Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mohamed Heikal: 'I was sure my country would explode. But the young are wiser than us'

Robert Fisk meets the doyen of Egypt's journalists

"The old man's voice is scathing, his mind like a razor, that of a veteran fighter, writer, sage, perhaps the most important living witness and historian of modern Egypt, turning on the sins of the regime that tried to shut him up forever. "Mubarak betrayed the republican spirit – and then he wanted to continue through his son Gamal," he says, finger pointed to heaven. "It was a project, not an idea; it was a plan. The last 10 years of the life of this country were wasted because of this question, because of the search for inheritanceas if Egypt was Syria, or Papa Doc and Baby Doc in Haiti.".....

Mubarak, he believes, was terrified that government files would be released if he resigned, that the regime's secrets would come tumbling out. "What I'm afraid of is that the dishonesty of some of the politicians in Egypt will tarnish such a valuable event," Heikal says. "They will use the issue of accountability to settle accounts. I want this country to have a proper investigation, not throw these files away for people to use for their own agenda. It is opportunism by politicians that I am afraid of. All the [regime's] files should be opened. An account should be given to our people for the last 30 years – but it should not be a matter for revenge. If small politicians use this, it will affect the value of what must be done."

Historically, Heikal regards the events of the past three weeks as overwhelming, unstoppable, unprecedented.

"In revolutions, there is no pattern. People want a change from a present to a future. Every revolution is conditioned by where it starts and where it is moving. But this event showed a huge Egyptian mass of people that it is possible to defy the terror of the state. I think this will revolutionise the Arab world."....

"Now we have semi-politicians who want to take advantage of this revolution. Some contenders are already promoting themselves. But the system has to be changed. The people made known what they want. They want something different. All the most modern technology in the world was used in this uprising. The people want something different."......"

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