• Reports
  • May 9, 2006
  • 4 minutes read

The Wind of Change Stronger Than Expected

The Egyptian government has made a strategic mistake by extending the application of the Emergency Law, in force since 1981 following the assassination of the former Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat. The extension was adopted despite the fact that the President Hosni Mubarak had expressed his determination to abolish that law during the presidential elections and start applying an ‘anti-terrorism law’.

The arguments provided by the government to justify the extension have not convinced the Egyptian people or the opposition. The terrorist attacks that take the lives of innocent victims and spread anarchy, have not been halted by the Emergency Law, and the security bodies cannot prevent the killings and explosions from taking place despite the free hand they are given in practicing violence and aggression.

The failure of the Emergency Law for over a quarter of a century in ensuring protection for the Egyptian society from terrorist attacks has been attested by the recent incidents at Dahab, last year’s blasts at Sharm Sheikh and other places over the years. On the contrary, the law has led to the propagation of new types of crimes as a result of giving the security bodies a free hand to act without fear of any accountability or monitoring. Besides, the last few years’ experience has proved that the official corruption mafia has flourished in the context of the Emergency Law, which – in the opposition’s words – has remained a sword on the people’s necks.

The Egyptians have never agreed on anything as much as they did concerning the Emergency Law; they stand united against this law that has not observed the desires of the citizens and their aspirations for change and political openness. The opposition confirms that the regime tries to use the law to protect itself, not to protect the people. Only a weak regime resorts to abusive and oppressive laws in order to protect itself. Those laws, even if they manage to prolong the life of the regime for some more years, will never be able to protect such a regime in the long run. Pressure ends up in an explosion: a rule that applies to the situation in Egypt where tensions are building with more possible sectarian and political confrontations. Observers believe that the winds of anger have become stronger than expected.

While the Egyptian leadership denies that the extension of the Emergency Law is intended to strangle the opposition and confirms its insistence on propagating the principles of democracy, including giving the chance to different points of view, the Egyptian opposition views Parliament’s approval of extending the Emergency Law as an indication of the regime’s determination to carry out intimidation and persecution campaigns and nip the political openness in the bud.

The abusive laws restricting freedoms will not scare the Egyptian people and weaken its determination to impose change. This has been confirmed by the several manifestations that have taken place in Egypt on May Day demanding the release of political detainees. The Egyptian people can no longer be fooled by claims that dictatorship and oppression are a developmental necessity, since the regime has failed to achieve growth promised for decades. In fact, the people have lost both democracy and their livelihoods.

Egypt’s rulers have made one concession after the other, starting from Camp David to providing the USA with unlimited support in its alleged anti-terrorism war. They wrongly believed that this could be sufficient to consolidate their rule, overlooking the fact that the first and last judge is the people, who demand a life of dignity and preservation of national basics.

We admit that the management of a country like Egypt in size and status is a big task, and we do not pretend to be more concerned with Egypt than its leaders – for they spare no effort to do anything deemed necessary to serve the country’s interests – but even if the intentions are good, mistakes can be committed.

Nevertheless, the Egyptian leadership still has the chance to listen to the man in the street and correct the mistakes of the past. The swelling security bodies and the exceptional laws will not protect Egypt or the Egyptians. Egypt can be protected only by its position in the heart of the Arab nation. And it is capable – despite its poverty – of resuming its leadership role that would save it and the Arab nation from the conspiracies devised against it.zeditorialz