BraveNewEgypt

Archive for March 2011

Dr Mohamed ElBaradei

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As speculation and debate continue over the candidates for Egypt’s presidency continue, smear campaigns against their characters have already begun. This is not surprising, but BNE would like to set a few things straight, firstly with regard to Dr Mohamed ElBaradei. The former IAEA chief and Nobel Prize winner announced his intention to run for the presidency a long time ago, and has been speaking for change in Egypt for even longer. Unfortunately his opponents are attempting to vilify him and his message for clear and democratic change. Some of these attempts are petty, such as a story in Al-Ahram about him cutting to the front of the line to vote which eye-witnesses made clear was untrue, while others are much more serious and unfortunately are likely to be believed by many of Egypt’s uneducated citizenry, and you can guess where they stem from. Unfortunately ElBaradei was attacked when he went to vote, which is an example of extreme ignorance on the part of his attackers. Maybe they don’t understand his perspective. You can see it here:

 

I won’t necessarily vote for ElBaradei, but there is no doubt that he is experienced. He has been criticised for not having a political background, but perhaps that is what Egypt needs most at this point of transition, a candidate who has no allegiances to political parties in Egypt. He has a distinguished background in foreign affairs and international relations, and he has been calling for change in Egypt long before the Revolution.

Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 26, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Posted in Post-11.02.2011

Charlie Chaplin and the Egyptian Revolution

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I never thought I would give one of my blog-posts this title. The brilliance of this video is staggering. It is a combination of the ultimate speech from The Great Dictator with footage from the January 25th Revolution. Courtesy of Peop1e, an egalitarian pro-peace organisation. See the complete text below:

“I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor; that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.

“We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

“The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.

“Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

“We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity; more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

“The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

“The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die – liberty will never perish…

“Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

“Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

“In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written “the kingdom of God is within man” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

“You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

“Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Post-11.02.2011

“This Is Egypt’s Moment”

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American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo:

Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 18, 2011 at 5:10 am

Posted in Post-11.02.2011

Thanks, But No Thanks

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Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Posted in Post-11.02.2011

Vote No

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As Saturday the 19th of March draws nearer, the day set out for the national referendum on the proposed constitutional amendments, the collective outcry for a brand new constitution is growing louder and louder. Most of those involved in the Revolution have denounced the referendum, and the many political parties that are springing up are also opposed. The most notable advocates for the referendum are the Muslim Brotherhood, who not surprisingly have the most to gain from its implementation.

While the many new political factions that have sprung up in the wake of the events of February 11th are still gathering themselves and solidifying their agendas and campaign proposals, the NDP and MB will gain the most. In all likelihood, any new constitution would end up being drafted by members of those two parties, neither of which are legitimate, and neither of which represent the people of Egypt as a whole. Mubarak’s NDP is a disgraced affair, with many continuing to call for its dissolution. The MB on the other hand is a) religiously affiliated and so it should not be a political party, b) it represents such a small minority that it should not be allowed to gain any amount of power through an unfair referendum, and c) its agenda is likely to be completely opposite of the message promoted by the revolution: civil liberties, human rights, and free and liberal Egypt.

By voting no a clear message is sent: the Egyptian people will not accept any masquerade of change; real change must be comprehensive, broad-reaching, and so fundamental that there can be no danger of returning back to the days of Mubarak.

 

Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Post-11.02.2011

If The West Won’t Come, Look To The East

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A Kingdom of Libya flag is waved from a building in Zawiyah, as anti-Gaddafi protesters cheer below.

As news filtered through yesterday regarding the supposed vote on a UN resolution (to take place later this week or early in the next one) to implement a no-fly zone in Libya, it became clear that Libya will receive no aid from the West. Despite vocal support from David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, the West failed to live up to its own high standards of freedom and liberty.

The US felt that any action should be taken through the United Nations, which is the reasoning behind the vote meant to take place later this week. The irony behind that statement of faith in the UN is overwhelming. Where was the need for permission from the UN when the US intervened in Kosovo? Afghanistan? The Iraq War? How ironic that the country that is most representative of modern ideals of democracy and liberalism suddenly disappears from the spotlight when it has the greatest ability to provide a positive result on the situation?

Over the past week the question of whether US intervention in Libya would be a good idea has been debated back and forth in the American media. While Cameron and Sarkozy made it clear that they were prepared to implement a no-fly zone, Obama remained ominously silent, as he had with the Revolution in Egypt, and earlier with the revolt in Tunisia.

Now as we sit and wait for the UN draft resolution vote, there is only on relevant question: is it too late? Pro-Gaddafi forces are closing in on Benghazi, and despite vowing to fight to the death, if Benghazi falls, then the Libya Revolution will surely fall with it. While everyone has looked to the West to aid the Libyan rebels, it might be prudent to look a little to the east, or just across the border.

Despite being in political turmoil and still reeling from a revolution that ended little more than a month ago, no one is better placed to aid Libya than Egypt. Relations between Libya and Egypt have never been particularly warm, for a host of different reasons, but the two neighbours now have a common thread that ties them together: the urge for freedom from tyranny and a democratic system of government.

If the West had wanted to get involved they could have easily. The US has a a fully equipped base in Gibraltar, while France is across the Mediterranean, and the UK is based in Malta. A naval blockade that would ensure that no goods were smuggled into or out of Libya would be feasible, and a no-fly zone would not be difficult to implement. And yet the reluctance to intervene remains palpable and could very likely have already condemned this revolution to failure.

Egypt has always been a leader in the Middle East. After Tunisia sparked the fire of revolution, Egypt stoked it till it was roaring and achieved a result never believed possible. Egypt is now meant to develop into a democracy, separate of the old systems of government that have dominated Middle Eastern thinking for the past 60 years and more. What better way to show that it is moving out of the shadow of backward thinking and towards a pro-freedom mindset than helping the nation to its west when it is at its most vulnerable? The Arab world has admitted that Gaddafi has lost legitimacy, and the Arab League has expressed support for a no-fly zone, so there is no reason to not openly support the rebel forces. After all, the Egyptian people were in this very position a month ago, and if these roles had been reversed, would Egypt not be eternally grateful for any intervention towards its cause that was forthcoming from Libya?

Egypt has one of the strongest air forces in the Middle East, certainly stronger than the ill-equipped contingent that is operated by Gaddafi’s forces. Not a single soldier need set foot on Libyan land, and indeed this is an uprising that must be conducted by the Libyan people, and yet a no-fly zone and naval blockade would certainly be options well-worth considering. It would be in Egypt’s own interest to intervene, as it would surely gain an ally for the future, and it would be much more secure with a democratic government next door, rather than one controlled by tyrannical maniac. If any single nation can empathise with the people of Libya, would that nation not be Egypt?

Finally, if Egypt did intervene in order to promote freedom and liberty, it would signal to the West that it is a nation that is truly intent on upholding those ideals, and that it can succeed where the West fails. It would be a first step that would herald the arrival of a truly new Egypt. One can only hope that it is not too late and that Benghazi can hold on in the face of a full onslaught by Gaddafi’s forces.

For a somewhat contrasting viewpoint go here.

Dylan Ratigan interviews French writer Bernard-Henri Levy, who gives a passionate speech in support of the Libyan rebels and foreign intervention to aid them:

Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 16, 2011 at 3:42 am

Posted in Post-11.02.2011

Beware the Ides of March

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Men and women protesting side by side in the midst of the 18-day Revolution. More than 30 women are known to have been killed during the Revolution.

The ‘Million Women’s March’ that was organised and took place on March 8th was not the success that many Egyptians, both men and women, had hoped it would be. The March was intended to demonstrate that Egyptian women intended to and expected to play an equal role in the political, social, and economic landscape of a post-revolution Egypt. They demanded that a new constitution allow for women to be able to hold any office, including the Presidency. They demanded fairness and equality, and for an end to the gender- based discrimination that has plagued Egypt throughout its entire modern history. For a country that is meant to be heading forward in a progressive and democratic manner, these demands are necessary and significant.

Unfortunately, the March was marred by a counter-demonstration composed of men who both rejected these demands, solely on the basis of gender, and then harassed and groped the women until the military intervened. Some men did attempt to stand by the women, but they were assaulted and accused of being queer.

The events of the demonstration highlighted two important factors: 1) that women must play a part in a new Egypt, as part of an equal and just society, and 2) that ignorance remains a dark cloud hanging over Egypt.

The irony of the Women’s March being attacked in Midan el Tahrir, the focal point of a Revolution that overlooked differences between Egyptians in order to achieve the common goal of freedom, is shocking. As Egyptians of all creeds joined together to oust President Mubarak, they represented a future that would not be rife with social inequalities, but instead one in which a meritocracy would unfold, and each citizen would be viewed as an individual with potential rather than as a member of a particular group of people. The actions of March 8th represent a step backwards, and a view that while all Egyptians were represented in Liberation Square, only men would be endowed with liberty afterwards. And the question remains, what of the women who lost their lives for the message of freedom and equality? To ignore their sacrifice is beyond reason.

Women played an active role in the Revolution, and many have credited the restraint of violence on the part of the demonstrators to the fact that women were involved. Women played a huge role in providing aid to the injured, as well as reporting and blogging. Israa Abdel Fattah, Gigi Ibrahim, Asmaa Mahfouz, and countless others were involved in providing information to news agencies, raising awareness and helping those not present in Egypt to keep up with events. Sally Zahran was a demonstrator who made the ultimate sacrifice. Overall, at least more than 30 women are known to have died during the Revolution.

The issue at hand is not one of praise of the women who put themselves in danger for their country, although they no doubt should be. The issue if one of respect. If we cannot look past our fellow citizen’s gender, the most basic of differences, then how as a society will we look past differences in religion, political belief, wealth, and social status? If anything, the acceptance of women as equals should be a trigger to propel our nation forward.

A few factors need to be considered however, these mainly being the lack of education which fosters this ignorance, and the contemptuous attitude from religious authorities. Simply put, the education system in Egypt is a joke. State-run schools perform at woefully below-par levels compared to their counterparts not only in the West but even around the Middle East. And Cairo University, once a leading institution, has deteriorated dramatically. Many continue to forget that women have played huge roles in the development of the modern Egypt; Hoda Shaarawi and Doria Shafik are names that stand out. A lack of education, especially for Egypt’s poorer demographic will only lead to more ignorance about women’s rights, and about the ability of women to participate in a free society. The medieval gender roles of the occupational man and the brood-rearing woman remain entwined with Egyptian society, and this is unlikely to change without proper education.

The second and just as influential benefactor to this ignorance is the role that religion plays. While there are some who believe in equality, due to established social paradigms both Muslim and Coptic leaders are hesitant to voice any support for women’s rights. In a society where religion holds a primary role in daily life, this silence will only hinder women’s rights. Pre-conceived notions of religion that establish patriarchal and misogynist tendencies must be done away with. The Wahabbi interpretation of Islam must be recognised as incompatible with a modern Egypt, and the best place for this to done is through Al-Azhar, the world’s leading Muslim university. An entirely secular constitution would be the most beneficial for Egypt, as it would remove many of these pre-conceived notions from the governmental sphere. Finally, one should look at the broad jurisprudence of feminism regarding this subject.

If anyone thought that all of Egypt’s troubles would be solved the day after the Revolution, they could not be more wrong. This is a process that will take time, and will take the efforts of all Egyptians who want a truly free and just society, regardless of their gender.

 

Written by BraveNewEgypt

March 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Post-11.02.2011