Amid the several political changes Egypt is caught in at the moment, calls for a collective action against the rule of Morsy are escalating. There seems to be a split about the upcoming demonstration on 24 August between a pro-Morsy lobby that sees the demonstrations as a treacherous and unlawful act, and another lobby that believes in the necessity of organising such an event to protest the Muslim Brotherhood’s ever-growing control over state and society. Between the two extremes, 24 August needs to be reconsidered and thought of in light of Egypt’s overarching interest.
In order for 24 August to serve a public interest it needs first to be depolarised and thought of as an act not thrown back and forth between pro-Brotherhood and anti-Brotherhood poles. To accomplish this, the protest should be viewed as independent from those who called for it as an act against Morsy and the Brotherhood, and those who are working on aborting it as an act called for by people who are not trustworthy. In other words, those who decide to take to the streets on that day should be clear that their presence is not answering the call of specific individuals, but rather to protest a political reality to which they do not relate.
Second, the nature and significance of the protest should be rethought as well. Clear statements by participating political forces must be made condemning all acts of violence against public or private property on that day. Calls to attack Muslim Brotherhood offices must be renounced by all those who plan to participate, whether individuals or political entities. The demonstration to take place should not be an act of offense, but rather an exercise of people’s legal right to peaceful protest.
The significance of the demonstration must be reconsidered as well. Perceiving 24 August as a demonstration that aims for the downfall of Morsy’s rule is indeed a bad idea. Neither the political context nor the mobilising capacity would allow for such a target to be realised. Therefore, the purpose of the demonstration should be re-formulated towards creating a cohesive block of opposition forces willing to coordinate efforts and establish basis for a healthy democratic environment where the opposition is active. Another important aim should be the clear message sent to the government conveying the fact that there is a resistance bloc capable of mass mobilisation and plans to hold the government accountable through the street in the absence of elected councils.
Third, the final target of the event should be revisited as well. In the current political context, forces of opposition must focus on the forthcoming parliamentary elections. If a cohesive bloc is created as a result of mutual cooperation between forces of opposition, it must be utilised for the purposes of electoral coalitions through cross-party lists. The demonstration on 24 August could be used as a launching point for such a necessary effort.
It is true that the very first calls for a demonstration on 24 August came from people who are as far as one can be from the revolution, but it is also true that in Egypt’s new political landscape, such an event is necessary. If participating political forces can redefine the day and use it for their interest, it could be of major significance to Egypt’s transition to democracy.