Hisham Qasim to Reuters: No Progress As Long As Mubarak Is in Power. No Reformists in NDP

The Egyptian prominent human rights activist, Hisham Qasim, said that the weak pressure put on Egypt by the US for democracy has left liberals confused between an authoritarian government and the Islamists, while there is no potential for a change any time soon.

He told Reuters that during his meetings with US President George Bush and US high-ranking officials, he did not feel any interest on their part in potential for democracy in Egypt. He added that no progress will be made as long as President Mubarak is in power after spending 26 years in his “fortified” post. 

He added that people like him have been left alone in facing Mubarak’s regime and the support that it receives from the other side of the Atlantic. He then pointed out that the oppression of liberals is opening the door more and more in front of strong Islamic opposition and giving it the chance of gaining more ground.

Qasim is one of the four activists who won the Democracy Award for their national stances in favor of democracy. He received it from President Bush last month and spent almost an hour with him.

Qasim said that seeing the US President uninterested in a way or another in what is politically happening in Egypt made him sure the program for democracy is definitely over.

He pointed out that Bush is basically concerned with Islamists in Egypt. He affirmed to have told the President that people have now no alternative, as Islamists are working outside mosques while secular political parties are totally forbidden to work.

After mentioning the bad economic conditions as a cause of this Islamist revival, Qasim expressed his worry that Egypt could turn into a religious State by 2010, which is when the next elections will take place.

He then mentioned that the President told him he was annoyed that the US gives Egypt $2 billion a year to keep the country stable and prevent it from becoming a religious State.

Qasim then reported a question from Bush about reformists in NDP, to which he answered that unfortunately there were none. Bush then started to talk about Thailand and the rest of the discussions were about the history of the White House.

Qasim then pointed out that he had similar impressions during his meeting with Dick Cheney’s counselor, John Hannah, who said that he wanted to know how close the US campaign was from achieving democracy in Egypt.

 Qasim then added that when one of his assistants posed a question about what was happening to journalists in Egypt, it emerged that the counselor knew nothing about this issue