Spirit of their Dream

Issue section: 
(298)

Many questions were raised in my mind when I read Phil Marshall's article 'Egypt: Enough is Enough' (May SR).

As an Egyptian, opposing Mubarak's dictatorship, I always wondered, despite the historical relationship with Egypt, why has Europe withdrawn from the scene, abandoning it totally to American dominance? How can the main influential European countries be driven into supporting the Egyptian people's struggle, against the US-supported dictator regime?

Although the old European colonialism is the first bitter historical fact that arises in the mind while discussing the modern European position towards Egypt, there is another side of Europe. In Egypt we read with huge admiration about the French Revolution, and the heritage of democracy in Britain. Therefore, informed Egyptian people consider the intellectual face of European history as a spirit of their dream to overcome their own dark age.

A dictatorial regime controls the country. Economic reform has failed, with its privatisations resulting in widespread poverty, nepotism and injustice. Add to that high rates of illiteracy, the hypocrisy of the governmental media, the weakness of civil society and state suppression of the opposition parties.

But the hope of changing this has flourished since last December, when the Egyptian movement for change, known as 'kifaya' (enough), made the first real move against Mubarak's regime. Most of those who founded this movement are under 40 years old, and middle class.

The aspiration to build a democratic country and a secular society is driving them to challenge the police in the streets. In the six months since, the whole scene in Egypt has changed. The despairing and disappointed Egyptian people have begun to show, gradually, a sympathy with those who dare to say no loudly. Now the movement is well known internationally.

But the main problem is American interference, which Egyptian people deplore, whether this interference is by supporting the opposition or Mubarak. US policy has a very bad reputation in the Egyptian public consciousness, as an arrogant imperialist power. What happened in Iraq is always present in the mind.

So, despite kifaya needing international support for its struggle against Mubarak's regime, it is very sensitive to not appear to be an American supported movement. Egyptians believe that the US is hesitating about supporting real political reform in Egypt, and if Bush needs Mubarak to help in striking Syria in the next few months, he will ignore opposition hopes.

We need more support from the European civil organisations, such as pressing their governments to firmly condemn the regime's violence, declaring a vocal support to the dream of change in Egypt, and explaining the importance of real democratic reform in Egypt. Ending the deep corruption in Egypt is helpful, not only for Egyptian people, but also for the security of Europe.

Howayda Taha
Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper, Qatar