Two officers from the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) came to see me and informed me that they received a tip (or complaint/warning) that I am a member of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group’ based in Montreal. I understood that this allegation is related to my position and organizing against the coup d’etat that took place in my country of birth, Egypt, in early July.
This is of course a completely bogus allegation on many levels, and it doesn’t worry me in the least. What worries me is the state of mind of the people who support the anti-democratic coup, whether they live in Egypt or abroad.
Coup supporters have convinced themselves, or were brainwashed by the Mubarak regime media and “Deep State,” that the Muslim Brotherhood are the problem and with them gone everything will be perfect.
It is true that the year under Morsi’s presidency wasn’t full of successes, but that cannot be attributed to Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood alone. The lack of cooperation by most of the country’s establishment with the elected president takes a large part of blame while the rest falls on the lack of ability of the presidency, the lack of vision and calibre within the ruling party and their inability to find experienced allies and partners or build bridges with other forces.
This was justification for people to take to the streets on June 30 to protest, but no justification what so ever for a military coup that overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected president after just one year in office.
This coup, and the suspension of the constitution, the closing of media, the attack on liberties and the bloody massacres that followed needed to be justified. Enter the one-size-fits-all justification: terrorism.
Not only were the Muslim Brotherhood a failure as a governing party, and not only were they going to entrench themselves in the country in a way that would never have allowed anyone to remove them from office by any means, democratic or other (a fear that proved to be a myth since after a year in power Morsi had no support in the power structure to even fight back against a coup he knew was coming for even a couple of hours), they were also terrorists. This claim would justify any action to be taken against them including dismantling them and disallowing them from participating in the political process.
Before any law was passed or any official decision was made the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood had been chased, caught and detained with lame bogus charges, including the president himself. And this is now slowly spreading to other opposition figures from outside the Muslim Brotherhood who are not in agreement with the coup.
Many inside and outside of Egypt are vocal against the coup. Many, who like myself are not supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood but believe that democracy and rule of law are the only long-term solution to any country’s problems, continue to speak up. How could we not when this grave injustice is happening and when so much is at stake?
The long-term effect is even more serious than the removal of a president, than the unlawful imprisonment of thousands, even than the murder of hundreds. By excluding large segments of society from the right to express their opinion through the political process they are given no venue but to resort to violence, at least some of them. We don’t want to see Egypt go through what Algeria went through in the 1990s. So we continue to speak out for the benefit of all Egyptians including those who support the coup and don’t want us to be heard.
In Egypt dissenting voices are being attacked, discredited, and, if this doesn’t work, detained or even killed. It seems some coup supporters in Canada decided that this should happen here too and filed that allegation against me.
Why me in particular? I don’t know if others were also targeted, but I think I was targeted because it is known that I don’t support the Muslim Brotherhood. I was frequently a vocal opponent of theirs so my position now is proof that many oppose the coup in defence of democracy and freedoms not out of political allegiance. A position the coup supporters claim does not exist: you are either with us or you are a terrorist.
It is time for the coup supporters — who are justifying any means, moral or immoral, legal or illegal, to attack their opponents and defend the coup — to look in the mirror and decide what kind of Egypt, and world, they want to create.
Ehab Lotayef is a Montreal engineer, activist and poet of Egyptian origin. His most recent poem, Coup d’etat, can be read here.
There is a major demonstration planned by opponents of the coup in Egypt this Saturday, Sept. 7 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa — more information here.