The police state has returned to Egypt - and the regime hardly differentiates between terrorists and legal political opposition anymore. Egyptians will not stand for this forever, says DW's Naser Schruf.
It's sad but true: even when they are totally legitimate, large-scale protests against the ruling regime damage a country's economy and its social peace. But in the long run, regimes whose power is founded on repression and arbitrariness hurt a country even more. Egypt is a prime example.
Today, the Egyptian revolution of January 25, 2011, seems to be miles away from its goals. Individual freedoms, freedom of the press and of expression, social justice, fighting corruption, a life in dignity for everyone - these goals earned the brave members of the protest movement a lot of respect and support the world over.
But today there's nothing left of this enthusiasm in Egypt. On the contrary: resignation, anger and dissatisfaction reign, especially among the young generation. After nearly four years of chaos, battles for power and regime changes, they hardly have enough hope left to dream of a modern - and better - Egypt.
Terror doesn't justify human rights violations
But when Egypt's authoritarian acting leadership under former Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi feels challenged by terrorists, it's not just a pretense. It's a real danger, which becomes especially clear looking at the Sinai: the militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has considerable destructive influence there and recently officially joined the terrorist "Islamic State" (IS) that has spread terror and fear across large areas of Iraq and Syria.
One has to see it clearly: these jihadis don't fight in Egypt because of a lack of freedom or human rights - they only want to create their own reign of terror. When Egypt's current government fights them and other jihadi groups, even with military means, it deserves all the international support it can get.
But this fight does not justify the systematic restriction of human rights, freedom of expression and the right to protest. Regardless of whether it is jihadis, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, left or liberal forces - el-Sissi's government doesn't even make the effort anymore to distinguish between terror and legal opposition. More accurately, it uses the terror to justify his repressive politics in front of all those who are unhappy with el-Sissi's authoritarian leadership style. The international community should look very closely. They cannot let themselves be turned into accomplices in the face of Egypt's need for support. It is clear even now that the recently passed anti-terror law will lead to more radicalization rather than protect the country from terrorists.
Justice serving the regime
Unlike his predecessor Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, el-Sissi doesn't antagonize the country's judiciary. He actually praises its independence. In reality, he can trust that the judges make decisions that suit him when it counts. Politically motivated verdicts against journalists or anti-regime activists fit this bill, just like the acquittal of former leader Hosni Mubarak, who was pushed to power by the military just like el-Sissi.
The Mubarak acquittal seems like the final ending point of the revolution, not just for many Egyptians. It was probably also supposed to show Egyptian security forces and the current political leadership that they don't have to fear being held accountable for human rights violations against the opposition and protesters.
That might work for some time. Egypt has, unfortunately, turned back into being a full-fledged police state. But the miserable economic and human rights situation, shrinking tourism, the dependence of the country on Gulf states' money and, last but not least, the combined solidarity of the Islamic, left and liberal groups will eventually boil over into massive protests.
It's only a matter of time until Egypt's next revolution.