Politics: Between managing differences and inciting hatred

The term ‘politics’ has many definitions, depending on one’s vision and school of thought. 
From my studies and personal experience, I came to the conclusion that the term politics means the art of managing differences. From this simple definition, we can distinguish between good politics and bad politics.
A good policy, in my opinion, manages the legitimate differences among citizens by mobilizing available human and material resources for the community to achieve its aspirations for progress, security, prosperity and justice.
A bad policy, on the other hand, would harness these resources to serve the interests of a particular social class or intellectual current, deliberately marginalizing the rest of society.
Although I studied politics as a science that objectively analyzes facts and tries as much as possible to discard subjective factors or ideologies, I was never able to segregate politics from ethics. Nor was I able to convince myself – as many others do – that the end justifies the means when it comes to politics. That is why I was always hesitant to directly engage in political life.
I need not remind the readers that I have always believed that Egypt would not be able to tread on the path of progress or renaissance unless it establishes a genuine democratic system that accommodates everyone, including the political Islam current, without marginalization. 
I always believed that the most dangerous thing Egypt could face is to drown in this quagmire of political polarization that foments hatred and violence. That is why I did not hesitate to consider the initiative of Selim al-Awa and perhaps even come up with suggestions for it, or call on the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau to voluntarily end the sit-in.
Yet my last article triggered comments that I admit have bothered me. The comments indicate that the elite are moving towards a dangerous curve, almost losing the ability to distinguish between the right to differ, which is a legitimate and desirable right, and inciting hatred of the other. This is a fatal ailment capable of destroying the most homogenous of societies. 
Here are some of the comments I received:
Under the title of ‘The Group’s Pen’, Sabry al-Baga says our distinguished columnist, who has sensed the fall of the terrorist group forever, is trying to save it with some makeup exam, him being a university professor.
He also says that I have, assumingly in good faith, supported the terrorist of the seventies, meaning Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh in the first round of the presidential elections, advocated Mohamed Morsy, and arranged the Fairmont meeting, in which a number of honest figures were implicated.
He added that the articles I wrote in support of Morsy, again assumingly in good faith, need a psychoanalyst and not a political analyst to decipher, pointing to the articles that he says promote the bad thoughts of Awa, and another article in which he says I put myself in the place of the man I call supreme guide and tell him what to do.
Then he poses the following questions: “What is the difference between what our  esteemed columnist calls supreme guide and Nakhnoukh the thug, with whom the terrorist Brotherhood had cooperated, and who, like the Brotherhood, has followers.”
He asks further: “Would you also put yourself in Nakhnoukh’s place and tell him how to save his gang? Mind you, he says, Nakhnoukh did not use foreign militias, and was never belligerent towards the state. Nor was he sadistic like the Brotherhood that you advise to withdraw tactically to heal its wounds and get ready for the next round, as you put it.”
Then he claims I said there is an extremist trend within the current regime; a claim he says the most demonized enemies of Egypt did not dare claim, hence his coining me as ‘The Group’s Pen’.
My dear reader Mariam al-Masry Mohamed, for whom our differences of opinion never affected my respect, wrote to me saying: “As a reader that appreciates and respects Mr. Nafea, and that has been reading his columns for many years, I noticed that the majority of his readers have turned against him in the past few days. Has he changed? Has he become fair to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has angered the majority of the readers that oppose the group? Did he say today what is contrary to what he has been saying over the years?
“None of that happened. So why did they turn against him? Why did Baga call him ‘The Group’s Pen’ who promotes the bad thoughts of Awa? What is the penalty for that?
It is as if he is not a professor of politics who has been concerned with the issues of Egypt throughout his life. “Why did another reader called Salama say his writings spill venom, and thus advises him to take a leave for two or three years? Why does the reader Hamza call him an invalid?
“Isn’t he an Egyptian who has the right to address the issues of society from his personal point of view?
Have we no tolerance for someone who wants to avoid chaos and internal strife? Are we schizophrenics who say one thing and then the opposite? Have we no principles? Are we blinded by our hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood?”
Fortunately, another sane voice responded to Baga’s extremist and insolent comment. Atef al-Maghraby wrote: “It seems the readers take Nafea as good as his last good deed. If he writes against the Brotherhood and supports the 30 June demonstrations, they would see him as a great and wise columnist. But if he warns of developments that may pull the country into a cycle of violence and counter-violence, and comes up with suggestions for faithful initiatives to the end the crisis, he is accused of sympathizing with the Brotherhood, and dossiers like the Fairmont meeting suddenly appear.
“Those readers represent the state of political negativism that has prevailed since Mohamed Morsy came to power, which marked the start of polarization. Such state does not distinguish between stability and change. It thinks change means backtracking on stability.”
I chose to conclude my article with a message from Ahmed al-Geioushy addressing extremists. He tells them: “Please step aside, at least for a while. For in times of resolving a crisis, there is no place for extremists because it is they who have created it in the first place and thus are part of the problem, not the solution. Extremism cannot contribute in any way to break an impasse. We should give space and time to the wise and moderate to take over. They are the only ones who are able to find solutions. They alone can bring some good and build on it. Would the extremists fathom that, or are they blinded?”
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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