The vast majority of Egyptians today, both men and women, are bombarded with a relentless media barrage that falsely exaggerates the seriousness and competitiveness of the upcoming presidential election and ignores the glaring truths surrounding it. The former defense minister is running for president after the military establishment intervened in politics in July of 2013. The military establishment and security apparatus control both the government and the economic and financial elite. There have been widespread violations of rights and freedoms. Regular terrorist activity plagues the country and society, and contributes to the tyrannical imposition of one opinion, one voice, one position, and one presidential candidate – the savior – through the binary, “you’re either with us, or against us.” The poor economic, social, and security situation has facilitated the trade of rights and freedom for bread and security. The Presidential Elections Committee has immunity. The truth is that the upcoming election lacks the seriousness that it might have enjoyed if the candidates had all been given a fair chance and if the state and its institutions were not biased towards one of them. It lacks the competitiveness that the presence of legal justice and fair process would have guaranteed it, and that might have led to the opening of the political arena and the media to pluralism, and to an election whose results were not already clear.

This media barrage has gone on for months, and has passed through a variety of stages. The January 2011 revolution was demonized. Anyone demanding the democracy and social justice promised by the revolution, and thwarted by the interference of the military in politics and the actions of the post July 3rd government, was branded a traitor. The violations of human rights and freedoms during the dispersal of the sit-ins and marches were papered over. The victims who lost their lives or were herded into prisons and detention centers were forgotten. The violations against them were justified as the cost of the “war on terror,” and those who committed them were celebrated as heroes. Oppressive legislation in laws and the constitution – namely the legalization of military trials for civilians and the passing of the demonstration law – were met with approval. People stood silent as the government used this legislation to oppress calls for democracy. The restrictions on speaking out in support of rights and freedoms were justified by either appearing to listen to the opinion of the opposition but then labeling them as bleating black sheep, or by blindfolding the people to make them forget those restrictions and their victims.

It is also significant that the people behind this presidential campaign media barrage – which seeks to deceive the people into thinking they are aware by convincing them of the election’s seriousness and competitiveness – are essentially the same people who called for and then supported the demonization of the January 2011 revolution, the departure from democracy, and the violations of rights and freedoms over the last few months. They are the same names, pens, and faces who were employed to realize phase one, of turning back the clock and faking awareness. This was the phase of demonization and singling out traitors, of joining the idea of Egypt’s salvation with its only capable institution (the military) and its single savior (the former defense minister). Today they are being employed to realize phase two, of faking awareness. This is the phase in which freedom is traded for “bread and security,” in which the nation and its issues are reduced to one man, and in which rights, justice, and freedom are indefinitely postponed in favor of buzzwords like “requirements of the war on terror” and “necessities of the hour.”

The implications of this barrage on politics and the media are disastrous. Politics is already dead after being bled dry of its seriousness. The media have come to resemble monstrous, empty windmills, loudly grinding away without any wheat. Just as disastrous is the fact that the discourse of that barrage has been inserted into every level of the Egyptian public debate by serious political writers who had long defended democracy, rights, and freedoms before July 2013, but stopped soon after. Today they call the January revolution an idealistic dream. They accuse some defenders of human rights of being funded from abroad. They call the one presidential candidate the savior of the nation state, and defend the seriousness and competitiveness of the election. They keep quiet about the violations of rights and freedoms and the risks that they present, and about the geography of oppression that pervades the nation state and threatens its social cohesion and the safety of its people. They keep quiet about the current fascist imposition of one voice and one opinion, which could hardly lead to a democratic transition and has yet to be fought with all possible peaceful means. They keep quiet about the need to fight the turning back of the clock and to defend the right of all Egyptians, men and women, to a just civil state, and a stable and progressive society.

Amr Hamzawy joined the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo in 2011, where he continues to serve today. He is a former member of parliament, former member of the National Salvation Front, and founder of the Freedom Egypt Party.