Tag Archives: Mubarak

Egyptian Student Activists Assaulted By Police

Nagy Kamel and Mostafa Shawqy, are engineering students at Helwan University in Cairo and mainly focus on their studies, but one day as they entered the engineering building they were met by a group of police who demanded their ID cards, searched their bags, and then handcuffed the boys and took them off to jail. In Mubarak Egypt, it is a crime to speak out forcefully against his policies and doing so in public makes one subject to being searched and handcuffed. The assault on the boys took place one day after the Resistance Students,to which they belong, held a seminar that focused on the incompetent policies of the Mubarak administration. “We are active inside the university and know that what they’re doing is an attempt to stop our activity There’s an atmosphere of fear among students in the faculty of engineering.”

Students and faculty are both aware of police policies to stifle free discussion and to harass students who openly speak their mind. The boys will most probably be charged with physically assaulting police officers during the altercation.

According to many observers, since deans are appointed and usually have a security check which ensures police authorities have a voice in who becomes a dean, there is scant chance university administrators will take the side of their students against security forces.

Future Of Egypt’s Mubarak Unclear!

Hosni Mubarak has been president of Egypt since 1981 which makes him among the world’s longest lasting head of government. He has ruled in an authoritarian manner by denying the right of others to gain power in government. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been banned from running for office, and it is not uncommon for editors to be arrested because they express views which cast any criticism of Mubarak. Egypt’s ruling party would up its annual conference with extensive discussion regarding the future of the National Democratic Party. Gamal Mubarak, son of the president, insisted his party was in good shape and refused to discuss his own future.

The worse case scenario for Egypt is for Gamal Mubarak to take over from his father. Egypt needs democracy, it needs new ideas, it needs new leadership, and it needs a leader who can energize the economy and draw upon the nation’s able young people. Continuing the same old men in leadership is not a recipe for innovation.

Egyptian Government Cracks Down On Muslim Group

The government of President Mubarak continued its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as well as anyone connected with the religious group that has been outlawed for many years due to fear it seeks to overthrown the government. Eleven media executives were arrested for “being involved in an Islamic organization affiliated with he Muslim Brotherhood.” The media group included a wide range of individuals including anchors and producers who work for private Egyptian and Arab satellite channels. The detainees claim they were gathered for a discussion with a professor from Al Azhar University. Ahmed Ragheb of the Mubarak Law Center claims at least one anchor, Aly Abdel Rahman, was taken to the hospital after being beaten by the police.

The underlying reason for the attack most probably is connected to the effort of the government to destroy any opposition to its authoritarian rule. The MB most probably has the support of at least one-third of the population, including those who want a free society that will stimulate the economy as it furthers the goal of freedom of speech, assembly and the right to vote for people of one’s choice.

Egyptian Journalists Demand Free Press

Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Dostour, was sentenced to a prison term for the crime of writing a story that claimed President Mubarak was ill. Egyptian courts termed his offense a “dangerous crime” because by spreading false information he would cause public panic. President Mubarak, in response to world-wide anger at the sentencing, said he had “solitude for freedom of opinion and expression and for the freedom of the press” which would result in voiding the sentence against Eissa. Mr. Eissa welcomed the president’s decision but made clear he opposed the present regime and wants an end to all laws that prevent freedom of the press. Columnist Salama Ahmed Salama told Al Ahram “to a great degree it has dissolved tensions between state and press.”

Eissa pointed out there are still several cases pending against journalists who are accused of printing false information. It is important that President Murbarak finally realized the world was watching his performance as leader in a coalition that supposedly is fostering democratic ideas.

Egypt Arrests Muslim Brotherhood Members

Egypt remains a key American ally in the struggle to establish democratic societies in the Middle East, but unfortunately, the Egyptian government has stifled free speech and made free elections an unusual event. The major opponent of President Mubarak is the Muslim Brotherhood which enjoys considerable popularity among many sectors of Egyptian society. On Monday, security forces arrested 39 members of the Muslim Brotherhood while its leaders were on vacation in the Nile Delta. An official stated: “Thirty-nine Muslim Brothers were arrested while on holiday in Kafr Al-Sheikh. The website of the Muslim Brotherhood indicated three of those arrested held positions of local power in the organization. The men are accused of propogating Muslim Brotherhood ideas and being found in possession of Islamist literature which is banned in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 and officially banned while President Nasser led the nation. The Brotherhood currently holds about one fifth of seats in Parliament although these representatives must run as independents.

The Muslim Brotherhood can play a vital role in furthering the development of democracy in Egypt. The Egyptian government needs an opposition in order to curb nepotism and corruption which are widespread in Egypt.

How Egypt Alienates Young People!

Egyptian secondary students are involved in the dreaded “thanawiyya amma”(general secondary) exam which, for most, will determine the future course of their life. Safwat Hassan, aged 17, came from a poor family and he was discouraged as he worked his way through the math portion of the exam because he had concluded there was no hope and he would fail. His family was too poor to treat teachers to the customary meals at exam time and Safwat concluded this meant he would fail. At the end of his math exam, he added some personal comments to the effect, that (president) Mubarak was a “tyrannical leader” and that Egyptians were “a cowardly people”for refusing to stand up to such leadership.

Within a few hours after Mr. Hassan concluded his exam, Egyptian security forces arrested him and made him undergo several hours of intensive questioning for having the nerve to claim the beloved President Mubarak was some sort of tyrant. He was finally released from police headquarters but informed he was barred from taking any future final exams this year although he could take another crack in a year. We assume, provided he behaved himself and wrote that President Mubarak was the most brilliant leader known in Egyptian history.

The real mystery of this story is how did the police learn about Hassan’s comment on a math exam? Did teachers inform on their student? Did the school administration betray a young boy from a poor family knowing they, in effect, were destroying his life chances for education? One can assume there is a high probability that Hassan might wind up in an anti-government group.

Facebook Leader Jailed In Egypt

April Esraa Abdel-Fattah, founder of the Facebook group known as “6 April: A Nationwide Strike” was finally released from jail after being held for sixteen days. She masterminded the April 6 demonstration organized via Facebook that was designed to peacefuly protest against risng food prices. She told reporters that henceforth, she would not participate in any form of “virtual activity.” Her uncle said that Ms. Fattah no longer had a computer. April Fattah originally was detaned on April 7 and two days later authorities said she would be released, but the Interior Ministry overruled that decision and kept her in jail for an additional two weeks.

Her imprisonment transformed Ms. Fattah into a heroine among Egypt’s youthful population. There are now rumors the Mubarak government is planning to block, or at least strictly monitor, the Facebook pages that have become a tool in political protest. Amr Elshobaki of the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, said “it is unwise, not to say impossible, to deal wih Egypt’s virtual community with the same security-minded mindset the state uses in confronting on-the-ground challenges” since “the pages that are closed can easily be re-loaded on other sites.” There are now hundreds of websites that bloggers have created so their voices can be heard loud and clear.

A repressive regime like that of President Mubarak do not yet grasp that preventing young people access to democratic means of protest invariably results in them using technology to express their views. He can not shut down the Internet.

Is Muslim Brotherhood Mubarak’s Real Fear

The recent elections in Egypt were marked by pressure exerted upon candidates who ran as members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2005, Brotherhood candidates who ran as independents were able to secure about 20% of the votes. The organization is barred and more than 800 of its members were arrested prior to the April 8 election. According to the Brotherhood’s Deputy Chairman, Momhammed Habib, “it looks like the ruling National Democratic Party is not able to compete fairly with the Muslim Brotherhood” and they panicked when they saw the results of the 2005 election. Originally, the MB hoped to field 10,000 candidates in the elections that were held two weeks ago, but only 21 made it onto the ballot papers.

Mubarak is making the same mistakes that were made by the Shah of Iran before he was overthown by Islamic clerics. Mubarak is relying on force, intimidation, and terror rather than focucing on creating a vibrant economy that offers jobs and security to the population. Thousands of well educated Egyptians leave their nation each year in search of decent jobs, this results in robbing the economy of the talents of those who might be able to stimulate economic develoment.

Where does the United States stand in regard to the disastrous policies of President Mubarak? America supplies him with money, but the money rarely results in economic development or the creation of first class education that could allow Egyptians opportunities to rise from poverty. The end result is always the same– a revolution that brings forth radical elements into power.

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Lies Low

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhod has recently displayed rather cautious behavior such as refusing to participate in strikes against the government. There apparently is considerable fear among its leaders that President Mubarak is seeking an incident of violence which would allow him to use the full power of government in order to completely disband the Muslim Brotherhood. As Kaili Al Anani points out in the Daily News, “it is completely aware that the regime is waiting for any opportunity to finish it off at any price and arrest its leading figures.” Brotherhood leadership is trapped in a quandry, do they urge the masses to rise up in protest and seek to make changes, an action that might result in slaughter of thousands or do they lie low and wait for a better opporunity to take a stand?

The April 6th strikes did impact Egyptian society although it certainly did not force the Mubarak government to initiate any dramatic reforms. Egyptian is a time bomb waiting to explode but the Bush administration is so focused on Iraq it does not grasp the possibility of an even greater danger to the west of Iraq.

Rigged Egypt Election Reduces Turnout

The Egyptian government has been denying members of the Muslim Brotherhood their rightto engage freely in local elections which proved a major factor in reducing the number of people who actually decided to vote. Some human rights groups estimated only about two perent of those eligible to vote actually got around to casting a ballot. Mahdi Akef, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned actions by the Mubarak government which denied members of his organization from even being able to register to vote, let alone cast a ballot. It was estimated about 90% of seats up for election were held by members of the Mubarak National Democratic Party who were running unoppsed.

The Mubarak government each year becomes ever more distant from the needs and aspirations of the Egyptian population. By denying the democratic process his party gains a temporary victory, but, in the end, the only winner will be forces of violence and terrorism. Rising prices, lack of job opportunities and denial of democratic rights are bound to eventually turn most Egyptians to cast their eyes in the direction of those who promise to improve their lives.