Return of the Pharaoh

A king was said to have a male servant, who in all circumstances always said to him, “My King, do not be discouraged because everything God does is perfect, no mistakes. One day, they went hunting and a wild animal attacked the king. The servant managed to kill the animal but could not prevent his majesty from losing a finger. Furious and without showing gratitude, the king said, “If God were good, I would not have been attacked and I would not have lost a finger”. The servant replied, “Despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good and everything He does is perfect, He is never wrong.”

Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of the servant. Later, he left for another hunting and was captured by the savages who used human beings for sacrifice. At the altar, the savages found out that the king did not have a finger, which made him to be incomplete and thus inadequate to be offered to the gods. He was therefore released.

On his return to the palace, the king ordered the release of his servant and said, “My friend, God is really good to me. I was almost killed but for lack of a single finger I was let go. But I have a question, if God is good, why did he allow me to put you in jail?” The servant replied, “My King, if I had gone with you, I would have been sacrificed because I have no missing finger. Everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong.”

With the military madness in Egypt, as the “New York Times” editorial recently put it, increasing in intensity, no one is in doubt that the historical Pharaoh is in the saddle and no Moses appears to be in sight. With the bestial killing through sniper fire, mass murder and arrest of Egyptian citizens cum pro-democracy activists, the solace only lies in the morale of the story above, that nothing really happens for nothing and that there is divine wisdom in everything. Though the images of death and destruction are depressing, it is good to believe that everything happens for a reason and everything happens for the best ultimately.

Perhaps, the days and years ahead will unfold why hundreds, if not thousands, of people had to pay the ultimate price for the purpose of civil rule and democracy in Egypt. It is also unfortunate that when dictators and tyrants run out of ideas, they resort to name calling. The wicked allegation of terrorism against the Muslim Brotherhood members and their other anti-coup activists is a classical manifestation of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.  A coup is a coup and all coups are condemnable. But we live in a world that has lost its conscience and moorings, which is why the putschists and their collaborators are still enjoying the support of those with ulterior motives.

As Zainab Al-Ghazali recounts in her book from which this piece borrows its title, “Return of the Pharaoh”, dark days have descended on the Egyptian people, especially those who have been arrested. The scholar-activist provides the gory details of her nerve-wrenching torture and dehumanisation in Jamal ‘Abd an-Nasir’s jail chambers. Reading the account of what she underwent, including the use of “the snarling dogs…all over me, and I could feel their teeth tearing into every part of my body”, one can only marvel at man’s inhumanity to man. It goes without saying that the Muslim Brotherhood specifically, whose offence is winning a free and fair election, and all pro-democracy activists in general, are having another Pharaonic experience in Egypt now. But the consolation is that the triumph of evil over good is temporary and like all trials, this phase will also pass.

As the human rights of people are violated unabashedly on a daily basis by a desperate junta ready to hold on to power at all costs, it appears that the future is gloomy. To worsen the situation, the body language of the global community is the legitimatisation of what is unequivocally wrong and unacceptable. With pious and tepid statements issued here and there, the Egyptian military brass and their civilian collaborators are upping the ante and committing crime against humanity all in the bid to contain those who were robbed of victory and freedom.

The Muslim Brotherhood that is at the receiving end of this brutal crackdown will ultimately survive the current onslaught just as it had survived the atrocities committed against its leaders and members over fifty years ago and within the intervening period. All dictators and tyrants, including impostors who have never won an election, would sooner or later be blown off by the wind of time. Life will continue anyhow for those who will be liberated by time from their current agonies.

The unfolding tragedy in Egypt should bother all the democracy-loving people of the world as it does not bode well at all for the acclaimed system of government. The brain-washed activists and gullible civil society organisations that staged the rallies that the military lashed upon to oust the democratically-elected President Mohammed Mursi are learning a bitter lesson. They are witnesses to the fact that contrary to their expectation, the reality that confronts them is that the military cannot be trusted. The Egyptians are back to square one and the era of Mubarak is returning.

Against the sorrow that the land of Nile has suddenly become, the intervention of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) earlier in the week provides a roadmap for the resolution of the crisis and restoration of sanity. According to the Council in a press release, cessation of hostilities, unconditional release of the elected President Mursi and all other political detainees, constitution of an independent electoral agency under the supervision of the United Nations, a truly representative national dialogue and an all-inclusive electoral process devoid of mob ‘democracy’ and anarchy are a sure way of making positive progress in Egypt now

Also, it is in the light of what is unfolding in Egypt that we Nigerians owe ourselves the responsibility of making Nigeria work especially as elections draw closer. Our political leaders should conduct themselves with a high sense of responsibility and maturity so that the military class would not be given any excuse of saving any situation. Besides, we should all learn from the experience of the Egyptians, who are learning in a hard way, that revolting against an unpopular government outside the framework of the ballot box will be akin to jumping from the frying pan to fire. The inglorious days of military rule should be confined to the thrashcan of history and the political class should therefore get their acts together.