Following are excerpts from an interview with US-based Egyptian scholar Mamoun Fandy, which aired on ANB TV on July 4, 2011:
Mamoun Fandy: This revolution was not made in Tahrir Square, or in Cairo in general, as is commonly believed. The first martyrs of the revolution – in fact, most of the martyrs – were from the cities of Suez and Alexandria. If not for the steadfastness of the people of Suez, the people at Tahrir Square would not have persevered. The Central Security Forces and Mubarak's regime were defeated in Suez. They were first defeated in Suez and Alexandria.
Interviewer: The same happened in Tunisia.
Mamoun Fandy: Yes. Bouazizi was not from the capital Tunis, but in Sidi Bouzid. It is the periphery that is generating such spectacles, not the capitals. With all due respect, Cairo is a failing city, by any standard. Its architecture is not fit to be called "the architecture of freedom." And its streets cannot be labeled "the streets of freedom." This is the architecture of oppression, which will only generate a new kind of dictatorship. We must open up our horizons, and see the entire country, from north to south. Reducing the country to a single city reflects the notion of a "hydraulic society," which is controlled by dams. Wherever there is a dam, you control the water, and Cairo has become the center of political and cultural dams.
This is the basic notion of Eastern tyranny, as critiqued by Marx and as existed in Asian regimes – the "Asiatic mode of production." Present-day Cairo remains, to a great extent, the Cairo of Mameluke times. Mubarak's era was the era of the neo-Mamelukes. It was not an era of enlightenment. It was an era of the neo-Mamelukes.
When the Egyptians cried: "The people want to change the regime," they did not mean the specific regime, but the system as a whole – to change the system of values ruling Egyptian society, transforming it into a society that rewards capabilities, from a traditional to a modern society, from what happened on February 2 – the so-called "Battle of the Camel," when [Mubarak supporters] stormed Tahrir Square on camels and donkeys, and a battle ensued between the camel and Facebook…
The Egyptian must choose which path they want to take – whether to take the path of the camel, and return to the world of the camels, or whether to embark on the train of global modernism, and to become part of the world of Facebook. This is not a symbolic thing. It was the reality in Tahrir Square – a confrontation between the Facebook youth, and people who ride camels and try to establish a bullying state once again.
If you take a look at the political map in Egypt today, you will see that many of those camel riders try to present themselves as having access to the Internet, and as being Facebook users. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamists, and the Salafis belong to the world of camels. I have no doubt whatsoever about this.
Interviewer: You are convinced of this?
Mamoun Fandy: Let me tell you something. Some things are indisputable. When you enter the modern Western world as an immigrant, you must ask yourself whether you will practice polygamy. If the answer is "yes," you cannot be an immigrant in this modern world. In my view, anyone who practices polygamy – I'm not talking about polygamy as a notion, but about those who actually practice it… As a notion, polygamy had its proper time, place, and circumstances. But anybody who practices polygamy in the 21st century cannot be considered democratic, under any guise.
Anyone who believes in a religious state and in the existence of a "super-Muslim," or in other words, believes that his Islam is better than your Islam, and that therefore, he alone has the fax number of God, and God asks him to approve whether you are a good Muslim or not… Such a person feels that he is superior to others.
The Americans are the most stupid to have dealt with the Middle East issue.
Interviewer: That is an important statement.
Mamoun Fandy: There are two reasons for this. They are the ones who are leading it all.
Interviewer: They are the ones who are leading it all.
Mamoun Fandy: Right. For example, they disposed of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Then, they handed it over to Iran, instead of to their friends. So if they ended up handing the Egyptian revolution over to the Muslim Brotherhood, it would not be something unheard of. They always give the prize to their enemies, rather than to their friends. This is due to deep ignorance of the nature of this region. I believe that the main reason…
As someone who has lived for many years in the US, I think that the US aid constituted one of the main reasons for the ruin of Egypt. US aid to Egypt since the days of Sadat has reached 50 billion dollars. If you consider it in dollar value, it is equivalent to the 20 billion dollars allocated by the Marshall Plan for the recovery of Europe after World War II.
How come the same amount of money that was used to rebuild Europe, and to built several modern countries – not just one – has gone into a black hole in Egypt, down deep wells – or rather, deep pockets – and has not made any impact on Egyptian society, and has not transformed it from a backward, ignorant society to a modern one?
Where did this money go? It was given as a kind of bribery to the "yes men" who followed Washington's policies without hesitation. The US aid did not contribute in any meaningful way to Egyptian society. It helped to create a dictatorial regime, which led Egyptian society to accept the policies of the US government. This is abhorrent to the average Egyptian, and is equally abhorrent to the average American, who believes that his money should go to help the poor and the needy, to improve education and so on. I hope that the Americans stop giving any aid to Egypt.