ElBaradei and the bloodstained Twitter bird

ElBaradei and the bloodstained Twitter bird
Comment: Egypt's former vice-president must end his silence over the Rabaa massacre.
4 min read
Around 800 people were killed as the pro-Morsi protests were broken up [AFP]

It all started in February 2010, when the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, founded the National Association for Change (NAC).

He optimistically called for a million Egyptians to take to the streets, in support of the dream he promoted on Twitter.

NAC was a loose gathering of Egyptians from various backgrounds and affiliations, particularly young people seeking change in Egypt. In less than seven months, NAC was able to gather around one million signatures on a petition titled Together we will bring change.

Egyptian youths and dissidents from a variety of civil and political forces truly believed in ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. They rallied behind him and preparations began in earnest for the revolution of January 2011.

With the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, their efforts received a priceless boost.

ElBaradei did not take any official posts in the wake of the revolution, and refused to run in the first real presidential election in Egypt. He opted to remain in opposition, using the Al-Dustur Party as a platform for his political stances, and Twitter as a revolutionary platform to enthuse those who were at the time dubbed ElBaradeists.

ElBaradei opposed the ousted President Mohammed Morsi and his Constitutional Declaration in November 2012.

Afterwards, he led the National Salvation Front, created in December 2012. The Front was a coalition of the most prominent Egyptian opposition parties which objected to Mohammed Morsi's decisions.

     Don't feel lonely on the path of truth for the scarcity of its travellers
- Mohamed ElBaradei

The Salvation Front refused to take part in dialogue with Morsi and his team, and insisted on opposing all his decisions. The Front prepared for the Tamarrod ["Rebellion"] campaign which, in the footsteps of ElBaradei's previous campaign for change, gathered signatures on a petition against Muslim Brotherhood rule - using the political and economic conditions at the time to make its case.

Thousands came out on June 30, 2013, against the Muslim Brotherhood. On July 3, then-Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi deposed Morsi, appointing then-President of the Constitutional Court Adly Mansour as interim president.

Mansour appointed ElBaradei as vice president for foreign relations, which was the first and last official political post ElBaradei assumed in Egypt.

ElBaradei served as interim vice president for a month, resigning on the day of the Rabaa massacre to protest the violent dispersal of the protest.

His resignation letter read:

"I had hoped the rise of the people on June 30th could bring the country to back its normal course towards realising the goals of the revolution, which caused me to heed the call of patriotic forces to take part in the rule; however, the course has been deviated from, reaching this state of polarisation and grave division, and the social fabric is threatened as violence breeds violence.

"It has become difficult for me to continue bearing the responsibility for decisions with which I do not agree, and I fear their consequences; I cannot bear the responsibility for single drop of blood before God, before my own conscience or citizens.

"Regretfully, what happened today is only in the interest of advocates of violence, terrorism, and extremist groups. These words of mine will be recalled one day.

"I confide my cause unto Allah."

This is all that ElBaradei had to say, on a day that no resignation or letters could bring back the lives that were taken.

On 10 November 2013, ElBaradei tweeted in Arabic: "Whomever kills a soul unjustly has killed all of humanity: I praise human values and personal responsibility that is not subject to the opinion of the majority. Don't feel lonely on the path of truth for the scarcity of its travellers."

     ElBaradei preferred to keep quiet and distance himself from the events in Egypt by leaving the country

As Twitter imposes a 140 character limit on posts, making them short and out of context at times, and because no one can inspect people's intentions, no one can blame ElBaradei for writing what he believes on social media.

However, who will hold him accountable for his positions during the time in which he held an important political post through which was responsible for the fate of an entire population?

Who will question him about the blood that was spilled in the Rabaa and al-Nahda massacres, two years ago today, when ElBaradei was still vice-president?

ElBaradei preferred to keep quiet and distance himself from the events in Egypt by leaving the country, and leaving many questions unanswered by his blue twitter bird, which he uses according to his whims - and sometimes out of context.

His tweets explain neither his positions nor provide answers to the many questions that require answers from the man who was once dubbed "the conscience of the revolution".

Finally, what makes searching through ElBaradei's tweets a hard task on the soul is the fact that they cover the smallest details of Egyptian political life, from the start of the revolution and the dreams of change to the confusion surrounding the first real elections in Egyptian history - including the period of Islamist rule and the coup and its massacres.

Then ElBaradei's tweets settle in Austria, where he decided to unite with his Twitter bird, and remain in silent peace.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.