Sunday, June 17, 2012

'Down with the next Egyptian president'

Whoever is declared the next president of Egypt will not be the person most Egyptians want

Ahdaf Soueif, Sunday 17 June 2012

".....As I write, it's looking as if the turnout for this round will settle at about 15%. Compare this to the 80% turnout in March 2011, when Scaf (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces), which had been running the country since Hosni Mubarak was deposed in 2011, put us through our first "democratic" exercise, a referendum: "Constitution first or parliamentary elections first?" The people queued, celebrated and debated – and Scaf twisted the result and cheated in its implementation to stay in power, then worked to spread chaos and division and to brutalise the nation.......This will be Scaf's proudest achievement: that it has disabused the country of any notion that the machinery of the existing state will deliver the system the majority long for.........

On Saturday alone, during the last round of the elections, 35 activists from the 6th April group were detained (under the new powers granted by the minister of justice to the military two days earlier); western journalists warned that it was illegal to conduct interviews in the street; a young woman translating for a Finnish journalist was arrested; security troops went round a number of towns making inquiries about foreign Arabs who might be staying there; 22 Palestinians and Jordanians were detained; seven Syrian activists manning the protest tent in front of the Arab League offices were detained; the ministry of the interior issued warnings that armed Palestinians had been sent by Hamas from Gaza to commit acts of terror in Egypt; the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, wrote that Friday's rockets "were launched after a request by senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt". Xenophobia, division, fear of the Palestinians (on the "they want to lead us into war" ticket) are all being stoked......

The revolution will continue because neither the old regime nor the Islamist trend in its current form are going to deliver "bread, freedom, social justice". Neither of them are going to validate the sacrifices made by the 1,200 young people murdered by the regime, the 8,000 maimed, the 16,000 court-martialled. As the weekend's spectacle unfolds, thousand of young men are in military jails, many of them on hunger strike......

The people have, at every turn, done the right thing. They have taken to the streets when the cause has been theirs, they've stayed away when it's been manufactured. They've been brave and resilient and resourceful. They have learned lessons. They voted the Brotherhood into parliament, and when they performed abysmally they withheld 50% of their vote from the Brotherhood's presidential candidate. They are demanding and trying to push forward effective, unified, progressive representatives who can turn their courage into political gains. Most important, they have taken their revolution to their factories, universities, towns and streets.

For the last several months, a favourite slogan has been: "Down with the next president". Amen."

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