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Who do we support in Egypt?

Shouldn't be a very tough question, although the two most logical answers both have huge problems associated with them. We can either back the chosen puppet of the disgraced regime, specifically its spymaster who ran the organs of state oppression, or we can back the will of the people as expressed by mostly peaceful demonstrations and a desire for actual democracy.

The reason to back Sulemain is stability, that buzzword for suppression of opposition by force. We have had 30 years of this and if we could get another 30 it might be worth considering, but we can't and we shouldn't want to anyhow. The Middle East has had plenty of flash points since World War II and crossing Egypt off the list was a huge factor in keeping any flare ups from consuming the region. But is managing dictators the best way to provide long term stability? You can make a strong case saying yes from a purely pragmatic perspective. But let me re-phrase the question. Do we want to be seen publicly propping up a discredited regime against the expressed will of the country's people? Not if we ever want to change the paradigm.

The concern about throwing our support behind the push for actual elections is two-fold. First that the Muslim Brotherhood, a reprehensible Islamist terror outfit, will dominate elections as they are the only opposition group currently organized at all, and second that failing to hold Mubarak's hand during his death throes will send the wrong message to our other pseudo-allies among the strong men in the region.

The Muslim Brotherhood is going to have a role in whatever government follows Mubarak, period. The question is when do we acknowledge that and start fighting their influence. There are too many Islamists in Egypt to sideline them absent a replacment strong man, and even under Mubarak they managed to win 25% of the vote despite being banned by law. So they are in play. Our best bet is to be supporting the very folks currently in Tahrir Square asking for anyone to just listen to their own words.

We the protesters who have currently been in a sit-in at Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo since January 25, 2011 strongly condemn the brutal attack carried out by the governing National Democratic Party's (NDP) mercenaries at our location on Wednesday, February 2, under the guise of a "rally" in support of President Mubarak. This attack has continued on Thursday, February 3. We regret that some young people have joined these thugs and criminals, whom the NDP is accustomed to hiring during elections, to march them off after spreading several falsehoods circulated by the regime’s media about us and our goals. These goals that aim at changing the political system into one that guarantees freedom, dignity and social justice to all citizens are also the goals of the youth. Therefore we want to clarify the following.

 

Firstly, we are a group of young Muslim and Christian Egyptians; the overwhelming majority of us does not belong to political parties and have no previous political activism. Our movement involves the elderly and children, peasants, workers, professionals, students and pensioners. Our movement cannot be classified as "paid for" or "directed by" a limited few because it has attracted millions who responded to its call of removing the regime. People joined us last Tuesday in Cairo and other governorates in a scene that witnessed not one case of violence, assault on property or harassment of anyone.

Secondly, our movement is accused of being funded from abroad, supported by the United States, as being instigated by Hamas, as under the leadership of the president of the National Assembly for change (Mohamed El-Baradei) and, last but not least, as directed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many accusations like these prove to be false. The protesters are all Egyptians who have clear and specific national objectives. The protesters have no weapons or foreign equipment as claimed by instigators. The broad positive response of the people to our movement's goals reveals that these are the goals of the Egyptian masses in general, not any internal or external faction or entity.

Thirdly, the regime and its paid media falsely blame us, young demonstrators, for the tension and instability in the streets of Egypt in recent days and therefore damaging our nation's interests and security. Our answer to them is: It is not the peaceful protesters who released the criminal offenders from prison onto the unguarded streets to practice looting and plundering. It is not the peaceful protesters who have imposed a curfew starting at 3 o'clock PM. It is not the peaceful protesters who have stopped the work in banks, bakeries and gas stations. When the protesters organized the one-million demonstration it came up in the most magnificent and organized form and ended peacefully. It is not the protestors who killed 300 people, some with live ammunition, and wounding more than 2,000 people in the last few days.

Fourthly, President Mubarak came out on Tuesday to announce that he will not stand in the upcoming presidential election and that he will modify two articles in the Constitution, and engage in dialogue with the opposition. However, the State media has attacked us when we refused his "concession" and decided to go on with our movement. Our demand that Mubarak steps down immediately is not a personal matter, but we have clear reasons for it which include:

  • His promise not to run again is not new. He promised when he came to power in 1981 that he will not run for more than two legislatures but he continued for more than 30 years.
  • His speech did not put any collateral for not nominating his son "Gamal", who remains until now a member of the ruling party, and can stand for election that will not be under judicial supervision since he ignored any reference to the amendment of Article 88 of the Constitution.
  • He also considered our movement a "plot directed by a force" that works against the interests of the nation as if responding to the demands of the public is a "shame" or "humiliation".
  • As regards to his promise of conducting a dialogue with the opposition, we know how many times over the past years the regime claimed this and ended up with enforcing the narrow interests of the Mubarak State and the few people who control it.

And the events of Wednesday proved our stand is vindicated. While the President was giving his promises, the leaders of his regime were organizing (along with paid thugs and wanted criminals equipped with swords, knives and Molotov cocktails) a brutal plot to attack us in Tahrir Square. Those thugs and criminals were accompanied by NDP members who fired machine guns on unarmed protesters who were trapped on the square, killing at least 7 and wounding hundreds of us critically. This was done in order to end our peaceful national popular movement and preserve the status quo.

Our movement is Egyptian - Our movement is legitimate - Our movement is continuing

The Youth of the Tahrir Square sit-in

This does not sound like an Islamist dominated revolution to me. Even if the MB is successful and can somehow cobble together a coalition to rule, we should be working with all the groups who oppose theocratic rule. By supporting them we help create an opposition based on secular ideals about freedom and liberty. We also show that we truly believe in the dignity of all people. If we want them to be able to win the war for the minds of the Egyptian people, they need help. The sooner we start helping them, the sooner they can try to run their own country.

 

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