Amidst the unprecedented degree of mayhem Egypt is in today some may question whether the revolution was a disillusion, or even a fallacy that led nowhere. Was this what Egyptians had desired and hoped for? Had they known that this would be the end result; would they have opted to go that route? More importantly, does any Egyptian feel that today is better than yesterday?
The Revolution had given them hope. They believed that the world had finally given them a chance, an opportunity, through which they can emerge to the surface after years of submersion in despair. But let’s call a spade a spade. The state of Egyptians, 21 months after the Jan 25 Revolution, is by far worse than it was before it, when Mubarak was still living in his ivory tower totally oblivious to the agony befalling most Egyptians. All Egyptians would agree on this revelation in spite of their agreeing earlier that Mubarak had to go.
This brings us to today’s query. If we compare pre-revolution to post-revolution, was Mubarak not too bad after all?
So let’s rewind and consider Mubarak’s era. Mubarak overstayed his welcome, and his cronies usurped Egypt’s fortune. He definitely lost the battle against poverty. He had no plan to improve education or the health system. And during his 30 years in office, corruption became innate.
In addition, Egyptians considered him a not-too-bright-a-person. His demeanor and his comments always let him down; Egyptians made him a laughing stock naming him “La vache qui ri,” the laughing cow; when he spoke informally without inhibition, he usually ended goofing up. Like the time he asked the weaver making handmade carpets when they were going to mechanize the process, or when he looked at the pregnant woman and asked her if she was married.
But Egypt was by far safer; walking on the street was a non-issue: no harassment or groping, and no thugs to mug you. No one would’ve dared evict a Copt or blatantly attack a judge or an army officer. More importantly, Mubarak held the jihadists at bay, especially in Sinai.
Then Mubarak’s decisions were rarely rescinded. They may not have always been perfect, but they remained firmly intact. From this perspective, the Egyptians accepted the law and adhered to it to the best of their abilities. This is all in comparison to the level we are exposed to today.
And yes, we had a democratic election; and no, we are not killing one another on the streets like Syrians, and our toppled ex-leader is safely behind bars; still, we are in total disarray nonetheless.
Fast-forward and we see a bleak picture. Nothing of true value has been accomplished. The poor are poorer, the thugs stronger and rowdier, and the lawlessness, or at least taking the law into one’s hands, wilder.
And President Morsi may not ever amass money off the people, but he is lavishly spending it if not on the dozen trips he’s making, then on the security and surveillance team that escort him on these trips, on his guarded prayer duties, and on the 18 advisor posts he has initiated. And even when he gives it to the people in the shape of a raise in salary or pension, prices get hiked immediately.
Furthermore, Egyptians are unable to take President Morsi’s decisions seriously either. For as soon as he makes one, it is cancelled as seen in his decisions to re-establish the parliament, and to retire the Chief Prosecutor. Then, of course, there is the new law to shut stores at 10 p.m., which will be abused horrendously until it is cancelled.
One other conspicuous decision was to allow Islamist jihadists out of prison to appease the various Islamic parties. A few days afterwards, the Sinai attack took place causing 16 deaths. Egyptians are connecting the two incidents together.
Then his bloopers are even worse than Mubarak’s it seems—wishing the murdered Sinai men all the best, adjusting his body parts in public, eating off a mat with his buddies in the presidential palace, and, in spite of praying in a mosque, praying alone as he is surrounded by a dozen bodyguards while he prostrates on a single prayer mat when all other worshippers have nothing to kneel on.
Secondly, the Islamists have absolute reign over the country with their 15th Century narrow mindedness. More importantly, the political discourse revolves around Sharia restrictions, suppressing women’s rights and eliminating their achievements, and how to other those who don’t belong in the Islamic main stream.
In conclusion, was Mubarak that bad after all? Undoubtedly, he was. If we view the standard by which the majority of Egyptians lived, he failed miserably, and he should’ve been ousted several decades earlier.
But the superseding question is even more poignant. If we knew then what we know now, would we have gone after him with the same fury? I’ll leave that to the readers to decide.