Thursday, November 25, 2010

The man who dares to take on Egypt's brutal regime

Despite beatings and corruption, Ayman Nour still hopes for change. Ahead of new polls, our man meets him

By Robert Fisk

"....Mind you, being Mr Moubarak's rival is not for amateurs. It's cost Dr Nour more than four years in prison and here he is, on the eve of Egyptian parliamentary elections, sitting in Beirut – rather than Cairo – to express his disdain for the 'moderate', 'pro-Western' regime of America's favourite Middle Eastern dictator (alongside King Abdullah of Jordan, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Bouteflika of Algeria, Ben Ali of Tunis, King Hassan of Morocco and the rest). So long live President Hosni Moubarak.

But how long? Dr Nour's Ghad party – Ghad means 'tomorrow', which may never come – is not taking part in this weekend's parliamentary elections which will, he feels sure, be as rigged as every election in Egypt since the early years of President Anwar Sadat. "I believe that what you are about to witness at the weekend is part tragedy, part comedy, a black comedy," he says.....

....The attack, Nour said, was a message sent in response to his newspaper article. Exactly who it came from he cannot, or will not, say.

From Moubarak's businessman son Gamal, I ask, the ruling National Democratic Party factotum who would be king, the son who swears he does not wish to be president but whose supporters devoutly wish him to inherit the Pharaoh's throne?....

Ask about Gamal, and Dr Nour shakes his head. "I don't have much to say about a man who has no features, no charisma, a man who has not been in any election in his life, who is nevertheless a leader, the decision-maker in an unconstitutional way. He is a president under construction. He is like plastic. He is not human. You can talk about trees and flowers but not something that is made of plastic, it has no life.".

Phew, I say. So what does Nour think of Moubarak the father – who, like Gamal, he has met several times – about the president who at 82 has said that he is thinking of standing for president yet again next year? "He is an inexperienced and uneducated man," he replies. "His mind is set in one way. He doesn't have sufficient knowledge. He is a small dictator who became a big dictator as his age increased. He looks very much down on the Egyptian people. But his barber is a nice guy.".......

Dr Nour believes the Muslim Brotherhood, the illegal but tolerated opposition party which lends a mirage of democracy to Egypt's polls, should not be participating in this weekend's parliamentary elections. "They will regret it," he says. "They have got into a fight which the regime wanted, when there will be an election that will be rigged. By participating, they are giving legitimacy to this. Once, when Moubarak was told he had gained 99 per cent in a presidential election, he told his minister: 'This is far too much – take it down a bit!' That's what Moubarak admitted in a newspaper interview."....... "

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