Riots and politics: A mutual salvation?

The scenes of violence and street fighting between the police and the Ahli Football Club fan group Ultras Ahlawy outside Cairo Stadium undoubtedly brings into focus the power of riots as a vital tool to continue the revolution and maintain the absence of stability, which is a key inspiration of the revolution.

Despite the panic it has caused, this state of instability that Egypt has been experiencing over the past few months, including riots, banditry, attacks on facilities and the general lawlessness, is the only way to establish political emancipation from the oppressive state of emergency, which was desperately maintained by the autocratic regimes of the past decades.

At its onset, the revolution challenged the police force in a decisive manner and successfully amputated its arms, paralyzing its ability to pursue its main job of managing the relationship between different social classes and religious communities, in other words, between everyone and everyone else.

Yet, the prevailing security mentality stands in the way of any political or social negotiations between various sectors of society and prevents the growth of political movements and corresponding debates with the social forces they represent. This security apparatus also aborts any organizational attempts and deprives everyone of all chances of representation by keeping the vast majority of Egyptians out of any reasonable civil negotiation process, in other words, maintaining a stable state of emergency.

The revolution started with the aim of defeating the security apparatus’ ability to maintain this stable state of emergency. In spite of the peacefulness of the revolution when compared to the magnitude of social contradictions, and in spite of successive setbacks to the revolutionary forces, the lack of security and riots of every type have continued uninterrupted. The rioters are reclaiming politics from the tyrants and won't compromise themselves.

Since it took office, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) attempted to bring an end to the continuous rioting, beginning with a law that criminalizes strikes and sit-ins and ending with the cabinet’s statement on 7 September, in which it announced the amendment of the Emergency Law, expanding the powers by which the authorities might face the revolutionary chaos, incitement and rioting.

There is no doubt that there have been repeated attempts to form a possible alliance between the SCAF and the Islamist movements, headed by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), in the face of these continuous riots. However, this supposed alliance has failed to control an uncontrollable situation.

Moreover, there is serious doubt regarding the power of Islamist movements, in terms of rallying crowds, organized action and political decisiveness, to control a society full of contradictions; a society which has become almost impossible to control by oppression.

By this, I am not talking about the events in Tahrir Square, but rather about the state of instability and continuous rioting in every institution and neighborhood, as well as the continuous friction between police and angry rallies, including the Ultras and thugs. I am also talking about the strikes that have not stopped, despite numerous threats.

Hence, there is a dire need to create a political atmosphere capable of dealing more flexibly with the chaotic situation, as well as creating negotiation channels and political possibilities to deal with the contradictions and the impasse.

The ruling authorities, as well as some tyrannical powers, such as the remnants of the former regime, are undoubtedly attempting to counteract the development of such a political atmosphere or its recognition as a legitimate atmosphere for action and negotiation. The upcoming elections may very well be an attempt to kill and bury the revolution.

The question now is whether the next parliament will produce a legitimate government capable of controlling the situation? Have the armed forces, which enjoy a quasi-revolutionary legitimacy and the legitimacy to rule the country following the March referendum, succeeded in controlling the situation?

The current situation is undoubtedly the result of the inherited tyranny and state of emergency, as well as the magnitude of social contradictions, together with the collapse of the police force’s power and legitimacy. Creating a political atmosphere in which negotiation can thrive is the only reasonable choice, despite the resistance from the SCAF and other tyrannical forces and the continued insistence on disciplinary action. Creating a political atmosphere should be the number one priority on the agendas of democratic movements, because it’s the only plausible revolutionary path to walk along.

These movements must utilize all of their political abilities to prepare for the upcoming elections in order to win the long and continuous political battle ahead. They must also move to counteract the security authority’s disciplinary actions, legitimize politics, act against the logic of emergency laws and lead the way to a democratic transition.

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