Last Saturday renowned broadcaster Dina Abdel Rahman went to host her daily program on the Tahrir TV network and was surprised to find that the management had lined up another anchor to host an alternative show in her place. Dina Abdel Rahman is one of the most successful broadcasters in Egypt, thanks to her competence, courage and commitment to presenting the facts without submitting to political pressures. Dina is known for exposing the heinous crimes that security and army personnel committed against demonstrators.
The owner of the Tahrir channel, Suleiman Amer is a businessman accused of misdeeds in a land deal in Suleimaniya. According to the al-Badil website, Amer and the military council have reached an agreement by which Amer gets rid of programs that criticize the military council and in return the military council will close the file for good on the Suleimaniya land issue. Within weeks all the people who criticized the policies of the military council have been taken off the Tahrir channel: Hamdi Kandil, Ibrahim Eissa and Duaa Sultan, and now Dina Abdel Rahman.
On the same day she was replaced the newspapers reported that Mamdouh Hamza would be questioned by State Security prosecutors on suspicion of sabotage and working to overthrow the state. Hamza is one of the most important civil engineers in the world whose prestigious international prizes are an honour to every Egyptian. He is also one of the leading lights in the Egyptian revolution. The investigation by the State Security prosecutors is based on a tape in which Hamza allegedly promises to destroy and burn Egypt with a hellish and dreadful plan. Any child in Egypt would know that the recording is fabricated in a way that is both unprofessional and unintelligent.
This is not the first time Mamdouh Hamza has been punished for criticizing the policies of the military council. On a previous occasion, he was questioned on suspicion of charges including "giving public opinion the false impression that corruption still exists." This is the latest fashion: the Mubarak regime will use vague charges to punish its opponents, such as "disturbing social peace," "creating confusion among the public," and "inciting hatred of the system of government." With his education, his high status and devotion to Egypt, Mamdouh Hamza is above the trivialities of these accusations. But it is still a part of a campaign to inflict exemplary punishment on all those who object to the military council's policies.
The campaign is not confined to trumped-up charges and harassing people at work. A number of assaults have also been arranged, the latest of which was against Member of Parliament Mohamed Abu Hamid, punishment for advocating an immediate transfer of power from the military council to a civilian authority.
We are discovering that rule by the military council is a carbon copy of Mubarak's regime. Mubarak's aim was to stay in power and ensure that his son succeeded him. Although the military council was happy to end this succession plan and declare itself protector of the revolution, everything it has done in the past year has been to contain and abort the revolution and change it into a mere coup. The ruler may have changed but the system remains as it was.
The military council made an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood to benefit from the movement's popularity, and in return it helped them win a majority in parliament. The military council set the rules for the elections in a way that helped the Brotherhood win. The supreme electoral commission did nothing to stop electoral abuses, committed by the Brotherhood and the Salafists, and in the end they received the result the military council wanted for them. These elections may not have been rigged but they were definitely unfair.
The Egyptian revolution has fallen between the hammer of the military and the anvil of the Brotherhood. The military want to abort the revolution and stay in power behind the scenes, while the Brotherhood wants to obtain power at any price.
As for the crimes, can the current People's Assembly investigate General Hamdi Badeen, the commander of the military police, for the brutalities his troops have committed, all of which have been photographed and recorded? Can the People's Assembly withdraw confidence from Prime Minister Ganzoury or even from the Interior Minister? After the Port Said massacre, which was despicably planned to take revenge on the young revolutionaries who are members of the football Ultras, the military council merely sent a fact-finding committee that made no mention of the fact that the military police were present during the massacre and did nothing to save the victims but only pinned the blame on the security forces, the football federation and the spectators?
All the signs indicate that the People's Assembly cannot cross the lines set by the military council. There are some members of parliament (liberals and Islamists) who are trying hard to take the right positions but the majority belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the military council has kept all the officials affiliated with the Mubarak regime: from the judges who supervised the faulty elections, to the public prosecutor, as well as the head of the government's audit bureau, the governor of the central bank and the senior police officers who killed and dehumanized Egyptians. Newspapers have reported that former Interior Minister Mansour Eissawi gave a secret order to pay large sums of money to officers accused of killing demonstrators, in order to raise their morale. So while the families of the victims were demanding revenge, the interior minister was paying rewards to the killers.
The breakdown in law and order, the spread of anarchy and thuggery, and the shortages of basic foodstuffs: all of these are the sole responsibility of the military council. We cannot forgive the military council on the grounds of political inexperience because it was the council itself that rejected the idea of a civilian presidential council and insisted on monopolizing power and treating ministers as secretarial staff. Roads have been blocked, trains stopped and churches set ablaze before the eyes of the military police, who have looked on without intervening, except when they need to save a Mubarak regime official besieged by demonstrators or supress demonstrators opposed to the military council. With the demonstrators they have committed brutal crimes, from shooting people dead and blinding them with shotgun fire to molesting women and dragging them through the streets.
The military council has not only left Egyptians to struggle through these ordeals but, to intimidate people further, keeps repeating that there are major conspiracies acting to bring down the state. It seemed that Egyptians, worn out by crises and alarmed at the lack of security, would turn against the revolution, but massive rallies across the country on the first anniversary of the revolution proved that Egyptians are still committed to carry out the objectives of the revolution.
As for the young revolutionaries, the finest and bravest Egypt has ever produced, the military council has tried to break their will through successive campaigns that have turned into tragic massacres. Although dozens have been killed and hundreds injured, the young revolutionaries have emerged victorious, with their will unbroken. The media has begun an organized and large-scale campaign to discredit the revolutionaries, whom they initially treated as national heroes but then accused as traitors financed from abroad. Now the military council has taken us by surprise with a vicious campaign against certain NGOs, accusing them of receiving illegal funds and of wanting to divide Egypt into smaller states. Why did the military council say nothing about these organizations for a whole year when they were operating under its nose? Why didn't the military council respond in a similar manner when Israeli forces violated our border and killed six members of the Egyptian army?
If the military council rejects foreign funding and insists that all NGOs and political parties should have transparent budgets, then of course we are fully supportive. But the supervision of foreign funding seems to be limited to non-religious organizations. Why doesn't the military council inspect the funding of the Brotherhood and the Salafists to find out where they obtained the millions of pounds they spent during the elections? Is it because the Brotherhood is allied with the military council? Is the military council punishing the other NGOs because they have played an important role in exposing brutal crimes against demonstrators?
If the military council remains in power it will lead to a flawed constitution and the election of a president whom the military council will control from behind the scenes, just as it now controls the prime minister. The time has come for the military to give power to an elected civilian body so that the army can go back to barracks and perform its basic role defending the country.