- April 28, 2007
- 20 minutes read
Kifaya’s Chairman: Many Injustices In Egypt
Abdul Wahab Al Meseiri: Egyptians Face Injustice, There Are Security Agents In Kifaya
Why has Dr. Abdul Wahab Al Meseiri accepted to take to the street after his long journey with books and writing as a professor of English literature and an expert in the Zionist Jewish history, Al Meseiri think that there is no conflict between being a general coordinator of Kifaya Movement and his intellectual and academic experience, citing Taha Hussein, Al Akkad and Muhammad Husanein Haikal in the modern history who combined the political action and membership in parties before the revolution .
In his interview with fellow TV presenter Magdi Mehanna in the Tuesday’s Dream TV Show” Forbidden”, he confirms that the July Revolution changed this equation when it gradually sidelined political intellectuals; Al Meseiri narrates his taking to the street with “Kifaya ” and its leading figures and how security leaders told him during Tahrir Square demonstration last week that situations are different nowadays.
As a political intellectual, how have turned into working in the public political action?
–There are previous examples in the Egyptian modern history showing that the intellectual was not merely an intellectual but he was a member in a public action; like Taha Hussein who was a member in Al- Wafd, and a part of his educational agenda was a popular agenda; this was also adopted by Al Akkad and Muhammad Husanein Haikal; all these figures were top intellectuals and were at the same time participating in the political action; however, after 1952 revolution, the role of the intellectual was gradually sidelined till intellectuals were totally excluded from the political scene .
But you are a man of thought and writing; what made you head for the political action?
– I have a PhD in English poetry but I spent my life in writing about Zionism and other issues like it; I was preparing myself to be a literary critic, but when I found myself in this strategic environment, I shifted my focus to the historical and political reality; my recent decision to take to the street and move among people and take more steps away from writing and thought, is not a change but is an extension of the intellectual sphere; that is to say, all of us, people, intellectuals and the government, are facing a historical moment; we must extend our hands to take part in saving our homeland.
Does your health allow you to participate in these huge burdens?
– After George Ishak, the ex-general coordinator, nominated me to lead Kifaya Movement, we established an organizational structure in which the general coordinator becomes one element among many elements; we elected 4 deputy coordinators and a coordinating committee that issues the final say; we also agreed on not delivering any statement except after being authorized by them even if I have a different view.
Do you think your position, as head of Kifaya Movement, is a beginning for moving it to another level?
– Yes …and No … I mean it will and I will continue; we should not forget George Ishak and his aides who did a very hard job and they managed to put Kifaya on the map of the opposition, making it a leading peaceful opposition movement in the Egyptian political scene.
Kifaya may be the most important because it moved the stagnation in the political action; however, Kifaya has went out and its driving force has decreased, what do you think?
– I think what we have recently done in the last stage gave a driving force to the Egyptian street.
But why, do you think, this role was dwarfed, is it related to Kifaya, the public or the political action as a whole?
-A package of reasons; this needs activating committees of the governorates through allowing a democratic decision making and that all take part in this decision making; this method will enrichment the movement; what is moat important, however, is that we manage to have a common ground with other opposition movements through agreeing on the minimum demands for a democratic change and for eradicating corruption; we demand an agreement on priorities.
Some agreements may be inked between political powers and the movement and they aren”t applied on the ground?
– This happens sometimes on the political arena; hopefully we will overcome it; to cite Mihamed Hasanein Heikal, he says:” the intellectual shouldn”t become pessimistic”; so, I am always optimistic for a very simple reason: because I am trust human beings and that they reject injustice which is currently taking place in Egypt and all over the world; on the other hand, with regard to demonstrations that hit The United States, Britain and European areas against what is happening to the Palestinians, Iraqis or the Afghans, we will find out that every one has a part that sidelines the narrow personal interest.
There are reports about huge conflicts inside Kifaya Movement; have they vanished when you assumed your post? Or are they still in place?
– “Huge conflicts” is a bit overblown; every one who thought of submitting his resignation, he retreats; I think the new hierarchical structure will prevent such incidents, because democracy will directly end any disagreement inside meetings.
There are some reports that the state security managed to penetrate Kifaya; is this true; that”s, do you have elements that doesn”t believe in the principles of the movement?
– This is undoubtedly true; but I think that adopting the democratic method will make these elements fail, specially after I was elected as a general coordinator. For example, a state-run newspapers quoted an unidentified young woman saying she is a founder of Kifaya Movement, and that electing Dr. Al Meseiri wasn”t democrat and that, for this reason, she said she withdrew from Kifaya; I said that if this young woman is actually a Kifaya member, she did not participate in any activity or meeting.
Dr. Al Meseiri, we want you to assess Kifaya Movement”s performance during the last two years as a historian, not as a member in the movement?
– All change movements were first launched by a pioneer group that had a new thought and remained sticking to it till social powers adopted this thought. I think that what Kifaya has done is adopting a new ideology, insisting that peaceful change is the only method.
.. But all parties demand this peaceful change?
– The ruling regime has managed to freeze all these parties; we have, instead of them, government vetted parties that we can”t remember even their names; while this ruling National Democratic Party has developed; therefore, Kifaya”s mission is move the stagnation and make all opposition powers fight this regime that lost its relation with reality and has no historical view.
.. Many people ask: will you do after taking to the street in demonstrations; don”t you have any other methods?
– We are already resisting using other ways in order to send our message to the government and people; within a week or two, will draft a new document but demonstrating will be the most important method; a few days ago, I should have delivered an academic lecture about the classification of and analysis of at Saqiet Al Sawi.
Does this have any relation with Kifaya?
-The state security objected to delivering the lecture; what I did was staging a comic vigil on the pavement in front of the public and I cracked jokes and analyzed them; people started to interact with it; my message on the pavement was that I am an ill man but the government fears even a joke that I crack in a public place.
.. isn”t it too much a burden for your health?
– You reiterate what my wife tells me; after this show, I will be back home more healthy.
.. What happened in the Tahrir Square on March, 15; do you feel satisfied with this vigil?
– The security used its iron grip; they security leaders called me warned me before the vigil; I told them that we have been staging peaceful demonstrations during the past three years and have been demanding a peaceful change; they told me that every thing changed.
.. What has changed?
– I did not understand this phrase; the government has seemingly decided to pass the constitutional amendments and other things; consequently, it will not allow any demonstration, and there were other orders; the security conduct was so tough to the extent that they enticed us to a side street, and when we started chanting slogans, they chased us to the extent that they pushed my wife to the ground.
.. Was your wife in the demonstration with you because she was worried about you?
-She was in the demonstration because she has her own political affiliation; the security started to harass me; then Kifaya youth carried me; I realized that the government will not accept any peaceful or violent form of opposition.
.. Monday will be the referendum on the amendments, what has Kifaya prepared for this day?
– All opposition powers, including Kifaya, decided to participate in this boycott because casting votes in this referendum will give it legitimacy; these constitutional amendments are a humiliation to all people, a humiliation to the collective mind of the Egyptian people, the elite, constitutional professors in Egypt; I am so amazed at actions of this government; it carries out a huge work and consults only the policies committee.
.. But isn”t voting “no” a sound decision?
– Definitely no.
.. How do you expect the turnout will be?
– This is a trivial issue because the result is known beforehand; even the turnout is decided beforehand; they will send buses laden with employees and workers and will give them sandwiches to vote “yes”; but this isn”t the key issue.
.. What will happen after the day of the referendum?
– We will explain what happened to people, that the referendum killed an buried constitution, that amended article 179 will end all freedoms, that the new constitution will give the president an indefinite number of terms to stay in office; I think this hasn”t happened in any democratic state all over the world: that the president remains in office for six consecutive terms; the post of a vice-president hasn”t been tackled; there is no shift of powers to the Prime Minister, in addition to problem of the committee for parties affairs which is still tailoring the opposition according to the view of ruling party.
.. Some critics say Kifaya Movement does not have a clear view for moving politically or strategically; and that what take place are merely spontaneous actions and movement in the street.
– We are currently speaking about the amendments. What you are saying is related to the post- amendments period. We will try to address this the next stage.
.. Do you expect a positive role from the opposition to become more effective?
– According to my experience, I think that every historical moment makes its own torch bearers.
.. Do you think that the current moment is making its new torch bearers?
– To cite an example, Saad Zaghloul was before 1919 revolution an ordinary judge who had anti-colonial views; when the revolution erupted, this man became a leader; I think that the current state of tension in Egypt will be more mature if it has sound channels to express itself.
Thus, I call on all freemen to move collectively and work for and defend Egypt; I think that if 100 top intellectuals participated in a single demonstration, they will do something. The media has become an important method of expression and it has become stronger than the security and the government. There are also work unions and professional syndicates whose actions have been stalled for a long time.
.. Don”t you think that these freemen will be oppressed by tyrannical security services?
– It is difficult to happen except if incidents aggravated; if this happened, the issue will snowball.
.. How will Egypt be after these amendments; will it witness more freedoms?
– The amendments mean a full restriction of freedoms; there was an emergency law that oppressed people; there is now a constitution that ends all freedoms.
.. Under this aggravation, do you expect any bigger confrontations between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government?
– The Muslim Brotherhood has learned that a violent confrontation against the regime is useless because the regime has its tyrannical security services; the same applies to the Marxists and others. It was previously believed that change comes only through coups; all sides are convinced that such a revolutionary thinking is useless, especially after it has become clear the modern states are governed by institutions and that the revolutionary change destroys all these institutions; I think the problem of this government is that a modern rational administration of the state requires consultative institutions.
These consultative institution should be present binding or non binding studies and ideas to parliament; as for the way with which Egypt is currently run, there is no political or historical intelligence in the regime.
.. What do you expect from the Arab summit in Riyadh?
– unfortunately a little.
.. What is that expected “little”?
– At least helping the Palestinian National Unity Government will be their maximum ability.
.. Will they adopt the Arab peace initiative take place or the initiative of king Abdullah bin Abd Al-Aziz?
– The latter is rejected by Israel, and is consequently rejected by the United States as well.
.. Do you think that Condoleezza Rice came to the region days before holding the summit to exercise an effect on the summit or to undermine it?
– When Olmert met Condoleezza Rice, he reiterated his “No”: no to Jerusalem, no to right to return for refugees; as for us, we me her with showers of praises because this has become our tradition.
The key problem is that the Arab”s minimum is rejected by the Israeli minimum; Israel wants to keep Jerusalem for ever and wants the Jews to return to Palestine while the Palestinians are denied their right to return.
.. If the status quo is like this, why do we optimistically say that the end of Israel is near?
– The Arab media does not write about the resistance effect on Israel; I published two books and several articles about this topic; because the Arab media is defeatist, it can”t observe the indications of defeat in the Zionist society.
.. Do you think that the word “Jews” which is mentioned in the Qur”an is confined to the Jews of Al-Madina Al-Munawara, dueing the era of the Prophet, peace be upon him?
– The word “Jew” is like the wird “Feraoun”; it means a group of characteristics which aren”t necessarily applied in every Egyptian ruler; these characteristics are in any ruler who oppresses; if the characteristics of the word “Jew” are applied in a certain person, then he is a Jew.
.. You said that 95% of the Jews all over the world aren”t Jews according to the Islamic definition?
– This is because they do not believe in the Doomsday, God or the Torah.
.. then what are they called?
– Atheist secularists; specifically 50% consider themselves atheist Jews.
.. Does “secular Christian”, “Secular Jew” or “secular Muslim” mean that they are atheists?
– It means so in Judaism; I think secularism does not generally mean atheism; a big number of nowadays Jews stick to beliefs that aren”t relate to the Orthodox rabbinical Judaism; they believe in homosexuality and many other rituals that are not relate to Judaism; they don”t practice Saturday rituals, to the extent that they think that Orthodox Judaism isn”t one single version of Judaism. Only 5% of the Jews are the ones addressed in the Islamic definition.
.. What is your opinion about the timing of broadcasting the documentary ” Shakid Soul “that included killing a number of Egyptian POWs by the Israelis in 1967?
– I think they are settling domestic scores inside Israel; that”s, there is no domestic conformity. they are fighting each other even if this is at the expense of their homeland. The issue of the digs at Al-Aqsa Mosque is also a domestic fight; all this is due to their military defeat in Lebanon.
.. Some people in Egypt are angry at the role of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in its dealing with this file?
– I think that the Egyptian diplomacy should have adopted a tougher attitude; they say if summoned the ambassador we will lose channels of contact; this is untrue; we should have withdrawn our ambassador; I think we won”t get anything from the issue of the POWs.