With great relief and little wrangling, the abducted security personnel in Sinai were released this week. The president, political parties, and military all celebrated their peaceful transfer through the intervention of tribal chiefs in the area. No negotiation, no bloodshed – all celebrated a successful resolution.
Successful, that is, with two lingering uncertainties: No justice, no information. Officials declared the identities of the kidnappers are known but will not be released until a more appropriate time. And of the details in the media leading up to the release, officials admitted they used misinformation in order to confuse the criminals.
All this is fair enough, God. Thanks are to you for their release, accomplished through men and their necessary wiles. But amid the many accusations and conspiracies which surround Sinai, God, Egyptians long for clarity in all public affairs.
Are the president’s Islamist allies linked with extremists in the Sinai? Did they engineer the kidnapping and subsequent release to boost the president’s popularity or embarrass the army? Did the military and intelligence apparatus play the same role in order to create a crisis for the president and demonstrate their own indispensability? Are the two in cahoots to forge a new reality in the Sinai away from the old heavy hand of the police state and tribal manipulations? Or, was it just a random act of disaffected individuals? All these questions circulate.
They are a product of Egypt’s polarization and instability, God. Ease these issues and perhaps clarity can come.
But both now and then, God, give Egypt a new culture of transparency. Make public officials accountable to the people. Secure the release of information. Protect national security and the public order, but keep the limitations of freedom to the absolute minimum.
A little while ago a draft law for freedom of information was prepared, meeting with contradictory responses. Some hailed it as a new dawn for society; others claimed it couched draconian measures in liberal pronouncements.
God, deal with the text of any new law and the hearts of those who will implement it. May Egyptians know what goes on behind the scenes of their government, and may these scenes become clean and transparent.
God, deal with the Sinai in justice and development. Bring criminals to trial, extremists to repentance, and Bedouins to citizenship. May those responsible for the kidnapping be prosecuted openly, but may the region not suffer their crimes. Rather, integrate Egypt’s peoples together, and may the prosperity of your blessing be shared by all.
As you released the abducted from captivity, God, release Egypt from its captivity of unknowing. Perhaps you are enveloped in this cloud by nature of your being, but free the people and nation from the bonds of its yoke.
May they know both themselves and their maker. Release them, and in this knowledge make them free.