits a new life: only vengeance can grant him freedom. When he is asked by Gohar, his prison inmate, what his crime was, he avows: “My crime is love.”

The last days of the collapse of the Mahdist state witness violence all over Sudan as well as a sense of identity loss. Ziada’s characters are caught in this identity crisis. No one knows what brought them on a road that no longer reflects their aspirations. All of the characters dwell on a spiritual journey, hoping to find a remedy for their wounds. The symbolic use of the words of the great Andalusian mystic Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi sheds light on the path the characters chose in their lives. The first lines carry his wisdom: “Every longing that is quieted by the meeting with what was longed for can’t be relied upon.”

This longing haunts every character. All of them seem to be dervishes who have willingly left the circles of dhikr or remembrance of God that is the essence of Sufism. They have become dervishes of their own obsessions. Bakheet is obsessed with Theodora, Theodora is obsessed with the need to redress “God’s lost black sheep” in Khartoum, Marisila is obsessed with Bakheet, and Al-Hassan Al-Grifawy is obsessed with the message of the Mahdi and his call for the holy war.

Like Bakheet, Theodora chose her obsession. She is working for the service of God. An Alexandrian-born Greek, she finds herself heading to Sudan as a missionary. With the fall of Khartoum to the Mahdi’s army, she becomes the slave of Ibrahim wad Al-Shawwak. When she plots her escape, she is betrayed by Younes, who will hand her over to the latter to be murdered brutally.

The plot of the novel is set during the time of the fall of the Mahdist state and the vanishing of the dream of liberation (Photo Public domain)
The plot of the novel is set during the time of the fall of the Mahdist state and the vanishing of the dream of liberation
(Photo Public domain)

Almost every character in the novel is a victim of their own situation. There is a sense of historical determinism that situated them in a state of slavery. Perhaps they are not to be blamed for their destiny, but Ziada does not portray anyone of the characters as innocent.

“We all create our choices, and we fool ourselves by them. Only at the end of the road will we be able to assess the whole journey. What matters is the continuous seeking,” Ziada explains.

The metaphor of the “seeker” is another Sufi theme that is continuously present in the narrative of the characters. However, the novel presents a different view of the Sufi world by telling the story of the Mahdiyya Movement. In a lot of ways, the character Al-Hassan Al-Grifawy exposes the contradictions of a movement that claimed to be spiritual. When he arrests Bakheet Mandil after he killed the fifth person involved in Theodora’s murder, he decides not to kill him immediately. He gives his orders to his men to move to the city of Musalamiyah. In the meantime, he starts an eye-opening conversation with Bakheet in an attempt to understand what made him kill.

Bakheet’s story reflected the doubt Al-Grifawy had in his heart. Like him, he set on a path of love but ended up in a world of hatred, betrayal and vengeance. He asks himself: “Was it the path of God or was it an illusion?”

He remembers when he left his wife Fatima behind and divorced her to join the Mahdi’s army. He told her: “God called me, O Fatima. Don’t you see what plagued religion? Times have changed. Earth is filled with injustice. The Turk, the infidels, changed the religion of Allah and humiliated the pious. Am I not supposed to answer the call of God and His Messenger if they invite me to what gives me life?”

Ziada manages in the novel to tell the stories of the marginalised. He says: “History usually only tells us the stories of the elite and fails to tell us what happened to the many marginalised characters who found no one to tell their stories.”

He creates their world and exposes their oppression. According to him, they are oppressed not only because of the general atmosphere of defeat of the Mahdist state, but they are oppressed because of their own self-defeat. That is why the novel is the narration of both the physical and spiritual journeys of the main characters.

Ziada is a Sudanese writer and journalist, born in 1977 in the old city of Omdurman, the cradle of the Mahdiyya Movement. Despite his upbringing in a city that revered the Mahdi, Ziada chose to narrate a story that exposed the violence and contradictions of that historical era. He explains “I am not a Sufi, but I do not wage a war against Sufism. I only handle it with a critical view.”

Ziada now resides in Egypt. He worked as a journalist for a number of Sudanese newspapers, including Al-MustaqillaAjras Al-Hurriya, and Al-Jarida. He was Chief Editor of the cultural section of the Sudanese Al-Akhbar newspaper. His first novel “Al-Kong” was published in 2010. He also published tow collections of short stories: “An Omdurman Biography” (2008) and “Sleeping at the Foot of the Mountain” (2014).

http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/07/05/between-the-mystic-and-the-oppressed-hammour-ziadas-world-story-of-the-marginalised/

Imam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi: A man full of worries for Sudan’s future

In assessing the current political situation in Sudan and the prospects for stability, Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi referred to the need to follow a new approach that is at once democratic and inclusive of all political factions

Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi has served as the elected leader of Sudan’s largest opposition party National Umma Party (NUP) (DNE Photo)
Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi has served as the elected leader of Sudan’s largest opposition party National Umma Party (NUP)
(DNE Photo)

By Omneya El-Naggar

Imam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi is definitely a man of few words and a lot of action. His charismatic posture denounces an aristocratic demeanour, despite an ascetic lifestyle. Clad in the traditional white robe and turban, cane in hand, with smile unfading, he cheerfully greets his followers and guests of the lecture he gave in Daal Center for Research and Media, entitled “Political Islam between the Da’wah and the Authority”.

He is also a man full of worries about the future of Sudan. “If the status quo continues, disunity and disintegration of Sudan will be the outcome,” he assures.

Born in 1935 in Omdurman, Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi rose to political prominence through what he described as a “life of struggle”. He is the great grandson of Muhammad Ahmad Al-Mahdi, who founded theMahdiyya Movement on 29 June 1881, which rebelled against the Turco-Egyptian rule and was the first Sudanese movement to embrace nationalism beyond tribal loyalties. Incorporating an Islamic upbringing with Western education was a trait that characterised his political thought and career.

Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi has served since 1964 as the elected leader of Sudan’s largest opposition party National Umma Party (NUP), established in February 1945 under the slogan “Sudan for the Sudanese”. He served as prime minister twice. The first time was between July 1966 until May 1967, which was ended by Ja’far Al-Nimeiri’s military coup. The second time was from May 1986 until his last democratically-elected civilian government was toppled by the military coup headed by Omar Hassan Al-Bashir in 1989. The latter has ruled Sudan since then, and recently won the presidential election held last April with 94% of the vote, thus extending his 26-year rule.

Al-Sadiq El-Mahdy while talking about his worries of the future of Sudan (DNE Photo)
Al-Sadiq El-Mahdy while talking about his worries of the future of Sudan
(DNE Photo)

Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi became the Imam of the Ansar after his uncle, the Imam Al-Hadi Al-Mahdi, was killed in 1970 in the assault by Al-Nimeiri’s forces on his base in Aba Island on the White Nile, which resulted in the deaths of 3,000 of the Ansar.

In assessing the current political situation in Sudan and the prospects for stability, Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi referred to the need to follow a new approach that is at once democratic and inclusive of all political factions.

He says: “The great scholar Ibn Khaldun reminds us that every phenomenon in the natural and social existence must follow certain rules. This is manifested in the Qur’anic verse: Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided it (Taha: 50).”

The Imam does not see any of the four rules that he considers essential for the stability of all political regimes currently present in Sudan: popular approval, satisfactory provision of daily needs, security, and international recognition. With the lack of these four elements, the state becomes a “failed state”, and the regime can only survive through coercion and suppression. This is what he thinks we are witnessing now in Sudan. The “failed state” syndrome has caused a lot of sufferings to the people with the increase in the numbers of fronts for warring militias, the alarming situation of Sudanese refugees, and the widespread corruption.

Al-Mahdi adds: “The current regime has failed to abide by the dictates of the International Human Rights Law. It has also failed to carry what the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect describes as the responsibility of the state to protect its population from genocide, war crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.”

In addition, the regime has failed in handling the diversity of Sudan that is manifested on racial, ethnic, tribal, religious and ideological levels. “This failure is symptomatic of the regime since it led its Islamist coup in 1989 and turned the civil war into a jihadist war that practices excommunication or takfir against its opponents,” he explains.

Al-Mahdi does not believe that Sudan needs uprisings similar to the Arab Spring countries (Photo Public Domain)
Al-Mahdi does not believe that Sudan needs uprisings similar to the Arab Spring countries
(Photo Public Domain)

“Not only did the Islamists impose their agendas, they gave the Southern separatist movement international accountability,” Al-Mahdi adds. He sees this as a huge mistake, because it showed how the regime was willing to defend its interests and ideology at the expense of the Sudanese national interest.

The NUP, in addition to other Sudanese opposition parties, boycotted the latest presidential elections and issued a joint statement rejecting its results. They also called upon the Sudanese people to unite and join a massive civil disobedience campaign to show their resentment to the centralisation of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and topple Al-Bashir.

Al-Mahdi does not believe that Sudan needs uprisings similar to the Arab Spring countries. According to him, these were spontaneous and unorganised. They also lacked vision and direction. As a result, they were either used by the military or by the Islamists.

“What is needed in Sudan now is a National Dialogue. If this fails, then popular movements with organised leadership should change the regime through political and peaceful means,” he insists.

After being deposed during the 1989 coup, Al-Mahdi was imprisoned and put under house arrest for almost seven years until he escaped to Eritrea in 1996 to return in 2000. He was imprisoned several times before as well in 1969, 1973 and 1983. Al-Mahdi considered time in prison as time to re-arrange his thoughts, read and write abundantly. Indeed, he is recognised as an influential moderate Islamist and political thinker. His books cover a variety of topics, including The Southern Question (1964), They Ask You about Mahdism (1979), The Future of Islam in Sudan (1981), The Rights of Women in Islam (1985),Legitimate Penalties and their Position in the Islamic Social System (1987), Democracy in Sudan Will Return and Triumph (1990), Challenges of the Nineties (1991).

Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi was arrested on 17 May 2014, on charges of defamation, dissemination of false news, halting the constitutional system and inciting hatred against the state. These charges came after Al-Mahdi accused the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of committing abuses against civilians in Darfur. Al-Mahdi was released on 15 June 2014.

The Imam has been residing in Egypt for the last ten months, and contrary to his critics who see his influential role as an opposition figure declining, he states that he is extremely busy mediating between the different Sudanese political factions and building dialogue bridges with international mediators.

Al-Mahdi is known to be a very popular figure amongst his countrymen, as they see him as having both knowledge and wisdom (Photo Public Domain)
Al-Mahdi is known to be a very popular figure amongst his countrymen, as they see him as having both knowledge and wisdom
(Photo Public Domain)

A few hours after his lecture, the Imam headed to France to participate in a hearing with the European Union (EU) parliament for the “Sudan Call” forces on 9 June in Strasbourg, to discuss the prospects for peace and democratic reforms in Sudan after the elections.

Leading Sudanese opposition figures who were supposed to join him were barred by the Sudanese security authorities from travelling to France. Delegates prevented from leaving Khartoum included members of the coalition of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), the National Umma Party (NUP), the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF) and various civil society groups.

Serving as president of the International Moderation Forum, Al-Mahdi also launched what came to be known as the “Paper for Awakening the Umma” during the International Conference on the “Role of Moderation in Confronting Terrorism for Accomplishing Global Peace and Stability”, held in Amman last March. For him, there is now a need for a new interpretation of the Shari’a that can reconcile between the religious context and the concept of citizenship.

Despite criticism of failing to stand up to his duty as one of the most important opposition leaders in Sudan, Imam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi continues to see his role as an embodiment of struggle for a Sudanese democratic future. He still believes in the possibility of National Dialogue following the example of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) that was set up in 1991, and by which 92 organisations united in their opposition to apartheid. His magical formula implies that only a good management of diversity and avoidance of violence by all means can present an effective breakthrough to the current political situation.

https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/06/24/imam-al-sadiq-al-mahdi-a-man-full-of-worries-for-sudans-future/

صيف الغضب العربى ضد الإسلاميين يبدأ فى المغرب

جريدة القاهرة

صيف الغضب العربي ضد «الإسلاميين» بدأ في المغرب

نشر في القاهرة يوم 12 – 06 – 2012

تزامناً مع موجات الغضب التي تجتاح دول الربيع العربي علي أداء الإسلاميين وتعالي الأصوات المشككة في نوايا حركاتهم المختلفة بعد وصول العديد منها إلي مناصب سيادية، شهدت المغرب التي سارعت منذ بدء الربيع العربي بتقديم برنامج إصلاحي لاحتواء المطالب الشعبية تظاهر عشرات الآلاف في الدار البيضاء ضد الحكومة الإسلامية التي يقودها عبدالإله بن كيران مطالبين بتحسين الوضع الاجتماعي في البلاد. دور النقابات العمالية وكانت هذه المظاهرات قد نظمت تلبية لدعوة نقابتين للعمال، هما الكونفيدرالية الديمقراطية للشغل والفيدرالية الديمقراطية للشغل. وحظيت هذه الدعوة بدعم حزب الاتحاد الاشتراكي للقوات الشعبية، أكبر الأحزاب اليسارية المعارضة في البرلمان بالإضافة إلي حركة 20 فبراير. وانضم للمظاهرات أيضاً نشطاء من أحزاب يسارية راديكالية. وجاء في البيان الصادر عن النقابتين “أن المغرب يعيش اختلالات بنيوية متعددة، مسّت جميع الحقول والمجالات، خاصة منها المجال الاجتماعي، الذي يحتاج حسبه، إلي قرارات وطنية كبري، وصفها بالجريئة والشجاعة، تتجاوز حدود الترقيعات والبحث عن الحلول الجزئية”. وقال حسن طارق، النائب عن الاتحاد الاشتراكي للقوات الشعبية “هناك أكثر من 50 ألف شخص، يتظاهرون لمطالبة الحكومة بفتح حوار حقيقي حيال التوتر الاجتماعي في بلادنا”. كما نظمت كل من الكونفدرالية الديمقراطية للشغل والفيدرالية الديمقراطية للشغل مسيرة وطنية في مدينة الرباط. وأعلن اتحاد الجامعات الوطنية لسائقي ومهنيي النقل بالمغرب عن تنظيم وقفة احتجاجية أمام مقر وزارة النقل والتجهيز بالرباط في الرابع عشر من يونية الجاري للتعبير عن الضرر الذي تعرض له القطاع من جراء الزيادة في أسعار الوقود. تفاقم الأزمة الاجتماعية يذكر أن هذه المظاهرات هي الأكبر من نوعها التي تم تنظيمها منذ تولي عبد الإله كيران رئاسة الحكومة في المغرب في يناير الماضي عقب فوز حزبه وهو حزب العدالة والتنمية في الانتخابات التشريعية التي أجريت في نوفمبر من العام الماضي. وتجيء المظاهرات احتجاجاً علي تفاقم الأزمة الاجتماعية في المغرب من ارتفاع نسبة البطالة وغلاء المعيشة وتدهور القدرة الشرائية للمواطنين، وارتفاع نسبة الفقر وتزايد التهميش الاجتماعي والاقتصادي، بالإضافة إلي استمرار الفساد. ورداً علي مطالب المتظاهرين، وعد رئيس وزراء المغرب بتقديم دعم نقدي مباشر للفقراء، في إطار إصلاح نظام دعم السلع الباهظة التكلفة، وذلك بعد أن فرضت حكومته واحدة من أكثر الزيادات حدة في بضع سنوات في أسعار الوقود. ودعا بن كيران الفقراء المغاربة إلي فتح حسابات مصرفية أو بريدية لضمان الاستفادة من إصلاح نظام الدعم. وأدت الزيادة في أسعار الوقود بنسبة درهمين في سعر البنزين إلي موجة شديدة من الغضب، واستنكر قياديون داخل حزب العدالة والتنمية الحاكم إقرار هذه الزيادة. وشهد اجتماع الأمانة العامة للعدالة والتنمية احتجاج البعض علي هذه الزيادة ومن بينهم مصطفي الرميد، وزير العدل والحريات، والحبيب الشوباني، الوزير المكلف بالعلاقات مع البرلمان وهيئات المجتمع المدني، اللذين وصفا القرار بأنه “غير شعبي”. صراع بين المعارضة والحزب الحاكم وعلي الرغم من الوعود التي يقدمها بن كيران، إلا أن بعض أعضاء حزب العدالة والتنمية وجهوا اتهامات لمنظمي المظاهرات باستخدامها لأغراض سياسية. وقال عبد الله بوانو، عضو الأمانة العامة لحزب العدالة والتنمية، إن حزبه يقدر المطالب الاجتماعية ويري معقوليتها غير أنه وصف مسيرة الدار البيضاء بالإفلاس السياسي وبأنها غطاء أيديولوجي لفئة محدودة. وأضاف ‘أن ما سمي بمسيرة الغضب تطرح أكثر من علامة استفهام. فلا أظن أن توقيت المسيرة مناسب للاحتجاج علي حكومة لم يمر علي تنصيبها إلا أربعة أشهر، وقانون مالي لم يمر علي المصادقة عليه سوي أسبوع خصصنا من خلاله 31.2 مليار كالتزام مالي لتزيل مضامين ما تم الاتفاق عليه في الحوار الاجتماعي وهذه سابقة للاحتجاج علي حكومة ما تزال في عامها الأول”. وعلي الرغم من ذلك، فإن ردود الأفعال الغاضبة توالت بسبب الزيادة في أسعار الوقود. ورفض رئيس الجمعية المغربية لحماية المستهلك، بوعزة الخراطي، هذه الزيادة ووصفها بأنها تمثل تراجع الحكومة عن الالتزام بوعدها بدعم القدرة الشرائية للمواطن المغربي. واتهمت المعارضة بن كيران أيضاً بالصمت عن الفساد في البلاد، وقال محمد العوني، رئيس منظمة حرية الإعلام والتعبير “إن علي الحكومة إذا أرادت أن تذهب بعيداً في محاربة الفساد، أن تدخل حلبته فِعلياً، ولا يكفي في ذلك التصريحات ولا الشعارات”. وأشار محمد العوني إلي ضرورة اتباع استراتيجية عملية تعتمِد التدرج من أجل محاربة الفساد. وكان رئيس الكومة المغربية، عبدالإله كيران، قد تمت مساءلته في مجلس النواب في جلسة الرابع عشر من مايو الماضي بعد أن وجهت كتل المعارضة عدة انتقادات لحكومته منها البطء في العمل علي الملفات الساخنة التي ينتظر الرأي العام المغربي حلولاً لها، زيادة علي غياب مخطط للتشريع لتطبيق الدستور، وطالبت المعارضة الحكومية بالانتقال لثقافة الإنجاز كبديل لثقافة الكلام فقط. ورداً علي المساءلة، قال رئيس الحكومة المغربية، عبد الإله بن كيران، إن الفترة الزمنية التي لم تتعد الأربعة أشهر منذ تسلم الحكومة لا تسمح بالحكم علي أدائه نظراً لقصرها ونظراً لوجود من أسماهم ب”العفاريت” الذين لا يريدون الإصلاح لأنهم يملكون نفوذاً. غير أنه عبر عن ثقته في قدرة حزبه علي إدارة الأمور بشكل جيد وتسييرها في الاتجاه الصحيح لأنه لا يريد القيام بأعمال ترقيعية، وإنما يريد أن يحدث إصلاحاً حقيقياً. قمع المتظاهرين من جهة أخري، أشار التقرير السنوي لمنظمة العفو الدولية حول حقوق الإنسان في المغرب إلي تفشي أساليب القمع الذي تنتهجه السلطات المغربية ضد الاحتجاجات السلمية التي خرجت إلي شوارع المدن من أجل المطالبة بالإصلاحات السياسية، وأعطي التقرير أمثلة علي ذلك من سجن نشطاء من حركة 20 فبراير ومضايقة أقاربهم من طرف السلطة. وانتقد عبد الرحمن العزوزي، الأمين العام للفيدرالية الديمقراطية للشغل استعمال الحكومة للقوة في مواجهة الاحتجاجات الاجتماعية السلمية. كما اتهم العزوزي حكومة بن كيران بالسعي لإفراغ الدستور الجديد من محتواه عن طريق تضييق الحريات وتقييد الديمقراطية. وفي الوقت نفسه، وجه سجناء ينتمون إلي تيار السلفية الجهادية انتقادات إلي حكومة عبدالإله بن كيران بسبب تجاهل مطالبهم المتعلقة بتحسين أوضاعهم داخل السجون وفتح حوار معهم. وقام عدد من السجناء الإسلاميين في عدد من السجون المغربية بالإضراب عن الطعام منذ التاسع من أبريل الماضي احتجاجاً علي التعذيب والأوضاع الإنسانية السيئة التي يعيشونها. ووجه السجناء رسالة إلي بن كيران طالبوه فيها بفتح تحقيق في الأحداث التي أودت بهم إلي السجن، واتهموه ب”دغدغة آمال الناس بالحديث عن الكرامة والعدالة والحرية في البرلمان”. غضب علي أداء الإسلاميين وفي الوقت الذي تواجه فيه حكومة بن كيران انتقادات واحتجاجات واسعة، قامت وزارة الداخلية بإدراج حزب العدالة والتنمية الحاكم إلي جانب جمعيات دينية أخري تجري مراقبتها وذلك من أجل رصد النشاط الديني في المملكة. وشملت قائمة وزارة الداخلية أحزابا وجماعات دينية أخري من بينها حركة التوحيد والإصلاح وحزب النهضة والفضيلة والسلفية التقليدية والسلفية المغراوية والسلفية الجهادية. وأثار هذه القرار ردود أفعال غاضبة داخل حزب التنمية والعدالة الذي يعتبر نفسه حزب سياسي. المراقب للأحداث في كل من الجزائر والمغرب وتونس ومصر، لا يسعه سوي أن يلاحظ موجة مشتركة من بدء المحاكمات الشعبية لأداء الحركات الإسلامية بعد دخولها مضمار السياسة عن طريق صندوق الاقتراع. ويلاحظ أيضاً صحوة للتيارات اليسارية التي تجمعها مع التيارات الإسلامية الدعوة إلي تحقيق العدالة الاجتماعية. ولكن إصرار الأحزاب الإسلامية علي الخلط بين الدين والسياسة علي أرض الواقع من ناحية، وعلي الاستمرار في التصريح بتمسكها بمفهوم الدولة المدنية من ناحية أخري جعل شعوب دول الربيع العربي تتساءل عن مصداقية الأحزاب ذات المرجعية الدينية وعن قدرتها علي الفعل وليس القول.

صيف الغضب العربى ضد الإسلاميين بدأ فى المغرب

بعد فوز الأحزاب الدينية العالم العربى يتحول إلى دولة الخلافة

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جريدة القاهرة

بعد فوز الأحزاب الدينية العالم العربى يتحول إلى دولة الخلافة

بعد فوز الأحزاب الدينية..العالم العربي يتحول إلي دولة الخلافة

نشر في القاهرة يوم 06 – 12 – 2011

مع الانتهاء من انتخابات المجلس الوطني التأسيسي في تونس ومن انتخابات المجلس التشريعي في المغرب ومن المرحلة الأولي للانتخابات البرلمانية المصرية، باتت كل المؤشرات تؤكد اكتساح التيارات الإسلامية وكأن الربيع العربي الذي بدأ بثورة الياسمين في تونس وانتقل إلي البلدان العربية الأخري كان بادرة لهذه التيارات حتي تستنفر تنظيماتها السياسية للانتقال إلي السلطة بعد سنوات من التهميش والتنكيل والمنع من قبل الأنظمة السابقة. النبوءة الإيرانية وتحيلنا التطورات الانتخابية الأخيرة في كل من تونس ومصر والمغرب إلي التصريحات الإيرانية عقب اندلاع الثورة المصرية والتي جاءت علي لسان علي أكبر صالحي، وزير الخارجية الإيراني، الذي قال “من خلال معرفتنا للشعب المصري الثوري الكبير وصانع التاريخ فإننا علي ثقة بأنه سيضطلع بدوره جيداً في إيجاد شرق أوسط إسلامي يتعلق بالأحرار ومريدي العدالة والاستقلال في المنطقة بصورة جيدة”. ونقل صالحي وجهة نظر النظام الإيراني الذي يري أن ثورات الشعوب العربية الواحدة تلو الأخري ما هي إلا مقدمة لمجيء حكومات إسلامية تغير شكل الشرق الأوسط تماماً وشكل تحالفاته الإقليمية والدولية. ربما تكون الأطروحة الإيرانية أقرب للتحقق في الوقت الراهن بسبب عدة عوامل كانت متوقعة علي رأسها تفتيت المعارضة السياسية التي أضعفت عمداً علي مدي سنوات من الابعاد السياسي ولم تنجح في تجاوز انقساماتها الداخلية أو تقديم برامج سياسية قوية تحظي بقاعدة قوية من التأييد الشعبي. وتعد الانتخابات البرلمانية التي أجريت في المغرب في الخامس والعشرين من نوفمبر الماضي تتويجاً للوعود الإصلاحية التي قدمها العاهل المغربي تحت ضغط المطالب الشعبية. وكان العاهل المغربي الملك محمد السادس قد أعلن في السابع عشر من يونية الماضي عن مشروع إصلاحات دستورية تشمل تقليص سلطات الملك الواسعة وتعزيز سلطات الحكومة مع احتفاظ الملك برئاسة الدولة وقيادة الجيش وإدارة السياسة الخارجية وتعيين القضاء وسلطة حل البرلمان. كما اشتمل مشروع الدستور الجديد علي عدة محاور في مقدمتها الملكية البرلمانية، واعتبار اللغة الأمازيغية لغة رسمية للدولة إلي جانب اللغة العربية، وترسيخ ضمان حقوق الإنسان، والالتزام بالمواثيق الدولية التي صدّقت عليها المغرب. ومن بين الحقوق التي أكد العاهل المغربي علي التوجه لحمايتها مساواة الرجل والمرأة، وتوفير شروط المحاكمة العادلة وتجريم التعذيب والاختفاء القسري والاعتقال التعسفي وكل أشكال التمييز والممارسات المهينة للكرامة الإنسانية وضمان حرية التعبير والرأي، وحق الولوج إلي المعلومات وتقديم العرائض. وارتبطت الإصلاحات أيضاً بالوضع الدستوري لرئيس الحكومة الذي يتم تعيينه من الحزب المتصدر لانتخابات مجلس النواب ويعطيه الدستور صلاحية اقتراح أعضاء حكومته وإقالتهم، والإشراف علي الإدارة العامة والتعيين في المناصب المدنية علي أساس الاستحقاق والشفافية. كما يملك رئيس الحكومة أيضاً صلاحيات اقتراح التوظيف في المناصب الرفيعة مثل المحافظين والسفراء ومسئولي الإدارة الأمنية الداخلية. العدالة والتنمية في الصدارة واليوم وبعد أن جني المغاربة بعض ثمار الربيع العربي وتحت ضغوط من الحركات الشبابية المطالبة بنظام ملكي برلماني والتي من أهمها حركة 20 فبراير، فاز حزب العدالة والتنمية ب107 مقاعد في البرلمان مما سيسمح لأمينه العام عبدالإله بن كيران بتشكيل الحكومة. وقال كيران عقب أن حل حزبه في الصدارة “إننا عشنا في المغرب الربيع العربي بطريقتنا الخاصة، وفضلنا ألا نغامر باستقرار بلادنا”. ومثله مثل حزب النهضة في تونسوحزب الحرية والعدالة في مصر، فإن حزب العدالة والتنمية المغربي يعد امتداداً لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين التي انتهجت نهج المطالبة بالديمقراطية والمواطنة مما جعل خطابها أقرب إلي القبول لدي الشعب لاسيما مع تأكيد هذه الأحزاب علي احترام حقوق المرأة والأقليات والحريات الشخصية. ويتكون البرلمان المغربي المنتخب من 395 مقعداً، بينها 90 مقعداً جري التصويت عليها بنظام اللائحة الوطنية، 60 مقعداً للنساء، و30 مقعداً للشباب ( أقل من 40 سنة ). وتجاوزت نسبة المشاركة في الانتخابات 45% مما أعطي مؤشراً إيجابياً لارتفاع نسبة المشاركة السياسية. تحديات تشكيل الحكومة وعلي الرغم من فوز الأحزاب الإسلامية الكبري في كل من تونس والمغرب، تظل هناك تحديات كبيرة في انتظارها فحزب النهضة التونسي يواجه ضغطاً من السلفيين في تونس بينما يواجه حزب العدالة والتنمية تحدي تشكيل الحكومة التي لابد وأن تكون ائتلافية كما يواجه تحديات عديدة في إدارة البلاد في المرحلة المقبلة. وتباينت مواقف الأحزاب والقوي السياسية في المغرب من المشاركة في الحكومةالجديدة حيث أكد حزب “التجمع الوطني للأحرار” الذي يقود تكتل التحالف من أجل الديمقراطية وحصل علي 52 مقعداً رفضه المشاركة في الحكومة. وقال الحزب في بيان أصدره إنه “اختار بكل وعي ومسئولية ودفاعاً عن مشروعه الحداثي الديمقراطي الاصطفاف في المعارضة”. في الوقت نفسه، قال رئيس الحكومة المعين إنه لا يمانع التحالف مع أي طرف باستثناء حزب الأصالة والمعاصرة الذي حظي ب 47 مقعداً. وبذلك تبدو المؤشرات الأولية أن هناك إمكانية تحالف حزب العدالة والتنمية مع أحزاب “الكتلة الديمقراطية” التي تضم حزب الاستقلال الذي يقود الائتلاف الحكومي الحالي بقيادة سكرتيره العام عباس الفاسي والذي حصل علي 60 مقعداً وحزب الاتحاد الاشتراكي للقوات الشعبية ولديه 39 مقعداً وحزب التقدم والاشتراكية ب 18 مقعداً وذلك لتشكيل الحكومة المقبلة فيما لم يصدر عن هذه الأحزاب أي موقف رسمي بعد. تحدي السلفية أما فيتونس، فيواجه حزب النهضة حرباً محتدمة مع السلفيين الذين قاموا في الآونة الأخيرة بتشديد مواقفهم من العلمانية في البلاد. وقام السلفيون في تونس مؤخراً باقتحام جامعة منوبة والاعتصام فيها للمطالبة بتمكين الطالبات المنتقبات من الجلوس للامتحانات وتخصيص مسجد في حرم الجامعة، والتفريق بين الطلبة الإناث والذكور، وعدم السماح للرجال بتدريس النساء، والنساء بتدريس الرجال. وكرد فعل، أعلنت نقابة أساتذة الجامعات التونسية إضراب عام واحتجاجات في كل جامعات البلاد. كما أعلنت الجامعة عن اعتزامها تنظيم تجمع احتجاجي أمام مقر المجلس الوطني التأسيسي، وعن تجمعات احتجاجية مماثلة أمام مختلف الجامعات في البلاد تنديداً بالاعتداءات علي الحريات الفردية والعامة، وكذلك علي الحريات الأكاديمية. وكانت اعتصامات السلفيين قد شهدت اشتباكات بالأيدي داخل الحرم الجامعي في كلية الآداب والفنون بين الطلبة السلفيين والطلبة العلمانيين الذين عبروا عن رفضهم للمنتقبات وعن ضرورة احترام القوانين الجامعية. وقامت هذه المجموعات الملتحية، بحسب شهادات الطلبة والعاملين بالجامعة، باحتجاز عميد الكلية والاعتصام في بهو الجامعة إلي حين تلبية مطالبهم. وأكد عميد الكلية، الحبيب الكزدغلي، أن عشرات السلفيين الذين لا ينتمون إلي الكلية قاموا بمنع طلبة من دخول الامتحان وهددوه بأنه سيبقي قيد الاحتجاز إلي حين تلبية جميع مطالبهم. ويعد حادث اقتحام جامعة منوبة ليس الأول من نوعه فقد شهدت إذاعة “الزيتونة” للقرآن الكريم عملية اقتحام مماثلة من جماعة سلفية يقودها الشيخ عادل العليمي، الذي أعلن عن تأسيس هيئة الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر في تونس، وقام بطرد مديرة الإذاعة السيدة إقبال الغربي بحجة أنها غير مؤهلة لإدارة مؤسسة دينية. وصرح الشيخ العليمي بأن الهيئة ستعمل علي الإصلاح والهداية في كل المجالات الدينية والاجتماعية والسياسية والاقتصادية وحتي الرياضية، وستكون عاملا فاعلا مستقلا يمكنه إصلاح الحكومة ومراقبتها. كما سبق وقام السلفيون بتبير حادث الهجوم علي سينما أفريكار وعلي قناة نسمة والاعتداء علي المخرج النوري بوزيد والهجوم علي المصطافين بأحد الشواطئ. خلفية واحدة وتيارات مختلفة وعلي الرغم من المكاسب التي حققتها الحركات الإسلامية بفضل الربيع العربي، وعلي الرغم من انطلاقها جميعاً من معطيات واحدة، فإن هذه الحركات يمكن بصفة عامة تقسيمها إلي ثلاثة تيارات: التيار المنبثق عن فكر جماعة الإخوان المسلمين، التيار الجهادي، والتيار السلفي. وبما أن التيار الجهادي لا يزال محظوراً في معظم الدول العربية، فإن المرحلة القادمة ستشهد منافسة قوية بين التيارات الإسلامية المعتدلة وبين التيار السلفي وستكون أهم محاور هذه المنافسة المطالبة بتطبيق الشريعة الإسلامية، ومناهضة العلمانية والليبرالية والديمقراطية وإقصاء المرأة عن العمل السياسي والحياة الاجتماعية العامة. وانتقد الأمين العام للحركة السلفية في تونس، رضا أحمد صمدي، الديمقراطية واعتبرها كفراً. وفي الوقت الذي يختلف فيه التيار المعتدل عن التيار السلفي، فإنه لم يتخذ موقفاً واضحاً من المنهج السلفي ومن التصريحات التي تصدر عن كوادره والتي تعد بمثابة تهديد صريح لمستقبل المجتمع المدني. ونري ذلك مثلاً في التجربة التونسية حيث لم يقم حزب النهضة بإدانة الهجمات السلفية أو بمناصرة ضحاياها. وهو ما أكدته الدكتورة فاطمة جغام، أستاذ الفنون التشكيلية، التي تعرضت إلي اعتداء من مجموعة من تلامذها السلفيين الذين طالبوها بمغادرة قاعة التدريس باعتبار أن الفنون التشكيلية حرام واتهموها بالكفر. وأضافت “الغريب في الأمر أن زملائي الذين ينتمون لحركة النهضة لم يتضامنوا معي ولم يدينوا ما تعرضت إليه من تهديد وعنف لفظي”. العالم العربي الذي يشهد تمدد للأنظمة الإسلامية سيشهد بلاشك المزيد من الصراع بين التيارات الإسلامية المعتدلة وبين التيار السلفي. ولكن في جميع الأحوال، نري مؤشرات مهادنة التيارات المعتدلة للتيار السلفي تتمثل في الامتناع رأينا في تصريح الرئيس السابق لحركة النهضة الصادق شورو الذي طالب بوضع “بنودًا في الدستور ليكون الإسلام هو المرجعية التي يستلهم منها المجلس التأسيسي القوانين والنظم القضائية والتربوية والاجتماعية والسياسية”، وهو الأمر الذي اعتبره المحللون بأنه خطوة علي طريق إقامة الخلافة الراشدة.

Will Egypt’s Arab Spring Turn Into an Arab Nightmare?

The revolution in Egypt is not over. It has hardly begun. The removal of President Hosni Mubarak, whose trial many Egyptians view as a public relations stunt, has done nothing to alter the lock the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has on power, the economy and the political process. Those who once united in defiance of the Mubarak regime have, in frustration and anger, fragmented into antagonistic camps. Islamists of varying shades are pitted against secularists in virulent street confrontations. The trust and euphoria that once marked the uprising have given way to distrust and paranoia. And those who seek fundamental change and an open society have come to the sad conclusion that we have a long, long way to go.

The sectarian and religious tensions that once seethed beneath the surface of Egyptian society, kept in place by a brutal system of repression, including torture and fraudulent elections, have burst with fury upon the body politic. Where these torrents will lead us is anyone’s guess. But the mounting frustration with the slow pace of reform is political dynamite. The more the military council uses the familiar tools of fraud, force and repression to quell growing dissent, the more radical and antagonistic the opposition will become.

The SCAF, which took control in February with the ouster of Mubarak, failed to meet its promise to schedule parliamentary elections within six months. It sidetracked public discontent over the performance of the transitional government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, as well as discontent over its decision merely to amend the Constitution rather than draft a new one before elections, by propagating alarmist fears about threats to the country’s stability. The parliamentary elections, now scheduled to begin on November 28, do not signal any better hope for stability. The SCAF has postponed presidential elections until after the new Parliament writes a Constitution, a process that could take a year or more. And the de facto head of the country, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, has hung up his military uniform for a business suit and has begun to speak like a candidate for office, although the military leadership has assured Egyptians it will not put forward a presidential candidate.

If the elections are free and fair—something that remains very much in doubt—they will almost certainly see the Muslim Brotherhood take a plurality, perhaps a majority, of seats in Parliament. The military knows and fears this. Although the Brotherhood is demonized by Egyptian secularists and countries such as Israel and the United States, it is in fact one of the tamer and more moderate alternatives within the Islamist movement. Ever since its founding in 1928, it has promoted da’wa, social reform and political participation. Its declared approach is nonviolence (rare exceptions being its resistance to the British occupation and the attempt to assassinate former President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954). The Brotherhood has pursued these goals covertly, during times of repression under military regimes, as well as overtly, during brief periods of political opening. It has mobilized millions of followers through charities, unions and social work, and has been especially successful in rural areas. In recent years the Brotherhood has moderated some of its longstanding demands, such as for the application of Sharia law, in an attempt to reach out to secularists.

The Brotherhood presented itself right after the ouster of Mubarak as a potential stabilizing force by embracing civil government and democratic ideals and by praising the model of moderate Islamist politics practiced by Turkey’s ruling AKP Party. But the military, backed by Washington, looks set to prevent the Brotherhood from achieving significant political power, a move that would not only discredit its call for nonviolence but also empower some very disturbing groups that have risen in prominence since the removal of Mubarak. The untimely release from prison of prominent jihadists and other radical Islamist figures is now read as a tactical move by the SCAF to undermine the power of the Brotherhood, to divide Islamist voters and to send a message to secularists that the military is needed to maintain stability.

But the army is playing a dangerous game by opening up political space for the radical Salafist and jihadi groups, which carried out acts of violence in the past, including a rebellion in the 1990s in which more than 1,000 were killed. Such groups received the harshest blows under the previous regime. The longer the military clings to power, the more these extremists, who justify themselves by holding up their many martyrs, gain in stature and popularity. They lack the sophistication and organizational skills of the Brotherhood, and they spurn the Brotherhood’s commitment to peaceful change and its call for a broad coalition that includes secularists. But the Salafists, who carry Egyptian flags to which they add the symbols of an Islamist government, are disciplined, steadfast and resolute. And they have increased their appeal to the frustrated majority, especially the tens of millions who live in rural areas, peripheral suburbs and slum cities, who hoped Mubarak’s removal would bring a quick end to their joblessness, hunger and suffering.

At the same time, non-Islamist forces are slowly losing ground because of their lack of organization and internal divisions. Many leftists, secularists and youth factions of traditional political parties, including pro-Western democrats, believe falsely that they own the revolution, perhaps because they were so prominent in the early days at Tahrir Square. They are openly distrustful of all Islamist groups, including the Brotherhood, and their arrogance and sense of self-importance have doomed the possibility of coalitions. The national referendum held on March 19 dealt a serious blow to the credibility of these secular groups. They had called for a “no” vote, rejecting the referendum’s proposal for immediate parliamentary elections, instead supporting establishment of a presidential council to take over power from the military and pave the way for the creation of a new Constitution, followed by presidential and parliamentary elections. But only 23 percent of the public voted “No.” It was an early measure of the secularists’ lack of unity and common vision and of their inability to appeal to the Egyptian public.

Egypt is splintering. The SCAF; the government of Essam Sharaf, which was once cheered by the Tahrir protesters; the Muslim Brotherhood; the Salafists; the Sufi groups; the April 6 Movement, which has organized thousands of young Egyptians since its formation in 2008; the various revolutionary youth coalitions, which were created after the revolution to voice the demands of Tahrir Square; opposition parties under the previous regime; newly established parties—these are pieces in a political mosaic tainted with shortcomings and self-serving agendas. The country is beset with wild conspiracy theories, including persistent rumors of a military coup. The fragile Coptic Christian–Muslim entente is in tatters, as radical Islamists burn Coptic places of worship and attack individual Christians. On October 9, confrontations between the army and Coptic protesters left at least two dozen people dead and more than 200 wounded.

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The sacking of the Israeli embassy in September, when looters found documents that confirmed Egypt’s collaboration with Israel in enforcing the siege on Gaza, had already discredited the military. But the SCAF’s response was perhaps even more chilling: it instantly reinstated emergency security laws and has hauled thousands of suspected dissidents before military courts, where long prison sentences are dispensed swiftly and without due process. In the eyes of many Egyptians, it is the old Mubarak regime without Mubarak. The obsequiousness of the military to Washington, and by extension to Israel, was further exposed to the Egyptian public when the military council announced it was lifting the Gaza blockade at the end of May, but then under pressure from the Obama administration continued to restrict passage through the Rafah border. There is little support left for the military council, and it is doubtful that any candidate approved by the military stands a chance of winning in a fair election.

Washington’s mounting unease over the revolution, which it originally opposed and was never enthusiastic about, was spelled out for Egyptians in the humiliating House appropriations measure on US aid to Egypt, now $1.3 billion a year. The bill stipulates that funding can proceed only if “the Secretary of State certifies that the government of Egypt is not controlled by a foreign terrorist organization.” The secretary must also affirm that Egypt is “taking steps to detect and destroy the smuggling network and tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza strip.” And it insists on continuation of “border security programs and activities in the Sinai, with the expectation that the Egyptian military will continue to adhere to and implement the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.” The Obama administration’s decision to allot an eye-popping $120 million for “promoting democracy” in Egypt and Tunisia also makes it clear to Egyptians that if the military does not successfully manage the elections to keep all Islamist groups from power, Washington will pull the plug on the billions in foreign assistance.

* * *

Street clashes between opposition factions are becoming increasingly violent. This is certainly true where I live, in Alexandria, a Mediterranean coastal city of more than 4 million. If these factions begin to inflict serious casualties and even deaths, the country’s vaunted peaceful revolution could look more like internecine warfare. The October 9 clashes in Cairo between the police and Coptic Christians reflect the deepening sectarian divisions as well as the growing frustration of Egyptians with the military council’s unfulfilled promises of justice and reform.

Saad Zaghloul Square is the headquarters in Alexandria for protesters who carry on in the tradition of Tahrir Square. The walls of the garden surrounding the square are colorfully decorated with slogans and flags. Vendors sell drinks, food and souvenirs like T-shirts with various revolutionary slogans. There is only one entrance to the garden, and it is heavily patrolled by ad hoc security guards, who are dressed in regular civilian clothes and distinguishable by name tags. Members of the People’s Front to Protect the Revolution, as they call themselves, ask for identity cards, check bags and conduct body search. They are usually friendly and apologize for the inconvenience.
“We have to be cautious. Thugs and thieves infiltrate. We have to protect the demonstrators,” said one of the female team members.

One of her male colleagues, who spotted my camera, added, “We also do not allow journalists working for state-owned media.” Their supervisor, a karate coach named Tamer Ahmed, confirmed that they had arrested two “thugs.”

Tents exhibit photos of those who have lost their lives since January 25. The parents of Alexandrian martyr Ahmed Abdel Latif Ahmed left a note welcoming people who come to pay condolences. No tent shows signs of any political affiliation.

The old emblems of a united opposition such as this tent city, however, are swiftly disappearing. I expect it will be shut down soon as the opposition solidifies into antagonistic camps. I will miss this moment in our history.

I often walk along the seafront in Alexandria, where there are visible signs of both political tension and the deep desire for normalcy. Revolutionary graffiti and drawings, generally written and painted in the colors of the Egyptian flag (red, black and white), cover walls. Couples sit and chat on the cement rocks used as a breakwater. Families perch atop the rocks to share an evening picnic. Men patiently fish. Schoolgirls giggle and sip tea. Knots of impassioned men and women discuss politics. Joggers in brand-name outfits dart between walkers. Kite runners and bikers maneuver to avoid colliding. Dark-skinned Upper Egyptian vendors fan the grilled corn they sell for one pound. Piles of yellowish-green husks surround them. Shisha boys run hectically to serve their customers. Vendors blow their horns to advertise homemade ice-cream cones or the traditional paper-thin biscuit candy known as fresca.

The messages of the graffiti at the sea front, however, remind Egyptians not to forget God. “If you do not see Him, He sees you,” goes one slogan. Another is directed at the young lovers who congregate at sunset along the shoreline. It asks men, “Would you accept it if it were your sister or your mother?” These are the stark messages of the Salafists, which call on us all to repent. There is also counter-graffiti, which denounces the Salafists and other self-righteous Islamists.

One evening I was listening to loud music pumped out of a stereo player carried by a man out for a walk. The song lamented the fortunes of the poor. The man was passing in front of huge cement rocks on which were written, in rhyming Arabic words, “Revolution means change. The poor are still too many.” Under a beach sign for “Cleopatra’s Baths” a sleeping beggar was jolted awake by the loud music. He had a sun-baked face and oily, braided woolen hair. I watched him pick up a half-eaten cob of discarded corn from the ground and eat it. Poverty in Egypt is endemic, and the rise in food prices is one of the engines of the revolt. It ticks like a time bomb as the army council dithers.

The historical layers of this once-cosmopolitan city have been covered by an Islamist tide. It began, as the Alexandrian writer Ibrahim Abdel Meguid described it, with the invasion of the “culture of sand”: the growing influence of harsh Islamic practices and intolerance imported from Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. Women who once bathed on the seafront have been driven away by Islamists. All of us wait now to see how high that tide will get. There remain varying tones of Islamists, as well as secularists, but for how long? The more fiercely the military council clings to power, the more polarized and deadly the conflict becomes. I fear for my country. If there is not a political opening soon, if we do not achieve the freedom hundreds died to attain, our Arab Spring could turn into an Arab nightmare.

http://www.thenation.com/article/will-egypts-arab-spring-turn-arab-nightmare/