- 07/04/2019 at 9:15 am #1326433EduGorillaKeymasterSelect Question Language :
THE shoes of Hussein Tantawi, the 76-year-old field- marshal who has led Egypt since February’s revolution, were stolen recently from the door of a mosque (Muslims pray barefoot). Or so says a rumour, speedily plundered for jokes and flashed around by text message, Twitter and Facebook. One purported ransom note read: “Give us back our government and we’ll give back the shoes.”
Ever humourless, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the ruling body headed by the field- marshal, issued a statement denying that any high- ranking footwear had gone missing. But the gibes have persisted, perhaps because, as is often true in a country famed for sharp wit, the joking masks serious messages.
One is growing public irritation at remaining under the thumb of an army that repeatedly promised to surrender power to an elected civilian government but that keeps finding excuses to linger, while trying civilians in military courts—more than 12,000 so far. Egyptians look enviously towards Tunisia, which also rose up last winter but has almost completed a smooth transition to democracy.
Three weeks before elections that might at an earlier stage have been cheered as a stride in the right direction, many Egyptians are in a grim mood. The economy is sinking into an ever-deeper mess. Military rulers appear incompetent, out of touch and violently reactionary, while civilian politicians bicker and appear increasingly polarised between Islamists and secularists.
Worst of all, the road map for transition outlined by the generals is so meandering and open-ended that many Egyptians find it hard to discern a horizon that might mark the end of their country’s political transition. Polls that open on November 28th, for instance, are only the first of no fewer than 12 rounds of voting that wall take place over the following three months. These are to choose both upper and lower houses of parliament, according to a bewilderingly complex voting formula that mixes proportional and direct representation while reserving half of all seats for “workers and peasants”. These bodies will then, in theory’, choose a 100-person constitution-writing council, which would submit its draft to a referendum after six months, followed by presidential elections and then, presumably, more elections for a fresh parliament under new rules.
Even more frustratingly the generals have decided to change the rules. Concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood and its more extreme Islamist allies could win enough parliamentary scats to force through a radical constitution, they have belatedly pressed for a set of supra-constitutional principles that would bind future drafters. Some secularists have welcomed a proposed clause that describes the army as a guarantor of the civil (as opposed to religious) nature of the state.
But the generals seem to have overreached with their latest demands, alienating not only Islamists. Li^rals were outraged by suggestions that Egypt’s military budget should be shielded from parliamentary oversight, while the SCAF enjoys veto power over any legislation affecting the army.
As has happened several times since the revolution, faced with pressure the army backed down and suggested compromises. But in the eyes of many Egyptians it has now revealed its hand, proring that it is not particularly interested in democracy and rather keen on ensuring its own dominance. With the country’s liberals in perennial disarray and Islamists scenting a chance to put on a convincing show of force at the polls, the stage looks set for an uncomfortable and prolonged struggle. Much as under Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president, Egyptians may find themselves choosing between the stuffiness of military rule and the constraints imposed by Islamists.
What message do people of Egypt want to pass by spreading the jokes about the missing shoes?
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They want to stress upon the muslim faith of praying barefoot.
They want to threaten the military so that they do the transition quickly.
They want to overthrow Hussein Tantawi’s ruling machinery.
They wash to express their growing irritation towards an army that made false promises to them.
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