Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Weeks Into The Revolution

By Jessica Elsayed
Senior reporter

Protesters in Amsterdam on Saturday
Photo by Caroline Nelissen

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt -- It is now two weeks since the Egyptian people’s revolution began, but time has only made the efforts by youth stronger than they were earlier.This is not what the government expected in its attempt to use time as a way to tire protesters into giving up and going home.

This revolution gave birth to a new attitude in the Egyptian people.
They are no longer tricked into believing the government’s faulty promises and they are not going to settle for the ultimate minimum the government wants to provide.
The demands of the people are clear and nothing will make those dedicated to make them a reality back down.
Over the past few days, the newly appointed vice president, Omar Sulieman, has had talks with the opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
But we all know what these talks really are – mere attempts to convey to the public and to the media that the government has taken steps to reform and that demands have been met.
So-called respected Egyptian figures appear on late night talk shows to express their astonishment that demonstrations continue to take place.
They find every possible way to explain why the demands cannot be met by law and by constitution, believing they can easily discourage youth.
So far the tangible changes from the 25th of January have been Mubarak reshuffling the government and appointing a vice president, merely replacing faces and names from other figures from the same old regime.
In addition, Jamal Mubarak, policy head of the pro-Mubarak National Democratic Party, and NDP Secretary General Safwat ElSherif have been replaced by Hosam Badrawy.
Creating the illusion of reform, the Shora Council also promised to look into two articles of the constitution related to presidential elections.
But the chant by protesters for the last 14 days is clear: “The people want the removal of the regime.”
Yet still Mubarak fails to comprehend it.
The removal of the regime means the resignation of the president.
It means ending the state of emergency.
It means the dissolution of the forged People’s Assembly and Shora Council.
It means the formation of a national transitional government.
It means the amendment if not the entire reconstruction of the constitution to allow for fair and transparent presidential elections.
It means the immediate prosecution of those responsible of the deaths of revolutionaries, including Mubarak and former Interior minister Habib El Adly whose hands are stained with the pure blood of 300 martyrs.
It means the immediate prosecution of the corrupt and those who the robbed the country of its wealth.
Some of the people camped at Tahrir Square slept under tanks to ensure that they would not enter the square to empty it.
Today several symbolic funerals were held for the martyrs of Tahrir Square.
Events that initially seemed surreal are now a reality for everyone in Egypt.
And I know that this is only just the beginning.

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Youth Journalism International's annual journalism contest is underway. See www.YouthJournalism.org for details.

1 comment:

Phil Osborn said...

"The removal of the regime means the resignation of the president."

Sounds good, Jessica, but we've been hearing here that then the Egyptian Constitution requires an election for a new president within 60 days.

What has repeatedly surfaced on NPR, which has been a strong supporter of your revolution, is that this deadline could hand the revolution over to whoever is most organized, meaning the Muslim Brotherhood. I would keep in mind that Israel fears that outcome for good reason and has a couple hundred nuclear weapons, as does Pakistan (at least close to one hundred by current estimates.)

The Muslim Brotherhood is not going to attack Israel tomorrow, but it raises the level of tension that could lead to a rapid escalation with a trigger.

Perhaps the president could bring in a council made up of the various opposition leaders and agree to let them see everything and have full veto power over anything he wants to do - effectively relegating his role to being one of several parties of influence. That could carry you over until your various parties have had an opportunity to get their acts together, organize platforms, find suitable candidates, etc.

"It means ending the state of emergency."

And especially a guarantee of no more interference with information sources such as the net. People who fear communication are hiding lies.

"It means the dissolution of ... People’s Assembly and Shora Council.
It means ...a national transitional government."

Sounds like a plan, the Devil being in the details, as always.

"... amendment if not the entire reconstruction of the constitution to allow for fair and transparent presidential elections."

YES! (Wish we had that here in the U.S. - maybe you can show us the way.)

"... immediate prosecution of those responsible of the deaths of revolutionaries, including Mubarak and former Interior minister Habib El Adly whose hands are stained with the pure blood of 300 martyrs."

My advice. Bring in the World Court.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court

They are not afraid to go after anyone, have credibility as an honest broker, and you need an objective outside source now, as people are naturally very angry.

That evil people have blood on their hands doesn't mean you have to follow suit. What's important: take away their power to harm. Consider the precedent. If anyone's rights can be ignored, then everyone's rights are in peril.

"... immediate prosecution of the corrupt and those who the robbed the country of its wealth."

I am in total agreement and wish we were on that page here, where the U.S. economy was virtually destroyed by corrupt people in power, most of whom got off scot free.

But, also, you probably should think about precedents and openness. Who do you trust to be fair, competent and objective in prosecuting and - more important - retrieving the stolen assets and returning them to the Egyptian people? Revenge is sweet, but can lead to endless cycles of retribution, while people starve. I suggest you focus on locating and recovering the stolen wealth.

As far as prosecutions, I would suggest the South African model - the Truth and Reconciliation Panels that offered limited amnesty for people who came forward and detailed their crimes under apartheit. I might suggest that they also be required to tell you where the stolen assets are.

Finally, nobody is perfect. You will make mistakes and feel bad about them. Don't let that stop you. Apologize when necessary, learn from it, and move on to the next step.

Oh, and thanks for setting the example. Breaking news is that the U.S. House just rejected the extension of key portions of the "Patriot Act." I don't think that would have happened if they had not been shamed into it by the example of Egypt. So, you are already doing good in the world.

Phil