This translation of a column by Belal Fadl in El Shorouk newspaper is courtesy the professional translation service Industry Arabic.
Chat with a Modern
Sir Major General --
rather, sir Lieutenant General -- that is, sir General of the Army sir! 
You majestic pillar of strength, you Colonel of distinction, Our Father, who
art in all sorts of investigations and secret services… you really don’t
realize what you’ve done to the country, do you?
To make a long story short -- and just in case you forgot,
in your ecstasy over what you imagine to be a landslide victory -- there once was a failing gang who came
into power . They betrayed their promises, allied themselves with you, and I
thought they would buy your satisfaction by leaving your special privileges
just the way they are. This gang bit off more than they could chew, and acted
like a man who hasn’t seen meat in a year - they took one look at power, and
made a fool of themselves. So of course, they failed spectacularly. They went
down in flames and the people rose up against them, demanding that the gang
leave and early presidential elections be held, so they could choose someone
more respectable and appoint him as president instead. But of course, you’ve
conveniently forgotten the part about those early elections, and instead
imposed a roadmap that guarantees your immediate control of the country. And
you’ve brilliantly taken advantage of the Brotherhood’s appalling foolishness -
all of it. First they offered you their necks - and they didn’t wake up until
it was too late; meanwhile, you’re reaping the benefits of their crimes: their
loathsome sectarian discourse; allowing armed men in their sit-ins; shouting words that they can't back up; and depending on people like Safwat Hegazi
and Essam Abdel Maged, men who would cause civilization to sink entirely.
So after you won people over and they came out in the
millions to remove this gang from power, instead of finishing up right and keeping
your eye on the prize for the first time in your life… you decided to give this
group CPR, so they could play the role of the oppressed, and gather their
scattered members underground, just like in 1954 and 1965. And thanks to your
politics, you’ll find that people will sympathize with them once again -- not
out of love, but out of hatred, after their behinds are handed over to your men in
the security headquarters, to be electrocuted once again.
Just as greed was the Brotherhood’s downfall, believe me -
your policies will be your undoing. Your desire to take everything will lead
you to lose everything. We will discover that an iron fist rules over this
generation of revolutionaries, and they have turned a blind eye to it because
they want to see where it will lead. Trust me, believe me, it’s not a
misunderstanding; they are testing what you do. See how you decided to ruin
that man with pure intentions, a stutter, and a clear stance  -- the one
who agreed to work with you in hopes that you might have learned a lesson from
those who came before you? And when he refused to do what you wanted, you
mistreated him, forcing him to follow you. Even al-Azhar, which has
consistently spoken about respect for you -- why did you circumvent it, cast it
aside, and force it to issue a statement saying you didn’t consult their opinion
on the massacre you committed… and as for the respectable people who agreed to
work with you in government, you overpowered them, bullying them until they had
second thoughts before taking a respectable position, and those thoughts
multiplied a thousand times over. And of course, in the midst of all this, you
are quite pleased with the media, working in your service, without thinking of
the price society might pay for embracing hatred, violence, and anger, for
vilifying others and accusing them of treason, for its lust for revenge.
Of course, you must feel quite safe sitting in the middle of
your security, your servants, and your entourage, protecting yourselves and
your children’s futures. Each of your men is protecting himself and his
children’s futures; he does it in his own way, and with whatever it takes. In
the end, it will be the average people who pay the price, the honorable
citizens. Or to be more accurate: it will be the people you boast about when
they join your ranks, and who you call fools as soon as they are against you.
Because to you, they’re just numbers - just like to its leaders, the members of
the Muslim Brotherhood are just numbers of martyrs and victims. Unfortunately,
in the end it will be the little man -- the original inhabitant of Egypt -- who pays the price, led by the
officers and the army recruits. And on the day he is killed, they’ll come to
have their photos taken at his funeral. They’ll use his blood to quash and
suppress others, and to cover up your political failure. And in the end,
unfortunately, no one will care about him other than his family and loved ones.
I can’t blame you if you don’t understand what you’ve done
to this country - the consequences get more and more dire as you march on with
the same policies. There are many people who have read countless books, and who
have taken respectable positions their whole lives. We figured they were savvy
intellectuals… but the most important men and women keep on applauding you. And
making excuses for you, just as the generations of intellectuals before them
applauded and justified the actions of those before you, and those before them.
It must be said that the generations who have applauded before were much more
cultured and talented… but applause hasn’t prevented us from stupidity, nor
protected us from defeat, nor stopped the wheel of regression from spinning
onward. If you’re pleased that the people whose phones you used to tap in the
past have now opened up a hotline between you and them, you won’t be able to enjoy
it for long, because this land is teeming with people, and even if they swallow
bullshit when forced or tricked, you eventually discover that no people can
live off bullshit. Because of this, you’ll be faced with it all again, until you or
those after you have tamed them - or until those who come after them defeat
you, and get this country its rights. It will all continue, again and again,
until a majority of the people discover that we can be more pure and more
beautiful without those who squander our freedoms and dignity, our principles
and our humanity.
Of course, you don’t realize that while you’ve solved one
problem, you’ve created more problems in its place. These problems are just
beginning to take shape, problems that nourish injustice, bitterness, and vile
hatred, problems that will blow up in all of our faces one of these days, and
without warning. I hope it disturbs you and you alone - I’ve had it in for you.
You’ve opened the gates of hell, thinking you wouldn’t burn -- because after
all, hell’s flames don’t sear the devils who live there. But you don’t
understand that once hell’s gates are opened on earth, the destiny of hell’s guardians
is to burn -- no matter how much they think they are protected, or
secure, or seated on an eternal air conditioner.
Finally, as our good friend Ibn Arous  said: “It is
inevitable that on a given day, grievances will be redressed.” Many
people thought that this day had arrived, but it turns out that it's still on
its way. We will work for it, and we just might see it -- us, or those who come
after us, or those who come after them. In the end, this day will come, because
Egypt isn't going anywhere -- and Egypt is the only one among us that is everlasting.
1. General Abdel Fattah
2. The Muslim Brotherhood.
3. Mohamed ElBaradei.
4. Ibn ‘Arous is an Egyptian
poet, though whether he was a real person or a fictional character is debated.
The verse continues: “White on all the oppressed / Black on all the