No one can fail to be moved by the sight of young, educated men and women demonstrating in Cairo’s Freedom Square for a better future. When so many Arab republics allow their presidents free rein to hold onto their positions indefinitely and groom their sons to take over as though they are monarchs, it’s no wonder that people all over North Africa and the #Middle_East are demanding change.
That said, there is a fine line between freedom and anarchy and, frankly, the images on our television screens point to the latter.
#Egypt has become a lawless land. Thugs are torching historic buildings, businesses and shopping centres. Thieves are on the prowl forcing Egyptian families to barricade themselves in their homes. Foreigners are leaving in droves. The once peaceful Egyptians are beating one another to death. The economy is being decimated by the day.
This is not the #Egypt I know and love. Tragically, there may be much worse to come. There’s a saying, “Be careful what you wish for. It may just happen.”
It’s true that the aging President Mubarak has made mistakes in recent times and has been divorced from the aspirations of the street. Let’s not forget that he was head of the Air Force that regained #Egypt’s dignity during its 1973 conflict with Israel.
As President, he has maintained #Egypt’s stability and cemented relations with the international community. He has improved infrastructure, cultivated a climate for foreign investment and presided over a growing economy. That’s why I was disgusted to see Egyptians hanging effigies of their president and waving shoes at his image. Hosni Mubarak, for all his faults, is a patriot and wants to die on the soil of #Egypt.
Moreover, he immediately responded to protestors’ demands by sacking his cabinet and promising that neither he nor his son will stand during upcoming presidential elections.
For the first time, he has appointed a Vice-President and instructed his new government to overhaul elements of the constitution, talk to opposition figures and ensure that university leavers can find employment.
At the same time, the former Minister of the Interior, responsible for police brutality, along with the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Housing, believed to be corrupt, have been barred from travelling and their bank accounts frozen.
It is my belief that President Mubarak wasn’t aware that people around him were abusing their power to line their pockets. I blame those closest to him for their cowardice in failing to inform him about corrupt practices and police brutality.
He must have been deeply hurt to suddenly find himself as an object of hate. I don’t know whether the makers of the Egyptian movie “The President’s Chef” had insider knowledge but the president’s isolation from the real world orchestrated by his aides was portrayed in that film.
The initial demands of the core demonstrators have all been fulfilled but the Facebook/Twitter movement has been hijacked by agenda-led, self-interested individuals and parties – in some cases, sponsored by foreign powers.
The hijackers are nothing more than opportunists seeking power. They are out to humiliate President Mubarak. They want to see him flying around the world seeking a country prepared to take him in like the Shah of Iran and, more recently, Tunisia’s former President Ben Ali. It’s no wonder that Mubarak rejects such degrading banishment.
He has admitted to ABC News that he is “fed up” of being president but fears that his exit will hurl #Egypt into chaos. He wants to complete his term so as to supervise free and fair elections and an orderly hand-over of power.
But the hijackers are refusing even these unprecedented concessions and many insist they will only engage in dialogue with the Vice-President when Mubarak has gone. That condition is totally unreasonable when even a sacked employee usually gets one month to clear his desk.
More crucially, Egyptians need time to consider who comes next when people like ElBaradei, who’s lived abroad for 20 years, and the Ghad Party’s Ayman Nour have little grassroots support. The only organised opposition party is the banned Muslim Brotherhood, which joined the tail end of the demonstrations, and is since playing a clever game by announcing it will not field a presidential candidate and is content to coalesce being secularists. That’s now, but what about down the road?
Those people fund Hamas, have admitted they want Sharia law and support an Islamic Caliphate. They should not be allowed to participate in any election. I am also concerned that #Egypt will fall victim to mob rule in the future now that the crowds have tasted success and I’m worried that the entire region will suffer from the domino effect of this contagion.
I’m particularly surprised at the duplicity of the #Obama administration which is now insisting on President Mubarak’s swift departure when he has always been Washington’s obliging friend. Mubarak is right to say President #Obama doesn’t understand #Egypt or the implications of his hasty removal. There is a cautionary lesson to be drawn from Saddam’s ousting. True, he was a strongman, but he united all Iraqis under one flag and ensured strict law and order. Democracy is an admirable goal, but it cannot be instituted in one day and one night in a state that has never known it.
I admire President #Obama but the US would be better served if he stayed out of internal Arab politics and concentrated on resolving the problems of those in his own country without homes and living on food stamps as well as the fall-out from his predecessor’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
We don’t want #Egypt to end up like fundamentalist Iran or Iraq that was once the Cradle of Civilisation and is now the Cradle of Terrorism. And we don’t want #Egypt to mirror Lebanon and end-up in bloody civil war. And we certainly don’t want every government in the region to be held to ransom by the mob.
Finally, I would say this to the Egyptians on the squares:
Please go home before you unwittingly destroy your country’s economy, divide its people and tarnish its reputation forever. You’ve had your say, the state has responded and now you should exercise patience. Give your President a chance to restore #Egypt’s dignity and stability while it’s still possible to do so. God bless you all!