Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egyptians unleash their Pent-up Fury

January 29, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

The Western press has been describing the Egyptian situation as discontent and unrest. It is a blatant mischaracterization of a cataclysm that heralds a revolution a la the French Revolution of 1789. If we can use the mild superlatives to sketch the enormity of this scenario, we can employ such terms as uprising, tumult, revolt, and a rebellion. This uprising is mounted against a discredited and odious system spawned by a civilian tyrant still impervious to the intensity of the conflagration that has engulfed the entire length and breadth of Egypt; between the lower and the Upper Egypt.
Egyptians tend to be revolutionaries as the history of this country bears out. It was some three thousand years ago that driven by hunger, the Egyptians rose in revolt against a powerful Pharaoh. They ransacked his palace, forced the elite and the privileged members of the then society to flee. They looted the food grain stocks and treasury. The time line between that revolt and the ongoing revolution against Hosni Mubarak, a kind of reincarnated Pharaoh, disappears because of the similarity of the outrage.
Hosni Mubarak, by profession is a journalist and a legatee of the Anwar Sadat’s legacy of reconciliation with Israel and subservience to their common mentor, the United States of America. He heads a regime that, on the face, looks democratic. But factually it is a controlled version of democracy spawned through rigging of ballot, spying over the people, promulgation of coercive laws, and state terror perpetrated through police and intelligence network.
The state of emergency means that the country is in a situation of war and faced with extreme danger to its survival. Under that state of emergency, the government has the right to arrest the people for any or no reason, and keep them in prisons without trials for any length of time. Under the cover of this draconian law, the police powers can be extended, constitutional rights abrogated, and censorship legalized.
One can simply imagine how insidious, unrepresentative and inhuman regime of Hosni Mubarik is that since 1981, the year he succeeded the slain Anwar Sadat, he never lifted the state of emergency. Egypt has remained under the diabolic Emergency Law since 1967, the year of war between Egypt and Israel.
During the despotic regime of Hosni Mubarak, until 1994, some 17,000 people were detained under the emergency law, while the number of political captives and prisoners of conscience was reported to be around 30,000.
The December 2010 parliamentary elections in Egypt were entirely farcical. As a result of preemptive media crackdown, mass arrests and banning of the opposition candidates, and unabashed rigging, the ruling party NDP won the elections with thumping majority. Such is the nature of state highhandedness in Egypt.
The trapping and addiction of power have stunted the ability of Hosni Mubarak to comprehend the gravity of the situation turning fiercer by the hours. All that he has been able to do so far is to appoint a vice president who is his chief of intelligence. This is such a ridiculously cosmetic measure as to bring more scorn and resistance to him. In these four days innumerable protesters as well as riot police members have either died or injured and there no let up in this escalating tally of the fatalities
The Tunisian earth shaking protests motivated the Egypt’s suppressed people to come out in the streets. Thus the historic “Day of Anger” began on Janaury25. In four day since the eruption of this revolution, countless officials buildings have been burnt, the curfew defied, the police forced to beat a retreat and army to remain docile in face of the unprecedented violence and fury unleashed by the unchained mammoth crowds of Egyptians united under one slogan, “exit of Hosni Mubarak”
Besides, scant socio-political freedom, Egypt suffers from chronic poverty with 40 percent of families living on a paltry income of roughly US $2 day. Egypt ranks 89th as the most corrupt country among 178 countries.
The Egyptian nation’s violent outburst reflects the cumulative backlash to the police and intelligence’s brutalities, the prolonged state of emergency, absence of free elections, unbridled corruption, virtual ban on the freedom of speech, acute unemployment, poor wages, insufficient housing, ever soaring food price, galloping inflation, and poor living conditions.
The redeeming signpost of this historic revolution is that for the first time, Egyptians from different socio-economic backgrounds and faiths have joined to knock down an odious and notoriously anti -people regime run by a person utterly insensitive to the appalling plight of his own people all these years.
President Obama’s and for that matter the American administration’s response to this grass root revolution has been rational and realistic. President Obama’s has impressed upon the besieged Egyptians president to unfurl immediately the socio-economic and political reforms that have been neglected under his rule for so long.
Whether Mubarak heeds a timely or sane advice of his mentor, would be known soon. But even if Mubarak announces the stalled reforms that meet the rioters’ demands, he cannot stay in power as the first and foremost demand of the raging protestors is his ouster. There is a very slim possibility that a totally weakened, humiliated, discredited and disgraced Egyptian president can stem or stop the tide of revenge and rebellion against his barbaric rule sustained by bayonet and black inhuman laws.
But the man among the Arab dynastic regimes who came to his support is King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It is shameful and outrageous to see Saudi king decrying and condemning the Egyptian people struggling for their robbed rights by a person who ruled his country like a new born Pharaoh and a dictator with absolute powers.
The king himself lording over a family kingdom, is siding with a person who kept his marvelous country on the tenterhooks of stagnation through political repression, a fraudulent democratic order, draconian laws, police brutality and no less the abominable cronyism for the tormenters of the Arab people. Egypt, a leading Arab country with a glorious and rich heritage has been reeling under an exceptionally alienated, intimidating and corrupt regime run by a myopic head of state like a miniature of a ruthless Pol Pot of Cambodia.
Egypt has been surviving on the alms of the United States and the remittances of her expatriate labor force. One cannot see any major and notable reform that was put in place for the economic stability, social uplift of its people or for genuine representative and accountable system of governance.
Hosni Mubarak has no option but to srurender to the will of people. The brutal tactics by his army and police have failed to subdue the swelling crowds of fury- charged Egyptians. He will have to leave his country like Ali of Tunisia and find protection under the wings of a dynastic religious potentate king Abdullah, who is also destined to meet his ignoble end in the predictable future.
Similar horrific destiny would befall to the hereditary dispensations ruling their hapless people in a fashion as if the world was still existing in the mediaeval ages. The days of these outposts of family dynasties and hereditary autocracies are certainly numbered. No matter how stubbornly they resist, they cannot stop the inevitable.
The writer is a Dallas-based journalist and a former diplomat. Email: qureshisa2003@
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