Sunday, June 17, 2007
Mubarak's Egypt: Zero Tolerance for Opposition
Ayman Nour is still languishing in jail, since he was imprisoned in January 2005. His crime? His popularity threatened to eclipse Mubarak in the country's 2005 elections. Geez, if it were that easy, why didn't we think of something like this back in 2000?
His chances were estimated at about 30%, which really would not constitute a threat, but the perception of his popularity seemed to be more in question than the reality itself. And what of the continuity of the Mubarak legacy, as in son Gamal Mubarak?
Though there have been continuous crackdowns on fledgling voices for change, and occasional noises from the U.S. charging that Egypt needs to be more democratic, there is little doubt that Mr. Mubarak has been running a tight ship for the last quarter century. Frankly, I think anyone whose tenure exceeds six years needs a vigorous dusting, a scrubbing with bleach and/or ammonia and a return to the general population with rose water filled blessings.
The June 15th issue of the New York Times had this headline on page A6:"Arrests in Egypt Point Toward a Crackdown". Before reading the article, I was a bit puzzled by the words point towards a crackdown. Is someone sleeping on the Editor's desk over there or what? Let's wake these folks up with some events which precede the story behind Abdellatif Muhammed Said's arrest, at the bright hour of 2:00am, June 14th.
Last Wednesday, an Al Jazeera TV journalist was jailed for supposedly fabricating torture scenes slated for a documentary.
Human Rights Watch stated that in the whole of last year, over 1,000 activists of the Muslim Brotherhood had been arrested.
Abdel Monem Mahmoud, an apparent champion of free speech and blogger, reported having been tortured in 2003 while in Egyptian custody. A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he encouraged others to use the internet as a tool against totalitarianim. Guess where he's been since May 2007? The infamous Tora Prison in Egypt.
In February of this year, after insulting King Mubarak on his blog, Abdel Kareem Nabil, who attended reknown Al Azhar University, landed in jail where he is expected to serve for four years.
The latest victim if this very obvious crackdown, is none other than the very popular Sandmonkey, whose blog most of us read and followed with great interest. Worst than being jailed, he just stopped posting after realizing that he might be under surveillance.
But isn't this Al Azhar University the seat for learning? And isn't learning about understanding, tolerance, opening minds, and forming future leaders? Damn it Egypt, you used to get it, but now, you really are acting stupid. Look what happens with your disenchanted youth, take someone like...Mohammed Atta!!?You really don't get it anymore. And I do wish that the US would get pissed enough to cancel the billions in aid they send you yearly.
Like in all the countries in the region, Egypt has embraced the stance of zero tolerance. Is it time to re-examine these policies, and perhaps come to the aid of those human rights groups which still exist within the country?