Wrote :Hassan Saber
Renowned leftist author Sonallah Ibrahim said on Monday that January's revolt of 2011 is a revolutionary uprising that is yet to continue.
"Pressure should be practiced for the revolution to continue, we must exercise a strategy of patience, accept winning one round and losing another, as we cannot achieve it all overnight."
The award-winning novelist said that the revolution has achieved a great advantage which is breaking the barrier of fear. Acquiring a wide degree of freedom of expression, he noted that Egypt overcame a long cultural heritage of fear of authority.
In an interview with Aswat Masriya, he said that there is no reason for frustration for the hindered revolution, "we must stick to its basic objectives; the ones which the people have chanted for on January 25… we have to use all plausible means to resist authority and that does not necessarily mean we want to thwart it."
Ibrahim who belongs to the left wing political party (Socialist Popular Alliance Party) said that he supports the National Salvation Front with some reservations on some of its representatives, he hopes for a better representation of the revolutionary youth.
In an unprecedented move, Ibrahim had refused to accept a prestigious literary award from the ministry of culture in the era of the ousted President Hosni Mubarak's in 2003; he said that the Egyptian government does not have enough credibility to grant such an award.
Ibrahim had directed sharp criticism to Mubrak's regime saying that "we no longer have theatre, cinema or scientific research, we only have festivals, conventions and a box filled with lies, we no longer have an industry, agriculture, health or justice... corruption is rampant, whoever objects is subjected to humiliation and torture, in light of this reality, a writer cannot shut his eyes or relinquish his responsibility."
He told Aswat Masriya that the box filled with lies - referring to television - has a new owner but the lies continue. The upside is that some of the media workers are now less afraid, they fight battles for freedom of expression. He added that "it is beautiful that most of those fighters are women."
He said that before January 25 he used to think that any regime different from Mubarak's would be better, even if the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.
Now he believes that the situation is different, "we experienced the military rule and the Brotherhood's, which is not any different from Mubarak's."
He added that the Brotherhood has the same economic thought as Mubarak, "more backward though, it is not different from the strategy of running a supermarket, they offer no practical solutions."
He said, "What happened after the revolution is that all what is going on in our society came to the surface. We knew little about the Salafis (ultraconservatives), now their perceptions about the form of life they wish for is clear to all of us... which is positive as the conflict between the forces of backwardness and forces of progress is out in the open."
Regarding his position from the newly-adopted constitution, he said that "if a historian such as (Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti) noted down our current history, he would have wrote that a revolution happened in 2011, it resulted in a funny farce which brought a constituent assembly and a new constitution," he added that there is an opportunity to overthrow the constitution in the same manner that Mubarak was overthrown.
Ibrahim added that the West wants a 'tamed Islamic regime', political Islam is being employed to achieve the interests of the West, they accept that, especially that the economic structure of the Brotherhood is similar to the capitalist vision of Wall-Street.
He stressed that the presence of the Islamic wing in authority gives it a change to deal with different ideologies and learn the real needs of society, hence develop their own philosophy.
"I still believe in their ability to develop, though the actions of the Islamists reflect the exact opposite," he commented on political Islamists who finally obtained power.
On the approach of President Mohamed Mursi, he said that the language which carries his ideas is significant; "the language he uses is not relevant to our era, how can a president address his people saying 'my family and tribe' in the year 2012?" that reflects a vision that belongs to the past, to tribal times of pre-Islam.
Ibrahim believes that "the presence of a 'majority' which controls everything is an unhealthy sign, we know nothing about their development program, we would have supported it, but the so-called 'renaissance' program is only words, no talk for instance about setting a minimum or maximum wage."
"Social justice – a demand of the revolution - is not achieved, on the contrary, I belong to the middle class and I cannot afford a decent standard of living with the constant hike in prices."
Ibrahim said that there is a film project for his novel 'Sharaf' - honor -, yet it is on hold until they can afford the required budget to produce it. The novel exposes prison-life and the 'mafia' of multi-national pharmaceutical companies.
*Sonallah Ibrahim was born in 1937 in Cairo. He was imprisoned for political reasons in the 1960s. Ibrahim studied law and drama at Cairo University before becoming a journalist in 1956.
Ibrahim was a visiting professor of contemporary Arabic literature at the University of California at Berkeley and at the University of Bordeaux in France.
He also oversees the publishing house 'New Culture' that was founded by his late friend and journalist Mohamed Yusuf al-Gindi.
Many of his novels were translated to different languages, among them 'Zaat' and 'al-Lagna' which renders of a Kafkaesque style.
Ibrahim usually sets his characters’ lives against historic events, his most famous novel 'Americanly' presents a sharp critique of the American manipulation of the Middle East.