Yesterday, I came across a video on youtube entitled “يعني أيه التيار الرئيسي المصري؟؟”. When I first saw the title, I imagined it would be something produced and executed by anti-protesters who would spin the economy and security yarns. This wasn’t because I thought that these were the views of the “Egyptian mainstream” but because I felt that anyone with the gall to give such a name to a video had to belong to this group.
Instead this is what I got. [Please watch the video before reading the next part of the post. Also, the video is in Arabic.]
I watched the video three times over a period of two hours – so as to give myself a chance of forming a non-hasty opinion of it. My first impressions were such:
- An amateur professional filmed and edited this video; definite signs of investment of effort into it.
- Scripted – with some leeway in what they talk about.
- All the women in the video were veiled.
- The piano playing throughout the video is kitschy and annoying. Almost like they were talking to us from some sort of heaven.
- I feel the man who starts speaking at 2:29 is an engineer and perhaps needs to work for the Egyptian authority for bridges and roads or the Ministry of Planning. Also, I have never been attacked by a dog on the street as long as I did not attempt to aggravate the dog in some way or form.
- Perhaps the video should have been called the Egyptian upper class mainstream. None of these people looked like workers or laborers or technicians of any sort.
- A lot of Egyptians are sheep and cling strongly to this mentality.
- I felt they were all “young professionals” who are trying to go about forming a political party in a “scientific” manner; using broad terms to include members of the “silent majority”, university students and fresh graduates to ensure largest number of members.
- These people will definitely use power points presentations in their meetings and at least half of them will have laptops open and taking notes.
- It is very patronizing and condescending of them to call this “The Egyptian Mainstream” ( ‘The’ pronounced Zee) and not the The Egyptian Mainstream Movement or something of the sort. They got it the other way round, didn’t they? The mainstream should come first and then you talk about it, you don’t create it. Or, do you? [I realized this inner debate would not end, so I dropped it.]
These are, very seriously, the ideas that ran through my head as I watched the video for the first time. When I showed my mother the video she commented after watching about 3 minutes of it: They cannot rid themselves of the one-party mentality. Then she walked away, dis-interested. Please note that my mother is 100% a-political and though she reads multiple newspapers, she does not like to actively discuss politics for more than a minute at a time.
I also felt that some of them contradicted each other – which shows that they came from different political participation backgrounds. Some insisted that they would shed their differences and at least one or two spoke of including a main set of ideas that would not contradict with pre-existing views or principles. This wasn’t so much an issue though as much as the impression I got that they believed that having differences divides us and makes us weaker an unable to help the country or move forward etc.
If you shift that line of thought, it seems to me that this is exactly the way of thinking – the idea that we should all be homogeneous as a people – that spurs religious tension and strife in the country as well as racial and class prejudices and discrimination.
Also, the video did not state or list a clear set of ideas or principles that they follow or believe in. This does not necessarily make it any “weaker” – it did look like a promotional video – but it made me feel like I wasted 25 minutes of my time listening to a number of people saying that we should all unite and there is strength in numbers as well as ‘we want Tahrir values’ to continue… etc
Just before I meant to write and publish this post, I came across this on Facebook (written by a friend of mine – Reem Abu Zahra – also in Arabic). In case Reem hasn’t set her notes to be viewed by the public, below is the text of her note:
التيار الرئيسي” و إحتكار ألهوية المصرية
لا اخفي دهشتي من إعلان ما يسمى ب”التيار الرئيسي” المصري. في بادئ الأمر لم اصدق عيناى و أنا اقرأ العنوان “التيار الرئيسي” و بتعريف اللام… و عند قراءة التفاصيل في كتابات الدكتور معتز عبد الفتاح لا اخفي صدمتي. بصرف النظر عن طبيعة الشخوص التي نصبت نفسها محددة للهوية و حدود و الإطار العام للشخصية المصرية المعروف معظمهم بميلهم نحو تيار الإسلام السياسي كالدكتور طارق البشرى و حتى معتز عبد الفتاح، إلا أن هذا لا يعنيني بقدر ما تعنيني فكرة محاولة رسم حدود هوية الشخصية المصري كما يراها بعض الأشخاص مهما بلغت درجة العبقرية و التسامح. فمجرد إعلان كهذا في حد ذاته يعنى إنهم ليسوا على استعداد أن يتسامحوا مع قطاعات من الشعب المصري إذا لم يكونوا من “التيار الرئيسي.”
التعريف يعنى أن أى شخصية خارجة عن هذا التيار الرئيسي هو ليس مصريا أو على أقصى تقدير “مصري نص نص” فاقد أو منقوص الهوية و فاقد أو منقوص الأهلية و بالتالي فاقد القدرة على ممارسة مصريته بالكامل. كيف يمارسها و هو “شاذا” عن التيار الرئيسي؟
من أعطى بعض أفراد الشرعية لمهمة كهذه؟ من فوضهم؟ و من يحدد من هو المعتدل اذا كان عبود الزمر نفسه أحد رواد العنف الديني السياسي يرى انه معتدل و غير متطرف الفكر.
مصر لكل الأطياف و الألوان بكل أفكارهم و أشكالهم و توجهاتهم و طباعهم و اهتماماتهم على اختلافها و هذا أجمل ما في مصر. لكل فرد أن يحدد هويته كما يراها و المشترك بيننا جميعا إننا مصريين و علينا احترام بعضنا طالما لم يعتد طرف على حرية طرف آخر بدون عنف و لا استبداد طرف لطرف حتى و ان كانت ديكتاتورية الأغلبية.
ما يفعله “رواد” ما يسمى ب”التيار الرئيسي” هو محاولة لاحتكار الشخصية المصرية و اختطافا لها و هو غير مقبول إطلاقا بل و يرقى لمرتبة الفكر الفاشىا.
مصر لكل المصريين. و الهوية مش بالعافية
(I apologize for any formatting errors that might have occurred – still trying to get the hang of wordpress and multi-language posts)
I will leave it to you to analyze what she’s written and to form your own views about it. Reem has definitely gone much further than I would have in criticizing them – but this is only because (too many headaches!) I had previously decided that this movement wasn’t worth the time or effort (more than a single, quick blog post at any rate).
One of the comments on her note pointed to this declaration (also in Arabic) which they called, very concisely, The Document. Other than the strange fixation with appointing itself the caretaker (through defining anything it does as “The” whatever-the-thing-is), I have no problem with the movement’s document of principles.
I do have a problem with the fact that they really haven’t said or done anything beyond it, although apparently the preparatory meeting to set up the document was 2 days after Mubarak stepped down.
How will I react to this document or anyone who belongs to that movement? I will nod my head at them, tell them I like the document and ask them what’s the plan now.
Because, really? That’s what is important now. It will be at that point that I will probably figure out just how united is this movement in its “unity” and what exact path/ideology/principles they follow.