We will stand against Sisi

April 30, 2014

For the second time in a month, an Egyptian court in Minya has sentenced hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death. The April 28 verdict condemns to death Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's spiritual leader, along with some 680 others, supposedly for the killing of a single police officer during clashes between protesters and police in Edwa, Egypt, last summer. Demonstrators had taken to the streets to protest the military's ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi. The subsequent crackdown on Brotherhood protests claimed the lives of around 1,000 protesters in a single day.

Also on April 28, a Cairo court banned the April 6 Youth Movement--one of the leading forces in the 2011 revolution that overthrew hated dictator Hosni Mubarak--on charges of espionage.

Both trials make a mockery of the rule of law. Some of those sentenced to death, for example, were too infirm to have participated in protests--and in the case of Badie, he had made public statements in favor of nonviolence. The April 6 Youth Movement likewise advocates nonviolence, but according to Egyptian state media, it was found guilty of conspiring with foreign powers in "committing acts that distort the image of the Egyptian state."

The death sentences were met with anger. "They must want to turn Minya into Syria and start a civil war, because that is what will happen if any of these death sentences is executed," said Ahmed Omar, a shopkeeper whose two brothers were sentenced to death in absentia.

The verdicts starkly illustrate the Egyptian regime's intention to use show trials and other forms of judicial repression to help the government impose a broad clampdown on all dissent in the run-up to a presidential election on June 5. The election is widely expected to install Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the head of the military, as president. Here, we reprint a statement by the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt taking stock of recent developments and laying out its assessment of the upcoming election.

ALL THE institutions of the state are mobilizing behind Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi--from the army, to the police, the government, the judges, the media and the bosses--in preparation for his coronation as president on June 5.

Falling coincidentally on the anniversary of the "Setback" [Egypt's defeat by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War], this day will mark the announcement that the counterrevolution's candidate has ascended the throne.

El-Sisi has been touted for the past nine months as the savior of the nation, the leader of the war on terrorism--not just Gamal Abdel Nasser's successor, but also Anwar Sadat's and even Hosni Mubarak's. He has the solution to every problem. He has not been shy of trading on the hopes of millions affected by Hepatitis C by offering a placebo developed by the army.

It was Sisi, not the Minister of Housing, who signed a contract to build a million flats in conjunction the United Arab Emirates, thus trading on the dreams of people living in cemeteries. It is for his sake that the interim government is holding back from imposing increases in the cost of gas and from abolishing subsidies, so that the popularity of his rule will not be affected by decisions that will instead send prices rocketing after he has arrived in power.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi

The presidential elections take place when the revolution is in retreat among the masses, and the counterrevolution is on the attack. We see the return of a police state of even greater brutality, committing unprecedented massacres, arresting and torturing thousands, storming and besieging university campuses, issuing laws that restrict the freedom to protest and assaulting the independence of the workers' movement.

The counterrevolution hopes to achieve a crushing victory over the revolutionary forces through the presidential elections--in order to have yet another opportunity for further brutality and attacks on the revolution and freedoms.

THIS IS why the Revolutionary Socialists see participation in the election, and not a boycott, as the appropriate decision for the current political situation, seizing the chance to campaign against the candidate of the counterrevolution in order to expose him, Mubarak's cronies and the opportunistic bootlickers who stand behind him.

We take this position despite our principled criticisms of Hamdeen Sabahi's stance. We disagree with him fundamentally, in particular after June 30, 2013, as he has remained silent on the violations of freedom by the Interior Ministry and the army, including massacres and arrests, torture and the storming of university campuses. He has even supported the lie of the "war on terrorism," which the state is using as a pretext for the return of the police state.

Yet we see at the same time that millions of Egyptians are beginning to doubt el-Sisi's illusory rhetoric and program, and are starting to look for an alternative. We call on these forces to vote for Hamdeen Sabahi, as every vote which is lost to el-Sisi is valuable, if not today then tomorrow, in building the genuine, broad opposition which is becoming more rooted as each day passes.

The presidential elections express the dilemma of the Egyptian Revolution, which led to the absence of a candidate who completely adopts the demands and goals of the revolution. On this basis, we call on Hamdeen Sabahi and his campaign to re-evaluate his support for the current regime that is restoring Mubarak's state.

We call on his supporters and voters to put pressure on him to declare that his program will adhere to the January Revolution's goals of bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity, and to adopt the following themes:

1. Transitional justice for killers of the martyrs from the January 25 revolution until today in retribution for their crimes;

2. The release of prisoners and the abolition of laws restricting freedoms, including the law on demonstrations and the use of military trials against civilians, as well as positive confirmation of the right to organize;

3. Redistribution of wealth through the imposition of a new tax system and the application of the minimum and maximum wage across the public and private sectors;

4. An end to dictatorship and the creation of a popular participatory democracy as well as freedom and independence for the trade union and workers' movement;

5. Freedom from dependency; guarantees of national independence.

We will not leave the masses prey to the propaganda of the counterrevolution, and we will not take the puritanical stance of boycotting the elections, despite our respect for the rationale for doing this. We will join the electoral battle to expose el-Sisi's illusions and to destroy the idol that Mubarak's state is erecting as it rebuilds itself.

The revolution continues, glory to the martyrs, power and wealth to the people.

The Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt
April 27, 2014

First published at Socialist Worker (Britain).

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