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Egypt in Crisis, Self-governed Cairo, and the Emergence of Egypt's Civil Society

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In an earlier article published under the title "'The Collapse of the Mubarak Regime and the Re-birth of Egypt'' (amongst others: click here), I expanded on the underlying reasons of the present moment upheaval.

It is true that under the Mubarak regime Egypt was run exactly opposite to what most of the Egyptians would have wished their country to be ruled. But it would be very simplistic to automatically establish a divide of the type "'Civil, democratic society supporters vs. an autocratic regime''.

1. Fragmented, Outdated Opposition, Political Myths, Western Mass Media

It is clear that the political oppression, which took the form of elimination of parties from the political arena and of preservation of political parties as a mausoleum-like caricature, triggered the socio-political fragmentation and the theoretical compartmentalization that the ruling regime wanted to create as a means of consolidation of the National Democratic Part (NDP) in the power.

The socio-political fragmentation and the regime-propagated myths prevented most of the Egyptians from seeing their country, their identity, their vocation, their country's position in the area, and the entire world in terms of reality. In this regard, one must specify that Modern Islamism and Pan-Arabism are colonially fabricated theories and socio-behavioural systems, first elaborated in the Orientalist ateliers of the Anglo-French colonial academia and later projected onto the targeted nations in order to help the colonial powers smoothly embed their policies without major opposition.

The Western mass media diffused worldwide an altered image of the Egyptian reality, thus helping the regime myths remain intact in Egypt, and the global public opinion stay in mysteries. In many aspects, the Mubarak regime was catastrophic for the Western interests, contributing to the rightful radicalization of middle and lower social layers. This situation is not exclusively Egyptian and typifies many different countries all over the world. Consequently, Egypt serves as an excellent example of how not to rule a country.

This was clearly shown on Friday, 28 January 2011, when the police stations were burned throughout the country, and in many cases this was done by exasperated police officers who hated themselves for having undeservedly executed immoral and unpopular orders of their superiors. What happened is something that most of the Egyptians would have considered as absolutely impossible a few weeks earlier. In some cases, even the house of the local police head was set in fire.

This shows that the regime was not as strong as many had thought it to be. Another point of despair for the terminating Mubarak regime is the fact that the outright majority of the Egyptians demonstrated a great sense of civic duty, totally isolated the pro-Mubarak protesters, and successfully reduced the extent of the pillage.

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2. Looting, and the Emergence of Egyptian Civic Sense

Many asserted that the pillage was carried out by the policemen themselves; this is really an outrageous lie; it may eventually be due to ignorance of a modern state's structure. In every modern state, there is a para-state organization. Most of the Organized Crime (another term to describe the same scheme) is run by people who hold important positions in the government, the police, the national security, the secret services, the army, the academia (notably selected professors of Law and Medicine), and the circle of business. The aforementioned does not imply either independent structure or regular function with offices and employees.

The structure of the Organized Crime is parasitical, and it could not be otherwise. There is a hierarchy with orders given from the top to the correct subordinates per case, but all the members hold other, officially known, positions that they duly and effectively utilize for the needs of their para-state organization, and of their interests in it. As it happens with secret societies, the members' loyalty is first given to the Organized Crime.  

In the case of the Egyptian insurgence, the looting of some shops (notably Carrefour Maadi), apartments, and the Egyptian Museum must be credited to the Organized Crime. However bad and sad it may be, it triggered - as I already said - a great sense of civic duty among Egyptians. With the disappearance of the police, simple people took the neighborhood's security in their own hands, closing several streets and creating an effective traffic network across Cairo that became the city of 100000 control posts.

This common effort brought together neighbors who had never spoken to one another or even had not known each other. At the control points, there were variably people of all ages, demanding the identity card and the driving license of each car/taxi driver. This occurred the whole day long on Saturday, 29th of January, and to lesser extent on Sunday, 30th of January, and Monday 31st of January. Beyond that term, the controls were effectuated only during the curfew, which on some days (Tuesday 1st of February) started at 15:00 and ended at 8:00, to be later loosened to 19:00 -" 6:00!

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3. Cairo under Curfew

The Egyptian concept of curfew is deeply humane; in other cases, violation of curfew means risking being shot dead. This was never the case in Egypt; simply you had to accept to stop every 500 meters (in some cases 150 m and in few cases 2 km) in front of the control people of the area, talk with them, and show to them your identification documents.

At times, the control people were very friendly, understanding that the process may have been really embarrassing for a driver. At any point of main road, one could find a taxi every 5 or 20 minutes until as late as 23:00.

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Orientalist, Historian, Political Scientist, Dr. Megalommatis, 51, is the author of 12 books, dozens of scholarly articles, hundreds of encyclopedia entries, and thousands of articles. He speaks, reads and writes more than 15, modern and ancient, (more...)

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