He is tough, feisty and straight to the point. Journalist and blogger Wael Abbas speaks to us about his views on the revolution.
How do you see Egypt’s future in the hands of the army?
I don’t think the power should remain with the army for a long period. The army should work on ending this transitional period and leave quickly. The army must keep in mind that the revolutionaries entrusted them with protecting the revolution, so that no one would overthrow the revolution or turn against it, but not to give the army a chance to manage the revolution in their own way and that’s unfortunately what’s happening now.
People should keep focusing on their demands; they shouldn’t tolerate anything until their demands are met. People shouldn’t start saying that we should give the authorities a chance or cut them some slack or not, that’s nonsense. We’ve never heard of a revolution that waited for anyone, or trusted someone especially if this someone was affiliated to the previous regime. This trust they’re talking about is unjustified especially since Tantawy, the current Prime Minister* (Ahmed Shafiq) and a lot of ministers in the cabinet are from the previous regime. The legitimacy of this country now lies with the street masses and they should voice their opinions.
What’s your opinion on what some analysts are saying that the situation in Egypt might evolve into something similar to the Turkish system, where the army plays a larger role in the political scene?
I don’t think that, because we’ve never heard that the army has any kind of ideology whether religious or secular. In addition to that I believe that it’s not in the army’s best interest to indulge in any political matter because they are already involved in other activities, especially economic ones, and it is turning into an economic entity, as the army is now involved in many investments in the country, which is another wrong doing but now is not the time to talk about that.
What about the possibility that the US will try to help the Muslim Brotherhood transform into an Egyptian AKP?
I’d rule out any possibility that the United States would use the Muslim Brotherhood; I’m just not convinced. However my concern regarding all Islamists not only the brotherhood is that they’d gain power, and transform into a strong entity giving a chance for the army to use them as an excuse to pounce upon them and on all other Islamist groups in general, then on the revolution. They can take control over the revolution just like what Gamal Abdel Nasser did.
Back then it would have been really easy for Egypt to turn into a proper democracy, we could have had a multiparty system, with strong opposition and fierce political competition, but Abdel Nasser and his fellow officers preferred to keep the revolution for themselves as the only beneficiaries. This happened in 1986 in Sudan and in 1994 in Algeria, and we should not repeat these mistakes again.
What do you think of the counter-revolution theory?
I think that the counter revolution has settled down now, but there are still people who are trying to show that the revolution itself is a counter revolution by accusing the categorical protests of being organized by the National Democratic Party, and that it is against the revolution, against development and all these false accusations, those people who make such accusations are the ones encouraging the real counter revolution.
Did the revolution succeed because of the huge masses and large number of people?
The large number of people has definitely pressured the regime. When the people united on one specific cause, which was Mubarak’s resignation, that the old regime is corrupt and everyone has been harmed by it one way or another, when all people united for these demands it worked. People might not be aware of the rest of the demands that need political awareness due to the weakness of the civil society, the media and the poor presence of any political party or flow that represents the people’s opinions.
How can we balance between keeping the pressure on the government and keeping the wheel in motion?
The wheel is still in motion, nobody can stop it, and people cope accordingly. When the police force left the streets the citizens formed popular committees to protect their homes, everyone carried a form of weapon, be it a pistol or a stick. I have faith that the people will be able to keep life as we know it going, but those who blame the current political movement of disrupting their lives, that is what I do not agree on because the disruption now is for those who used to manipulate the people, and steal their rights. So those who want to prevent the people from claiming their rights by saying that they are disturbing the wheel of development that’s not true at all.
How do u see the role of ‘young’ media?
Your role is to put pressure for free media. The previous regime had placed a lot of obstacles on your freedom but now they no longer exist and you have all the freedom in the world. You should speak about everything, you should discuss everything, you’ve already broken all the barriers so do not give a chance for anyone to push you back to the situation before the revolution.
How do u see the future?
I see that the future depends on the people and on their insistence to achieve all the revolution’s demands. They should insist on reaching the desired state of democracy and only then we all can rest.
Will people get bored?
I hope not.
How can we sustain these feelings?
By continuing with our awareness campaigns, in revealing all what’s going on, and we have to stop saying that we love the Army and all this nonsense. The army was given a job and they will do this mission regardless of our emotions towards them.
What are your plans for what’s next?
I am a blogger and a journalist and my role is to cover events and criticize. I’ll keep on doing that and I hope that it would be of use.