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2 Mar 2011 - 22 Oct 2014
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 24 February - 2 March 2011
Issue No. 1036
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Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875
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Separate state, religion
Sir-- I am absolutely thrilled. This was a Gandhian revolution without a Gandhi! Now I hope that sane heads will prevail, foreign governments will not interfere and Egypt sets up a most progressive, modern, liberal democracy. Two necessary conditions for this to happen are:
- Total separation of religion and state, to a point that no party can even have a name that has religious connotations. Not one penny of public money or land can be associated with any religion. No person who espouses one religion over another must be employed by the government.
- All humans who are physically within the borders of Egypt at anytime have equal rights.
There is one other major impact this had here and all around the world. I suddenly sense that Arabs in general, and Egyptians in particular have gained an enormous respect among Americans, and in fact, people from all over the world. This has made everyone sit up and think about their prejudices against Arabs and specifically Muslims. That the world indeed belongs to the youth, and Egyptian youth have shown enormous courage. The sight of people sweeping and cleaning Tahrir Square taught also everyone a big lesson. The whole world is proud of our fellow human beings in Egypt.
Sarma Vrudhula
Changing skin
Sir-- Now that the dust is finally settling, it's time to contemplate about the state media's stance towards the 25 January revolt.
One of the screaming phenomena is the difference in editorial tone of some government newspapers. At first, they took on a cautious position vis-à-vis the revolution. Their tone was one of apprehension and caution. This was well understood considering the fact that Mubarak had not yet stepped down and no one was sure what was going to happen. However, after Mubarak's announcement to resign, the tone started to be extremely critical of the former president and even rude at times. Mubarak's regime, which had up until 25 January been highly regarded and revered by the state-owned media, became after the 25th the subject of ridicule and severe criticism by the same media. Some of the headlines were extremely offensive to the past regime, ie "The people oust the regime" instead of the less sensational but more in line with editorial policy "Mubarak steps down". It was quite saddening to see that Mubarak's old friends and supporters, who had totally believed in him and his policies changed their position and beliefs only hours after his downfall. This abrupt change of position was quite shocking, especially that it came from dailies that were considered the mouthpiece of the government. Many columnists who devoted their writing to praising Mubarak and his regime have now turned against him. I totally despise it, and so do many people, when the media which are supposed to educate and inform people change their skin according to where the mob is heading and who wins in the end. I hope the new era will witness a new trend of good, professional journalism.
Dina Lamey
With us or not?
Sir-- Somewhere along the line after the first couple of days after 25 January, the call for "strong reforms" within the government turned into, "out with Mubarak and out with the regime" turning people on to revolution mode. And within just a few hours the witch hunt began to the tune that if you are not with us then you are against us.
People began digging, wanting to find any feelings expressed by anyone who might have had some criticism or hesitation about a total collapse of government; not even criticism but just sheer worry. Even family and friends had fallouts over this. People took time off to sit and compile quotes, to circulate on the Internet, from media people, political analysts, celebrities, artists, sports athletes and anyone who dared to just ask the question: where are you taking me to? And isn't this simply the same question everyone is asking now?
Who gave the right for an Egyptian, revolutionist or not, to question another Egyptian's patriotism? Who gave people the right to say if you are not with us then you are pro-corruption, pro-police brutality, pro-rigged elections; that you are one of those benefiting from an ill-fit government, and even worse, that you are a traitor to the cause. Pro-reformers did not attempt to stop demonstrations or belittle them. Many, many people just saw that change might be able to come through different means. To the people who are heavy criticisers of pro-reformists, I say it was and is still not your right or even a correct assessment to say or assume that moderate people do not want to see Egypt at its highest peak. It is not your right to divide a people who all want to see changes for a better Egypt, whether through reforms or revolution. It is a new time for Egypt and the Egyptian, but it will not start until the witch hunt is called off.
Mona Abdel-Ghani
The 1970s
Sir-- Re 'Why?' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 17-23 February) in the 1970s, the Egyptians were more afraid of an attack from Israel than today. This is 2011 and there are new economic alignments occurring today that didn't exist in the 1970s. Egypt now has the choice to participate in the trading bloc with China, Brazil, Russia, Iran, Latin America and thus build up their economy apart from the US and Israel. Israel cannot stand an economic rival. This is why Israel wanted Iraq destroyed and wants Iran to be destroyed.
Egypt's economy was dismantled primarily to appease Zionism. That is why Sadat followed by Mubarak received "aid" from the US -- because they were willing to suppress the aspirations of the 80 million Egyptians.
John Parker
Don't forget the ladies
Sir-- I have been following your movement towards freedom with great joy. But I was dismayed that the new council convened to develop your democracy doesn't include any woman (unless I am mistaken). I quote Abigail Adams, the wife of one of our founding fathers, John Adams, who wrote to him on 31 March 1776 as he met with others to develop the Declaration of Independence: "Remember the ladies". You will be short- changing yourself not to fully include women in your development. Look at how successful South Korea is now relative to Japan -- and the South Koreans have been much more open than the Japanese in having women in all professions.
Trisha Gorman
Better tomorrow
Sir-- Over the past several weeks, Egyptians have bravely shown the world how a peaceful revolution can drive positive political change. In that spirit, it is now time to revolutionise the way we deal with each other by creating equally positive cultural change in Egypt.
If we want to truly be a decent and civil society, let us abandon the previous ills that have been happening between men and women, the rich and the poor, the educated and non-educated, urban and rural folk, the working class and the unemployed, Muslim and Christian, and younger and older generations. Let us live the true meaning of dignity and respect for all humankind.
Let us also abandon the previous ills in our country, ills in the form of littering our streets, spitting in public, and burning trash in residential areas. Let us nurture our land back to health so that she can continue to give back and sustain us for generations to come.
And finally, let us abandon the previous ills in our social habits such as driving dangerously, not waiting our turn in public lines, and giving or accepting bribes. Let us create order out of chaos so that we can carry out our day-to-day activities without undue stress and hardships.
The time has come again for Egyptians to rise to a higher calling, one that defines, practices and upholds values of tolerance, dignity, trust, compassion and respect. From this day forward, let us hold each other accountable for the new Egypt we now need to build. Let us say, "No more injustice upon us, no more injustice towards one another, no more injustice to our beloved land Egypt". Surely then, will Egypt be able to realise its many hopes for a better today and tomorrow.
Hanan Heakal
Americans inspired
Sir-- Before Cairo fell, arrogant Israeli leaders and their cocky American spokesmen thought that they had President Obama in a head lock. When they wanted to squeeze it, they did so.
Indeed they often claimed, in effect, that we had a duty to send our sons to their deaths in the defence of Israel. They mouthed their claims of influence over our government and so reduced our cowardly media to silence that they became unaware of the growing anti-Semitism that is sweeping our society on virtually every level.
Cairo and the sudden appearance, as out of nowhere, of the new Arabic generation, has ripped to shreds whatever game books Israel and its American supporters had in use. With the success of Cairo, non-Jewish Americans no longer feel inhibited about speaking their distaste for Israel and its American supporters. Oddly enough, the Arab "street" declared openly their revolt against the existing order and triggered in this country a sea change in the minds of non-Jews with respect to Israel and its American supporters. Whereas American non-Jews in their half-sleep simply had a desire to get Israel out of their hair, they now want Israel to get out of our government. They see the danger of having our nation despised by over a billion Muslims who hate Israel and its degrading treatment of Palestinians.
They want to hear from our government the reason why we have identified ourselves with Israel. Americans owe it to their sons to demand an answer.
Harold Reynolds
New York
Monetary facts
Sir-- I wish you all the luck in the world on forming your new government. I would like to give you some advice and information that will allow you to see the truth about the monetary system and how if you do not address this issue in the formation of your government, you will end up back in the same position as you were, with another dictator puppet controlled by the international bankers. They are frequently misnamed as "Western" influence, but you must understand that all of the "Westerners" are just puppets to the money power. This "international" money power owes no allegiance to any country, but uses them all to further their own parasitic plans. If you study the monetary systems you cannot help come to the conclusion that nothing in the world will change until we eliminate the "debt" based monetary system and fractional reserve banking system which has turned the majority of the planet into self-imposed slavery. In the US and most of the world, the government "borrows" money into existence from a "private" bank called the Federal Reserve, which is in fact not Federal and has no reserves. The "Fed" creates "money" out of thin air and "loans"" it to us at interest. This justifies the existence of the tyrannical IRS, who acts as the Sheriff of Nottingham, collecting the interest to pay this imaginary debt in the form of personal income tax. It is my hope that this message can be shared with everyone, everywhere and right now especially the US and the people of the Egyptian revolutionary movement. This is a fantastic opportunity to end your own "debt based" monetary system and experience true freedom. You could become a shining example that the rest of the world would see and start to ask their governments, including ours, why they continue to shackle us all with their debt based predatory slavery?
John Hirko
North Carolina
History looted
Sir-- Why did you break into the archaeological museum with our ancient past, the mummies, etc? This is a cultural heritage and part of our history, part of all the world's history and monuments of human civilisation. The Prophet Mohamed did not instruct you to break all these things. You asked for Nefertiti's head to come back to Cairo. Don't dare ask for ancient statues back.
Dimitris Ibrahim
Islamists at bay
Sir-- Egyptians have gotten a taste of the freedoms that democracy brings, and they aren't turning back. Hopefully, they can keep the radical Islamists in check. They are just chomping at the bit to take control, and impose their beliefs.
Aaron Persil
What is to give Light
What is to give light must endure
burning, a man once said
Another man became the matchstick
that set a nation aflame
But fire, and its appetite, cannot be
calculated, like freedom
Injustice and desperation make men
combustible, like dry wood
When words lose their meaning
and an entire people their voice --
so they can neither laugh nor scream --
death and life begin to taste the same
From Tunis, to Egypt, to Lebanon to Yemen
the light from a burning man proved catching
And those with nothing to lose, or offer, but bodies
fanned the embers of their hopes into a blazing dream.
Yahia Lababidi is a US-based Egyptian aphorist/poet and former UNESCO official. He wrote this poem two days after the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution.
Shut Brotherhood out
Sir-- Egypt appears to be open to allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to play a key role in a reformed Egyptian government. If the Obama White House really believes this is possible, it is even more hopelessly incompetent than we imagined. The Freedom Centre has been warning about the Muslim Brotherhood since 9/11. The Brotherhood is the godfather organisation for jihad in the Middle East (and in the US where it operates through the Muslim Student Association and other fronts). Its "Palestinian" branch, Hamas, calls for the annihilation of Israel. Osama bin Laden was a graduate of the Brotherhood; so was the mastermind of 9/11, Sheik Khaled Mohamed. It opposes the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement of 1979, without which Israel would be under the gun again if the Brotherhood takes over.
In suggesting that the Muslim Brotherhood can be a democratic partner in Egypt, Obama has outdone even the Carter administration's destabilisation of the Shah of Iran in 1979 and its welcoming of the theocratic fascist Khomeini as a saint.
Lorne Donovan
Reform now
Sir-- Amr Moussa of the Arab League is right: "Reform is the name of the game, and reform has to happen now all over the Arab world."
Mohamed Ibrahim
Change coming
Sir-- No matter how much it frightens the US and Israel, the popular demand for reform is strong and building daily. A few years from now, the Arab world will be a very different place. The day of the US puppet government is coming to an end. The wise will get on board; the foolish will be run over. Neither rubber nor lead bullets can stop that.
Brian Phelps
Which way?
Sir-- Are the demonstrations in Egypt Muslim-fundamentalist inspired or are they popular demonstrations of a more democratic nature? It seems that average Muslims are getting fed up with hardline Muslim fundamentalism in some parts of the Middle East.
Sarah Kamel
New Jersey
Not always free
Sir-- Finally, let's hope a positive change will take hold in Egypt. It seems that, for some nations, it must come down to extreme behaviour for any meaningful change to occur. Certainly, Americans have more options to make our voices heard. But are we perfect in this regard? Not always. For example, right before our US president decided to bomb Iraq (despite his constitutional lack of authority to do so), there were several peaceful protests right here in America that the Bush administration ordered the media not to cover. There were massive numbers of people and no mainstream media coverage. It's too bad we reward the bad while ignoring the good. It does not for healthy democracy make.
Tim Barkin
New Jersey
Hiccup in history
Sir-- This American country has experience with a leader whose own father was a leader for four years. Things got a bit screwed up but we're working on getting things back to centre. Anyway, you are a strong people who have endured through trials and such tribulations longer than anyone I know can fathom. I have faith that this hiccup in your history will come out for the best.
Marlo Hemmings
Keep to yourself
Sir-- I think the USA should focus on solving their own problems instead of busy-bodying with someone else's. Egypt has been stable for a long time perhaps because of Mubarak's rule. But, really what's so wrong with that? What makes the USA the most qualified consultant on what is and what is not the right political system for any country? Just as the USA caused the downfall of Saddam Hussein under the guise of possession of weapons of mass destruction, fanned enmity between the Sunnis and the Shia and made suicide bombing a daily occurrence, it is now trying to do the same with Egypt. If one looks around the world to see who of all the countries is the biggest trouble-maker you do not need to look far. The US innate political policy is one of making countries weak through fear-mongering and encouraging strife in countries, between countries and within and between regions so that they become strong as these countries become weak, besides the conspiracy of weakening countries' currencies through the coordinated actions of various international bodies under their influence.
Candice Marei
Naïve perhaps
Sir-- As naïve as I may be, I agree with those who see events in Egypt as essentially caused by the unbridled force of pent-up rage of an entire generation of Egyptians and who hold common aspirations that are solidly secular and middle class with special admiration for Western European social institutions.
Ideally some suggest that this test-tube revolution follows the smooth non-violent course of the former East Germany. I fear a more pertinent historical similarity is the Paris Commune of 1871 that administered Paris for a two-month period from 18 March to 28 May of that year.
The focal attention of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations were unwavering, incessant, pitched and prolonged. But what's the best way to avoid disappointment? Is it insensitive to think that this is just a huge fantasy camp? Is it time to turn the Pyramids on their heads? The Egyptian people are smart enough to know that the entire regime must be dismantled.
I offer four additional points for consideration:
- Who will appoint the new Egyptian leadership (the Egyptian people or the CIA)?
- What -- very precisely -- will the mandate for this new leadership look like?
- Is the mandate more illusive to imagine than achieve?
- What means or tools will the people have to monitor and measure the success of their mandate?
Troy Harris
Kuala Lumpur
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