Tuesday, November 24, 2009

About Egypt Politics, Arab Nationalism and a Soccer Match

By: Dalia Ziada
first published on Bikya Masr on November 21st, 2009

“Get these flags down! God damn Egypt!” I was shocked when I heard a young man in the street saying this immediately after the historical soccer match between Egypt and Algeria in Sudan on Wednesday. Before the match, people were wearing flags with sense of pride. After the match, they hid the flags and were ashamed of showing them.

I am sure that this young man, who cursed Egypt, is not the only one who did so. There must be others who cursed Egypt; not because they hate Egypt, but because they are fed up with the many failures we have been through and the many hopes we are losing day after day. We lost the match and subsequently will be deprived from participating at the World Cup next year. What a shame! But still I am very happy with this failure.

I am not happy because our loss saved the lives of the thousands of Egyptians who traveled to Sudan to support their national soccer team. Unfortunately, Egyptians received unexpected and unacceptable physical attacks by Algerians after the match. This was a clear remark on the destruction of the sacred statute of the so-called Arabism, Nationalism and Arab unity, which the revolutionary regime of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser founded to fool the people and keep their attention out of the focus on internal problems! Probably, Nasser was sincere in calling for these noble causes of one unified Arab people.

However, what happened in Sudan on Wednesday in response to a soccer match is evidence of the failure of his theory. This would make me partially happy because it will help us open our eyes to new realities and focus more on the real problems behind our sufferings.

On another side, I am happy with the failure we achieved against the Algerian national soccer team on Wednesday, because winning means taking people away from their actual battle and fooling them with a false one. If the Egyptian national soccer team were to have won the match, Egyptians – all Egyptians – would have been occupied with the World Cup dream up till the end of 2010.

This, simply, means that Egyptians will keep blowing horns, wearing flags, and singing patriotic songs till the end of the Parliamentary elections, which is the gateway to the presidential elections of 2011. It is true that the Egyptian people are looking forward to the presidential elections that might renovate their hope to a new era of democracy, political freedom, and most importantly, economic welfare. But the politicians, either from the National Democratic Party or the supporters of the current regime of Mubarak – senior and junior – or even from the other opposition groups including independent and partisan competitors on the presidential seat know that their real battle is winning the Parliamentary elections.

Winning the majority of Parliament seats is simply about controlling how laws would be fabricated and the Constitution will be amended according to the plans of this majority. If the NDP wins the majority of seats at this legislative cycle, there is no doubt that they will fabricate new laws and tailor new Constitutional amendments to fit their prospected heir of power, Gamal Mubarak, the son of the current president.

On the other hand, if the opposition groups and parties win the majority of seats, they will act like a thorn in the side of the regime. At the very least, they would object to all legislation in this regard and would have the courage to amend certain articles and codes in a way that guarantees the failure of the presidential succession plan. Definitely, it is a strong battle, the real battle which Egyptians should pay enough attention to. The will of the people should decide their representatives in Parliament because this will determine the future of the presidency, which will play the definitive role in determining the future of every single citizen, young or old.

It is good that we did not win and we are not going to have more “drugs of patriotism” represented in a 90-minute soccer match. But the question is: could we mobilize the people again to the new cause, which has nothing to do with soccer? What is important for Egyptians … their national soccer team or their political, economic, and social future?