This reposted blog of a piece by Ursula Lindsey in the NY Times pretty much expresses my feelings of where Egypt stands. Why paraphrase, her words do better justice to this opinion than mine could ever do.
CAIRO — Two police officers are on trial for beating to death a young Egyptian man, Khaled Said, in broad daylight. Outside the Alexandria courthouse where they are being tried, rows of riot police and a small band of protesters face off. The demonstrators chant anti-police slogans and are beaten and arrested.
Democracy and human rights activists in Egypt are exhausted and worried. Many of them have spent the two and a half years since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak working nonstop — monitoring elections, submitting reform plans to ministers who have ignored them, counting bodies at the morgue — only to find themselves back at square one. The situation is “the worst it’s been since the 1990s,” a veteran human rights defender told me recently.
It’s not just professional activists who are discouraged. The artists, bloggers and professionals who make up most of my Egyptian friends all went to Tahrir Square in January 2011. After that, many regularly attended protests against the army, the government or the Brotherhood. They used to refer to those who stayed at home, mockingly, as hizb el-kanaba, or the couch party. Now they are the ones who feel left on the sidelines, appalled both by the Islamists who have just lost power and the military that took over from them.
A friend who ran as a liberal candidate in the first parliamentary elections after Mubarak stepped down recently asked on Facebook whether it might be time to leave the country. Hundreds of comments poured in. Some argued that Egypt needed people like him more than ever; others said the country won’t see change for another generation.
Egypt’s interim civilian government says it wants to pursue a transition to democracy. But it seems to have little power to rein in a security apparatus that is once again acting with impunity. Egypt is facing a real insurgency both in the Sinai peninsula, where jihadis are attacking the army and the police in retaliation for killing hundreds of supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi this summer, and in the south of the country, where Islamists have terrorized Christians. But the security forces’ crackdown on suspected terrorists and the entire Muslim Brotherhood also includes sweeping, indiscriminate arrests, the usual brutality and a campaign of incitementagainst critics that labels them “traitors” and “fifth columnists.”
The April 6 youth movement, the group of activists who spearheaded protests against Mubarak and opposed both the military leadership and Morsi, has been the target of a relentless campaign of disinformation and intimidation. In a recent interview, Ahmad Maher, a founder of the group, said: “We have lost a large part of our rank and file. The regime’s intelligence service has intimidated many activists. Others have dropped out due to pressure from friends or family. They simply do not dare to take part in our activities any longer. We have to practically start over from scratch.”
The existential battle between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood “chokes” political ideas and debate, said Sherif Gaber, one of the members of the nonprofit video collective Mosireen, which has fearlessly documented the street violence of the last two and a half years.
Mosireen just released a searing video entitled “Prayer of Fear.” The footage shows both the carnage and the celebrations that followed the Brotherhood’s fall from power. A young woman wearing a gas mask and a hoodie wanders the streets surrounding Tahrir and recites a poem: “The battle this time isn’t easy / The battle is murky / Are we winning?/ Or in line for slaughter? / Is the question shameful? / Or is silence worse?”
Ursula Lindsey, a journalist based in Cairo, blogs at The Arabist.