“You are a fucking virus“, blasted the reader after reading my latest musings on Ansar Beit Il Maqdis, Islamic State and Egypt. Not the first journalist to be insulted and certainly not the last was the initial reaction. Colleagues and friends insisted this vitriol indicated the article had hit mark and angered those dancing an endless tango with the status quo. But there is something far more insidious at play here. The reader, darkly enough, was correct: there is a virus. Virus your name is an encroaching fascism. While all eyes turn towards economic hardship, political arrests, a jury leaving much to be desired and terrorism it is the decimation of freedom, at every turn, that places Egypt in imminent danger. The fourth estate, a necessary lever of checks and balances, is under systematic assault by citizenry and government alike. In Egypt press freedom has become a punchline to the darkest of jokes.
“Fascism was the major political innovation of the 20th century and the source of much of its pain” once said, incisively, a thinker by the name of Robert Paxton. The paradigm has many goals within its draconian confines but chief among them is a silencing of opposition to further the goals, generally, of a ruling military dictatorship. In Egypt’s case the press, needed to level the political playing field, has become the chief proponent of the dynamic. Rather than shouting against government’s heavy hand it shouts for it. With control firmly in the regime’s hands independent voices are silenced, jailed or, in some cases, killed.
Penultimate success is reached when the populous, at large, become the enforcers of the regime narrative. In this respect the Sisi state is a raging success. The linguistic bullets fired against one article attempting to call a spade a spade is a pinprick in the iceberg that is the silencing of the minority by the majority in Egypt.
So, focus on terrorism, a common tactic of the police state, watch the economy, concern yourself with power outages and traffic if you wish. But the real monster that has befallen the nation eats away at the soul of freedom of speech.
The voices of silences will, eventually, be deafening and only Egypt will pay the price.
“Traitor,’ another reader said.