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Mutual Understanding needed

SAMAR EL HUSSIENY, Egyptian testimonies

Tell me where you live, I will tell how you think. Living in the first modernized world is a privilege that I don’t have. Enjoying stable, secured democracies with fixed constitutional rules and institutions that could keep everyone accountable and promote equality – at least when it comes to law enforcement – are things that we cannot afford now in the third world. A welfare state that has social justice system or at least could afford basic needs for its citizens is on our dreams. Independent judiciary system, respect and commitment to human rights conventions is all we need.We want the “no taxation without presentation” principle but unfortunately as citizens in one of the third world countries we don’t have all the above!

The situation in Egypt is shocking for you and for the democratic rules that you have been raised on. I totally understand this and I could also relate to your shock because I had the same situation when ‘democracy’ has been used by radical extremist powers in my country to manipulate, mislead and fraud people’s will.

Have you ever faced a situation in which your ELECTED leader considered your voting as unlimited permission to do whatever he wants? Have you ever faced a situation in which your President gave himself unlimited powers and immunized his decisions against any judiciary decrees and gave himself all legislative, judicial and executive powers? Have you ever been in a position in which the ruling party was replacing all officials, ministries, governors by his own people, away from mutual and equivalent chances and efficiency?

If I kept giving examples, this article would be endless. The aforementioned are to make you understand why we decided to topple our elected president after one year before he ends his 4-years term.

Yes, we elected him and yes, we have been at least 9 times to several voting polls for referendums and elections in the last 3 years which gives you a clear evidence that we do believe in voting as a tool of democracy. But I would also like to highlight that being elected doesn’t mean that you are the best and your own history is full of evidence of how elections led to dictatorships. I bet, and correct me if I am wrong, that Hitler, Mussolini and Khomeini were elected, weren’t they? If you had the chance to live in their times, would you ever say that democracy said they had to end their terms no matter what happens and no matter what are the circumstances? Would you ever consider it?

Isn’t democracy, as you promote it, a comprehensive, complementary, concrete process which has several aspects? Aren’t elections only one of them?

I don’t want to dig deeper in this theoretical dilemma, I just want to clarify to you two major points:

  1. Though I’m an Egyptian citizen, the country that has been here since ever with all our glorious history, great heritage and civilization. I haven’t ever envied first world citizens, I just admire your circumstances and I do respect your grandfathers for building your democracies that lasted and secured you against dictatorship and unfairness. I do appreciate the effort that has been exerted and sacrifices that have been made to assure you advanced ranking in the world. That’s why me and my generation – as we had the privilege throughout technology and traveling to see your democracies module closely – we decided to GO FOR IT . We know it won’t be an easy task, it won’t be a one man show and it’s not a short term task. What we truly want is to pave the way for our children to have a decent life in our country. We are trying to sacrifice for the future of next generation. I know that sometimes it’s getting complicated but we are moving forward. Although sometimes we face obstacles, each time we correct our path. Even our mistakes would be more like experiences for the upcoming generation – all we need from all of you is to give us time, chance and acceptance of our sometimes mysterious steps.
  2. We, as youth around the world, are the majority. Technology and social networks give us the ability to communicate, share, participate, discuss and broaden our knowledge throughout sharing experiences. The flow of information in this era is enormous, the amount of stories and knowledge we are sharing together is huge. When the Arab Spring started in 2011, solidarity and support from all around the world was in the air. When some protest movements in Europe and US erupted, we were trying to be understanding for your demands and we tried as much as we could to support you, even though some of these demands were for our context more like a luxurious dreams. Despite the fact that we are coming from different backgrounds and circumstances, we opted to believe in humanity and support you, because we believe that as long as you have decided to ask for help, it’s crucial for you.

Supporting principles and believing in People’s power is needed and, above all, a Mutual Understanding for each other’s needs is needed. Let’s believe in each other and be more open minded and understanding for different new political phenomena, don’t judge people according to your context ,  judge them regarding their own.

Samar El Hussieny, Executive Director of the Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies, an NGO based in Cairo, Egypt. She has worked in the human rights field since 2005 and has been active in civil society projects dedicated to human rights education, election monitoring, and minority rights. Samar was an activist during the Egyptian revolution and an election monitor during the 2012 presidential vote, and she continues to work to promote freedom and democracy. She seeks to support reform movements and non-violent revolutions in the Arab world and beyond. You can follow her on Twitter.

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