In recent days, there has been an increasing number of Egyptians who are opposed to Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt. They have been taking to the streets out of the desire to create a true democracy in Egypt and prevent the creation of an Islamic theocracy that will be a bitter enemy of Israel. They support women’s rights, minority rights, and human rights generally speaking. They have been chanting, “Down, down Morsi, down down the regime that killed and tortured us,” in a reference to the 21 soccer fans of Port Said who were sentenced to death by the Egyptian government. These liberal activists have been paying for their beliefs and hopes with their lives, with over 50 Egyptians being killed recently while protesting against Morsi’s government.
One of the many groups in Egypt that is opposed to Muslim Brotherhood rule is the “No to Compulsory Military Service Movement,” a pacifist group led by a former prisoner of conscience named Maikel Nabil Sanad. While in Israel, he declared, “I’m here for two main reasons. First to say that we, the peace community and peace activists in Egypt, exist. I represent a peace movement active in Egypt for 4 years now, against war and for peace with each country, including Israel… The second purpose of my visit is to highlight how the situations in Israel, Egypt, Palestine and others are linked together. The anti-Israel propaganda and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been a huge obstacle to democracy in Egypt. My friends and I understood that we would not achieve democracy without peace.” Maikel views dictatorships, whether they be religious or a military dictatorship, as the biggest threat to human rights in Egypt.
Emad El Dafrawi, another member of the “No to Compulsory Military Service Movement,” has asserted, “If there was no conflict and no wars between Egypt and Israel, I believe that we would have been closer to democracy. This is an issue that they always use to try to distract people’s attention from the internal issues or real issues that affect them. [Egyptians] are not really aware of how much, with the Israel issue, they’re really manipulated and they’re really lied to. Normal Egyptians don’t hate Jews or Israelis. And if they do it is because of propaganda of the media, because they were taught that Israel…shouldn’t exist. My peaceful views aren’t representative of the youth, because no one can represent all the youth of Egypt. But they are representative of the people who want to live in peace, who want development, who are sick of the hate climate, the propaganda and the racism.”
Yet aside from the members of the “No to Compulsory Military Service Movement,” there are other members of the Egyptian opposition who support peaceful coexistence with Israel. Another peace activist named Ahmed Meligy, who served time in prison for his beliefs, asserted at the beginning of this latest round of protests, “I really wish that Morsi and his regime would understand why we activists will never be silenced no matter what they do to us.”
By Rachel Avraham