Thursday, July 18, 2013

Honest words on Egypt

The French intellectual Franz-Olivier Giesbert didn't mince his words in an editorial in the weekly magazine Le Point concerning the recent rebellion and military intervention in Egypt. In the political domain, Giesbert—a journalist who has often whispered in the ears of French presidents—is reputed for his habit of calling a spade a spade.

Concerning the lukewarm reactions of leftist France to major events in Egypt, "FOG" (as he is called) pulls no punches. The French magazine has authorized me to publish my translation of Franz-Olivier Giesbert's editorial. Click here to access the original article.

Egyptian Rebellion and Unspeakable Racism

Editorial by Franz-Olivier Giesbert

In France, unspeakable thoughts of a racist or colonial kind are starting to taint the soul of the leftist establishment. African economic progress, for example, has been hailed by observers throughout the world, except in France (apart from a few exceptions). Recent Arab revolutions have not really been taken seriously by the French Left, which observed with horror the fall of the nasty president Morsi.

A week or so ago, when 14 million Egyptians (out of a population of 83 million) took to the streets to condemn the Islamic regime of the Muslim Brotherhood, astute leftist observers in France found the situation confusing, as if it were normal that Arab peoples should remain forever under the yoke of rigidly absurd Islamic systems, forbidden to break down the archaic walls that have held them in for so long.

In conventional thinking, every Arab is necessarily a Muslim. In a slip of the tongue, a former French president once laid bare the dogmatic logic that dominates French attitudes towards Arabs. They are all Muslims, not of the moderate kind, but rather bigoted Islamists of a backward nature, unfit for the 21st century. This is the humiliating caricature that was recently erased by millions of Egyptians with a thirst for liberty. And their massive emergence on the political scene triggered the fall of the Morsi regime.

One of the greatest human tidal waves in history swept over Egypt, and outside observers were at a loss to understand what was happening. The Tamarod rebellion was not a familiar item in their mindset, so they imagined it as something dangerous. Then the military intervention seemed to mess up the situation even more.

Certain observers predict utter chaos. They forget that the chaos was already present, prior to the rebellion. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were hopeless managers, who operated in a suicidal sectarian style, driving the nation to doom. They chained up the nation's economic forces and resources, and hung on jealously to the key. That was their sole achievement. Instead of creating a lawful state and establishing meaningful links between all the nation's economic actors, they confiscated Egypt's wealth and installed subservient pawns in all the key roles throughout the nation, using methods that brought back memories of the Iranian mullahs under Khomeini. Furthermore, they turned a blind eye upon thugs who terrorized religious minorities such as the Copts, many of whom were pushed into exile as a consequence of this "like it or leave" state of affairs.

Stultified by their religious convictions, members of the Muslim Brotherhood were obsessed by the unique goal of Islamizing the topsy-turvy Egyptian society, whose citizens were already in a state of frustrated frenzy. Drivers had to queue up for hours at gas stations. Murders were multiplied by three in a single year. Among young people under 24 years old, unemployment soared to over 40%, while annual inflation hit the 11% mark. (Concerning the phenomenon of inflation, still seen by certain anti-Europeans as a miracle solution for France, the Egyptian disaster should have been interpreted as a terrible warning.)

When a government decides foolishly to ignore economics, the inexorable rigors of economic science soon seek revenge, spontaneously. In Egypt, this revenge was dramatic. Tourism provides a frightening example of the economic stupidity of the Muslim Brotherhood, who simply despised this industry that used to represent 11% of Egypt's gross domestic product, employing some 3 million individuals. The Brotherhood even added insult to injury by appointing a radical Islamist as the governor of Luxor. In the domain of tourism, this fellow had acquired some experience. In 1997, his group of insurgents, al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, had participated in the massacre of 58 foreign tourists (not to mention 4 Egyptians) at the Hatchepsut temple. Those were notorious credentials, indeed, which did not go unnoticed in the world of tourism.

The management of a nation is far too serious an affair to be left to a rabble band. Encouraged by the people, the Egyptian army therefore kicked out Morsi just in time to avoid a catastrophe. If ever the Islamic trap had engulfed the nation, bringing with it the threat of civil war, that catastrophe would have become a reality. Today, it is still too early to affirm that the catastrophe has been definitively avoided. The army will be responsible for writing Egypt's imminent history.

Morsi's supporters have been manhandled brutally in the streets, but the army seems to be acting more subtly, with political skill, behind the scenes. The army has looked kindly upon the al-Nour Salafist group, whose members first supported the military intervention and then reneged over the appointment of Mohamed el-Baradei, the army's choice as a prime minister. The military chiefs have promised legislative elections by the start of 2014. Let us see this as a harbinger of future Egyptian harmony.

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