Saturday, October 17, 2009

Egypt Opposition United against Mubarak Junior

By: Dalia Ziada

CAIRO: Since his unexpected early release in February 2009 for medical reasons, Dr. Ayman Nour, founder of El-Ghad party and former presidential candidate is acting like a thorn in the side of the regime. Since March, he has visited tens of cities in 17 governorates all over Egypt to engage directly with grassroots audiences. In April, he participated in the April 6 strikes by announcing the Cairo Declaration for the first time. The main demands on the declaration are amending the constitution, fair democratic elections and holding corrupt officials responsible. Every Wednesday he holds a an open-to-all seminar on current social, political and economic problems of interest to the Egyptian public at the conference room of his Nour Cultural Center in the popular neighborhood of Bab al-Sha’eria in Cairo.

Today, October 14, with the help of his gang of outstanding young activists with many talents and great enthusiasm, he will launch the “Egyptian Campaign against Presidential Succession.” The one name of the new campaign is “Mayahkomsh” (i.e. He is not going to rule). In selecting this name, the organizers of the campaign are inspired by the infamous popular song created by Gamal Mubarak supporters two months ago. The song “Tayyeb Leah mayakomsh” (i.e. This is Why He Should Rule!) praises Mubarak and asserts that he is best fit for the presidential seat because he learned from his father how to run the country.

According to Ayman Nour, this campaign “is not about Gamal himself, but it is an attempt to avoid the potential of bringing someone to power despite the will of the people.” The main objectives are similar to those announced at the Cairo Declaration. Yet, it is to be very critical in filtering the true and false assumptions within Egyptian opposition groups. In other words, this campaign will drop the masks of opposition leaders’ and activists’ who are indirectly controlled by the government to enhance the presidential succession project. On the other hand, it will give an opportunity to sincere opposition groups, civil rights advocates, intellectuals, and political parties to unify and organize themselves again in face of all forms of corruption, especially the succession of the inexperienced son to his elderly father, who has been ruling the country for 29 years.

To ensure the success of the event, Nour himself took on the responsibility of inviting the leaders of different political parties and influential opposition groups. For two weeks now, he has visited and personally invited leaders of the el-Wafd Party, Nasserist Party, Tagama’a, al-Wasat, Karama Party, al-Gabha Party, el-Eslah wa el-Tanmia, etc. He also visited the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mahdy Akef, and other intellectuals and writers like Mohamed Hasanien Heikal, Amr El-Shobaky, as well as leaders of grassroots movements like Kefaya. Most of the invitees welcomed Nour’s invitation and announced their immediate participation into the campaign. Some postponed their final approval for some unknown and mysterious reasons, and some others like Mohamed Hasannien Hiekal refused altogether.

The fact that this campaign is not just another weak political campaign that might fall because of the historical division of opposition groups, the regime is shaking and deeply worried. One sign of this discomfort among regime supporters and Gamal Mubarak associates is that the National Democratic Party youth launched a campaign to confront Nour’s campaign. They called it “The National Campaign to Support Gamal Mubarak.” The slogan of the campaign, according to their Facebook group is “No for Nour … No for the Muslim Brotherhood.” The main objective of their campaign is merely proving that Ayman Nour and the MB are both liars and corrupt and thus “the only one who deserves the presidential seat after Mubarak is his son Mr. Gamal.”

As an interesting consequence, the first media outlet to cover the news of the new pro-Gamal group is “Al-Raie El-Horr” (i.e. Free Voice) website. One of the co-editors of the website is a policeman who puts his rank and name on the top of the homepage: Colonel Mohamed Khattab.

Another humorous reaction was the very strange news story published in al-Youm al-Saba’a newspaper yesterday. The news story mentioned, “coordination between Muslim Brotherhood and Ayman Nour is against the rules of Islam.” They wrote some verses from the Qur’an about God’s punishment to those who cooperate with disbelievers and hypocrites who seek to disturb the nation.

Again, the regime supporters are playing on Egyptian’s religious sympathies to reach their goals. What does Islam have to do with this political competition?

The independent daily al-Masry al-Youm participated in the game, too. Yesterday, only one day before the founding conference of “Mayahkomsh,” the newspaper published a news story about the prospected event by emphasizing that the venue is a “famous hotel in downtown Cairo.” This caused the organizers of the campaign to double their efforts by re-contacting all invitees again to say that daily was trying to mislead the participants and take them to a different location other than the headquarters of the el-Ghad party, which is the actual venue of the founding conference.

Tonight (October 14th), at 7pm, in Talaat Harb Square, in the heart of the capital, the new campaign against presidential succession will be announced. Hopefully, the NDP and Gamal supporters will not take any irrational action to make it fail. Everything is expected and nothing is guaranteed.