El-Hamalawy: “Morsi has failed even
in the Simple Bread and Butter Issues”

Interview with socialist activist, journalist and blogger, Hossam El-Hamalawy AKA 3arabawy, who says Egypt is on the brink of class warfare

By Ethar Shalaby

Ethar Shalaby: How do you view the current polarization in the country following Morsi’s constitutional declaration?

Hossam El-Hamalawy: The latest constitutional declaration has quite a contradictory nature. On the one hand, it does respond to some of the demands of the revolution, which includes impeaching Mubarak’s Prosecutor General Abdel-Magid Mahmoud, who is a notorious figure, who covered up corruption all throughout Mubarak’s years in office. Moreover, it is a response to the sham and kangaroo mock-trials, which have taken place after the revolution, which also saw the acquittal of most of the police officers and regime’s figures. So, on the one hand it is something positive—that we saw this guy going away.

We want to see re-trials of those police officers and regime figures. But this is just a small part of the package. The package of the constitutional declaration includes other measures, that give Morsi sweeping powers to do whatever he wishes to do, and to get away with it without any sort of accountability, including the creation of the current constitution, a process from which almost everybody except factions from the Islamist forces have withdrawn in protest. So, anyway, the mobilization that is happening also draws some concerns.

Ethar Shalaby: What do you say with regards to the massive protests in Tahrir over the past few days?

Hossam El-Hamalawy: On one hand, I am definitely happy to see these mass protests taking place against Morsi. I am happy to see people getting disillusioned with Morsi, because yes people on Twitter from day one have been calling for boycotts, etc.… but in the street, you can say that there is a wide section of the Egyptian population who were exhausted. They were really hoping that Morsi would do something, not necessarily because they like the Brotherhood, but they are like, “we don’t want Shafiq.” Maybe this guy is going to do something, he knows God, anything that people can claim to be the reason of any sort of hope.

Regarding [Morsi’s] performance over the past few months, not only when it comes to purging the Interior Ministry or holding notorious figures of the regime accountable for their political crimes, but even the bread and butter issues… On many occasions, he failed miserably.

He continued with the neo-liberal policies of the previous regime, he accelerated them. He took hypocritical contradictory positions. When they were still in the parliament, the Brotherhood mobilized against the loans from the IMF and the World Bank, and now they are embracing them in the form of the $4.8 billion loan.

Ethar Shalaby: What do you think about the current trends in the protests?

Hossam El-Hamalawy: We have to put into consideration that there is a section of the feloul, the remnants of the previous regime, that also wants Morsi to go. And they are part of the current mobilization, and that when the polarization gets into Ismalist versus secular, then this means that Amr Moussa can suddenly become a champion of the civil state, can suddenly mean that Tawfiq Okasha becomes a symbol of freedom of expression, can suddenly mean that Ahmed Spider can march in the streets, in order to retrieve the right of the martyr. This is ridiculous, and is opening the door for the real counter-revolutionary forces to get in.

Revolutionaries have to be very careful about this. The sons of Hosni Mubarak, the orphans of Omar Suleiman, and the loyalists of Shafiq can never be our allies.

But there are positive signs, although Amr Moussa, I mean, marched with Hamdin Sabahi and Mohamed ElBaradei yesterday, but he did not dare to enter Tahrir Square, he just U-turned at the Arab League and left. There were big banners that were put in the square saying, “No place for feloul” and “Expel the feloul.” There are forces on the left like the revolutionary socialists, which I belong to; we did issue clear statements against the presence of the feloul in the current demonstrations, and our members did chant against the feloul in the marches.

Ethar Shalaby: So as a revolutionary socialist, you are concerned with this fake alliance between the revolutionaries and the feloul against the Islamists?

Hossam El-Hamalawy: I would be concerned about this. I am not really saying that the Islamists are nice. My concern is with polarization, which is inevitable, in any revolution. I believe that any revolution must reach a point where society gets polarized on whether you want to continue with the revolution, or just stop here, or regress.

Ethar Shalaby: Do you believe that a civil war is erupting in the country today?

Hossam El-Hamalawy: It is a result of polarization. Strictly speaking, civil wars in revolutions are inevitable, but what kind of civil war are we talking about? I know the phrase civil war makes you think of Lebanon, checkups and militias in the streets etc.…we are not talking about this. What I am talking about is that a revolution is a civil war where sections of the society move versus other sections. It is just about which section moves against which sections.

With the current demonstrations that are happening, we are risking getting into a civil war about who is bearded and who is not, who is veiled and who is not. Who is Muslim and who is Christian. Who is a devout Muslim and who is not. This is the kind of suicidal civil war that we can get into. The kind of civil war that a revolution in my view should advocate, it is a class war between those who do not have and those who have.

Daily News Egypt, November 28, 2012