June 30 looms, and Egypt’s political players are getting ready. The bulk of opposition parties have signed on to a grassroots campaign to call for early presidential elections. Named ‘Rebel’, they have collected millions of signatures, seek a total of fifteen-plus, and plan a massive rally at the presidential palace on the anniversary of Morsi’s ascent to the presidency.
Islamists are dismissive, and some are defiant. The latter are calling for preemptive sit-ins at the palace two days earlier, and counter demonstrations the day of throughout the country. Some accuse the opposition of seeking violence to pin upon Islamists; others advocate any-means-necessary to protect the president’s legitimacy. The Muslim Brotherhood has not yet decided a course of action, but like all Islamists they decry the Rebel campaign as outside the law with no true bearing on constitutionally approved political practice.
The question of violence is a cloud upon the day. Each side accuses the other as the rhetoric escalates. Some warn of a civil war or a sectarian conflict, but is this a possible reality beyond the now normal rock-throwing clashes? Even if the stage is set for a major street battle, will it really escalate into war?
But violence may well occur, as it has already at an ongoing sit-in at the Ministry of Culture where liberal artists and intellectuals call for the dismissal of the newly appointed minister. In an effort to dismiss them, a party of Islamists protested, clashed, and was separated by police.
Every angle is plausible, God. The opposition could seek violence to discredit the Islamists, police, and government. The Islamists could seek violence to discredit a popular campaign. Unknown or old regime elements could seek violence to further the chaotic and unstable state of the country. And some might simply be rumoring violence to keep down the numbers.
The first hope is simple, God: Prevent the occurrence of violence. Bring Egypt’s political actors to consensus through dialogue, negotiation, shared values, and love of country. Let all in demonstrations and counter-demonstrations express their demands and pressure accordingly.
But help each to esteem their opponent as Egyptian, however different in mindset. If their lines meet on the 30th, give them fruitful exchange and winsome discussion. But God, so much worse is feared, and the hope feels like a pipe dream.
Surely there are some who desire violence, or in a lesser evil, play with the idea for political ends. God, when will the day of reckoning come for this sort? Did it already come through the revolution, and now is on its last legs? Or is it yet to come for some in power and some illegitimately seeking it? May it come soon, God, but may you spare Egypt the collateral damage.
But that perhaps is a prayer to come, God, and perhaps June 30 will begin the process. But for now, God, give wisdom to citizen and politician alike in positioning. Should they aid the campaign, resist it, or ignore it altogether? In any and all choices, may decisions be sincere and not calculating, based on principle and not manipulation.
There is a counterpart to the Rebel campaign, God. The Impartiality campaign also claims millions of signatures in support of President Morsi. Surely the vast majority of signatories on both sides are of pure motivation; may their will – however contradictory – be achieved, somehow.
God, solve the somehow. It has been two years since the revolution and the somehow remains elusive. Perhaps June 30 factors into your best will, perhaps not. But position Egypt on the path to peace, prosperity, and consensus. It is forever a path, and destination coordinates are debated. But as Egypt veers, correct her.
In this, may her people have the greatest share.