Ikhwanweb :: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website

Tue109 2018

Last update19:14 PM GMT

Back to Homepage
Font Size : 12 point 14 point 16 point 18 point
:: Opinions > Other Opinions
How Mubarak hijacked democracy
I envy Iraqis. Not for the presence of foreign troops in their country. Nor for the relentless bloodletting that claims at least 30 Iraqis a day. No. I envy Iraqis for holding relatively peaceful parliamentary elections despite all of the above. Their elections - with 70 percent turnout - won the much-deserved praise of international observers. In Egypt, supposedly fre
Thursday, December 22,2005 00:00
by Mona Eltahawy, International Herald Tribune

I envy Iraqis. Not for the presence of foreign troops in their country. Nor for the relentless bloodletting that claims at least 30 Iraqis a day.
 
No. I envy Iraqis for holding relatively peaceful parliamentary elections despite all of the above. Their elections - with 70 percent turnout - won the much-deserved praise of international observers.
 
In Egypt, supposedly free of all of the above, our recent parliamentary elections with their paltry 25 percent turnout would have been roundly condemned by international observers had they been allowed to come and see how the state hijacked democracy.
 
Little wonder our government flatly refused to allow international monitoring of the polls. Who would want the world to see the riot police firing tear gas and pointing rifles full of rubber-coated bullets at Egyptians who had the temerity to try to vote?
 
Watching those scenes from the bloodiest, third and last round of the elections it was impossible not to wonder whether the Egyptian government had declared war on its people.
 
Instead of foreign troops, we live under the occupation of President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which was determined to maintain its two-thirds majority in Parliament.
 
Instead of the terrorism of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Egyptians were terrorized by NDP thugs, who stood in front of some polling stations brandishing swords and machetes.
 
"The government spent millions of pounds on advertising campaigns to persuade Egyptians to get out and vote," said Judge Hisham el-Bastaweesy at an election discussion at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. "But it spent millions more to prevent those who heeded the campaigns from voting."
 
To what end?
 
Because a gamble by the Egyptian government threatened to backfire. For the first time in decades, it allowed the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to campaign openly and contest the elections.
 
As expected, the movement’s disciplined supporters turned out in their droves to vote. What took the government by surprise were the protest votes that the Brotherhood won from Egyptians who hate the ineffectual and corrupt NDP and its stranglehold on Egyptian politics.
 
For years, the government has been happy to keep the state and the Muslim Brotherhood as the two main poles of political life in Egypt. Its clampdown on political life has ensured that few other alternatives exist.
 
There was no clearer proof of this than the politically motivated trial and detention of the liberal politician Ayman Nour. Nour came second in Egypt’s first contested presidential elections in September but lost the parliamentary seat he’s held for 10 years to a former state security official.
 
Nour, a diabetic, was taken on Saturday to a prison hospital after his health deteriorated. He had started a hunger strike to protest his detention.
 
In letting the Muslim Brotherhood genie out of the bottle, Mubarak pulled a fast one on us all.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood comprise the largest opposition bloc with 88 seats, but they cannot field a presidential candidate because the Egyptian constitution bars the formation of religious parties.
 
Legitimate opposition parties do not have the required number of seats to field their own candidates. Thus the rumored accession of Mubarak’s son Gamal as the NDP candidate is clear.
 
At the same time, Mubarak can say to the West: "You see what happens when I open up? It’s me or the Islamists." Don’t believe him. Less than 25 percent of eligible voters turned out, a clear sign that Egyptians want neither the government nor the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Further, we cannot trust the results of the elections. Judges who supervised the voting, and independent monitoring groups, have issued scathing reports describing massive violations, including widespread buying and rigging of votes.
 
It is impossible to talk about reform in the Arab world without considering external pressure. Publicly, most Egyptians will refuse to consider the usefulness of U.S. pressure for reform but privately they will acknowledge its necessity.
 
Consider what happened in the town of Balteem. The first death of the elections took place there at the start of the third round. But the run-off a few days later was much calmer. The police and thugs did not beat anyone, and people were able to enter polling booths and vote, because a senior British diplomat was there.
 
It is a shame that the state respects Egyptians only when a foreign diplomat is around. But if that’s what it takes to ensure the safety of Egyptians who want to vote, then so be it.
 
 
(Mona Eltahawy is a columnist for the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.)
  
 

Related Topics

The blogger scene in Egypt 
Mona Naggar, Qantara.de - Cairo, Egypt
Bloggers rocking Mubarak’s boat
DANIEL WILLIAMS, WPost
Internet Freedom in the Middle East: Challenges for U.S. Policy
Andrew Exum, Washington Institute for Near East Policy , US
Brotherhood of The Blog
Marc Lynch, Guardian - London, UK

Related topics:

The ’Crime’ Of Blogging In Egypt
The Washington Post
The blogger and the pharaoh
NYT, US

Bloggers being watched in the Middle East.
ANNA JOHNSON, Associated Press - Cairo, Egypt

Bloggers in Mideast transforming dialogue but face clampdowns by authorities
A.P - Cairo, Egypt

More videos of Egyptian police brutality
Hossam el-Hamalawy, 3arabawy - Cairo, Egypt
Boulaq torturers to be tried 9 January
Hossam el-Hamalawy, 3arabawy - Cairo, Egypt
Partial Blacklist of Egyptian Police Officers Accused of Torture
Ikhwanweb, London-UK
Torture victim receives 3 months in prison for “resisting authorities”!
Ikhwanweb, London-UK
An interview with Ayman Al Zawahri’s uncle
Ikhwanweb, London-UK
Egyptian police torture woman detainee (Videos)
Ikhwanweb, London-UK
MB blogs: A Step Towards More Freedom of Expression
Ikhwanweb, London-UK
Blogs Against Military Rulers
Ikhwanweb, London-UK
MB blogs: A Step Towards More Freedom of Expression
Ikhwanweb, London-UK
Marking 4th Anniversary of Torturing State Security Detainee No.25
Ikhwanweb, London-UK


Posted in Other Opinions  
Add Comment Send to Friend Print
Related Articles