In Egypt we have a saying that Egyptians do not have a catalogue. Meaning that there is no operator’s manual to tell you how he or she works. Trying to anticipate a collective reaction by the Egyptian people has proven futile to many a non-Egyptian analyst, and I suspect to many an intelligence agency. Collective reaction can range from total apathy to uncontrollable anger and violence, and oftentimes there is not a single indicator to tell which will be manifested, at least in the view of non-Egyptians. But Egyptians can read the signs – probably written in invisible ink, which only Egyptians can read – and can assess to a great extent what the reaction would be.
Although the revolution of 25 January 2011 has been revealed as having been set up by several interested parties, yet I think these very parties did not anticipate the numbers that turned out. The reaction of the people, all those who were not in on the plan, was overwhelming and played right into the plot that was set.
This is the reason why to this day there is controversy among the participants, between those who knew that they were following a set up plan and those who participated in total good faith and through pure love for the country. Though the plan for the uprising was carefully set up, yet the reaction was beyond what was expected or even hoped for, by those who set it up. Here again the collective reaction of the Egyptian people came as a surprise to non-Egyptians.
Through a great deal of work and the expenditure of huge sums of money the ground was prepared for the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood to take over the rule of Egypt. Those few Egyptians who were educated in the history of that terrorist organization were totally set against that move, but unfortunately they were not a strong enough force to stop the trend that swept the Brotherhood into power. The recruitment of trustworthy figures and all the opinion leaders who seemed all to have hidden agendas facilitated the enablement of the Muslim Brotherhood and the take over of the rule of Egypt.
What happened during that one year of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood was totally and completely unexpected, and came as a nasty shock to the Western powers that felt satisfied that the Brotherhood had total control over the country, as per their plan. The probable assessment they probably made of the Egyptian people was that a dictator had ruled Egyptians for so long that they will settle down again and accept the dictatorship of Morsi and his clan. That the ruse of using religion, to a people who seem to be pious and who have been brainwashed into a certain mental acceptance of a version of religion preached by the Brotherhood and the Salafist for the past few decades, would seal the deal and ensure the success of Egyptians being ruled by those who seem to apply God’s word, but were really backed by the west with its own agenda.
Though Egyptians had been brainwashed by the Wahabi version of Islam, what non-Egyptians could never understand is that intrinsically Egyptians are a fun-loving people. Egyptians love to sing and dance, like jokes and witty repartee, they have a very strong joie de vivre that could not be curbed for long by the very arid, joyless version of Islam that was being preached. One very obvious manifestation of that feeling by Egyptians was the rise of an extremely sexy, very loud and flashy singer/dancer who made video clips that went viral on YouTube, making jokes about the behavior of the Brotherhood members and the Salafist. If most Egyptians were as pious and as docile as they were thought to be they would never have accepted that woman’s parodies. These were not only accepted, they were shared by all and enjoyed by the majority.
Another aspect of Egyptian collective behavior, which was a total surprise to non-Egyptians, was the way the movement of Tamarod took off. This was a peaceful protest against Morsi’s rule in the form of a signed petition asking for early Presidential elections. Even the Brotherhood, which was supposedly totally in tune with the pulse of the streets, was completely taken aback by the avalanche of signatures of this petition. The targeted number was 15 million to show that two million more than those who voted Morsi in were now asking for early elections, but when the number was calculated it was more than 22 million signatures, and that totally floored the Brotherhood, and their western backers.
Another collective spontaneous action by the people, which caused non-Egyptians to falter again in attempting the assessment of Egyptian behavior, was when over 22 million people went out to the streets to demonstrate against Morsi and in support of their request for early elections. The whole world was stunned. CNN, before the official line it should follow was explained, had impulsively covered these torrential demonstrations, going so far as to say that they should go into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest political demonstrations against a ruler ever to happen on earth; but then after that it was retracted and the official line of it being “a coup” was put about to try to reinstate Morsi and the Brotherhood. Less than a month later a repeat performance was put on, where the people mandated Al Sisi, then the Minister of Defense, to fight terrorism wherever it was. This time over 30 million people demonstrated to show support for Al Sisi and the army.
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood are Egyptians and therefore privy to Egyptian thought and probable reaction. This gives them an advantage when trying to sabotage anything within the country by turning the opinion of the general public. One of the worst weapons used in this war was that of the power outages. Not only was it extremely inconvenient, it caused a great deal of work disruption and quite a few financial losses. So sabotage was concentrated on that part of the infrastructure that was barely carrying its load. A very bad breakdown took place with power outages sometimes reaching five to six intermittent hours in the one day. With summer at its zenith and heat wave after heat wave hitting the country, this was causing a great deal of frustration and quite a lot of grumbling. But was there a popular uprising against Al Sisi? No, on the contrary. Egyptians’ reaction was again unfathomable to non-Egyptians. Those who could afford it bought power generators, and those who could not continued to curse Morsi! Being Egyptian this behavior makes total sense, but probably not to non-Egyptians.
The final baffling piece of behavior to non-Egyptians came with the request put out by the still extremely popular President for Egyptians to participate in the financing of the digging of the new branch of the Suez Canal. What non-Egyptians do not understand is that Egyptians have thirsted for a project that would unify them in their love of their country, something that would raise Egypt back to its former standing in the world community. This project was it. So even though most Egyptians loudly proclaim their poverty, in five working days Egyptians contributed to that project more than 50% of the needed capital to the tune of over 35 billion pounds. It was the contribution of the horrendous number of the poor that made that figure possible. There were housewives who went and bought these certificates for whatever amounts they had squirreled out of their household expenses. A project that tickled the Egyptian imagination and aroused all patriotic feelings compelled Egyptians from all walks of life to buy these certificates. The running joke with a tongue in cheek was: An “unpopular” President asked his “broke” people for money, so they gave him 38 billion pounds in 5 days.
It seems that the Egyptian peoples’ “operating manual” is now being revised and re-written to try to make sense of such seemingly unpredictable behavior. God bless Egypt and Egyptians.