Forgive them both
Sir-- Azmi Ashour is quite right in his equitable equation to ban both NDP members as well as Islamists from practising their political rights ('Why not apply NDP ban to Islamists too?' 20-26 October Al-Ahram Weekly).
Indeed, Islamists hailed a contracted form of Islam in appearance and continued to brainwash us with slogans, attitudes and convictions that no longer are proper to the style of life we lead. Moreover, they represented a great threat to national security in their adaptation to codes of conduct and beliefs of other -- albeit neighbouring and distant Muslim communities.
Similarly, the NDP tried and succeeded by means of its divide and conquer policy in manipulating the political arena and exclusively reshaping the political mindset for decades. Therefore, it managed to jeopardise the nation's security through its unilateral actions that conformed to foreign agendas in order to stabilise its grip on power and serve its long-lasting system. In fact, such policies were deemed as non-conferment with the public's will and they turned a deaf ear to the sensible voices that urged the leaders of the NDP to listen to the voice of the street in a way described as "political stupidity".
In summary, both political powers, the NDP and the Islamists, have done a good deal of harm to Egypt and Egyptians. But excluding them from political life would be a mistake not less grave as their mistakes against us in the past. Let us forgive them and open a clean slate and benefit from the errors of the past in order to draw a bright picture of the Egypt we aspire, in which all political shades work for the greater good and for the sake of Egypt.
Buffett and the chain letter
Sir-- Re 'American crisis politics' (27 October-2 November, Al-Ahram Weekly) the chain letter recommending a constitutional amendment is a fraud which appropriated an off-hand comment from Buffett in the media about passing a law, not a constitutional amendment. The chain letter even misspells Buffett's name. The chain letter is a dumb proposal because none of its recommendations requires a constitutional amendment and none addresses the key issue of money in politics. It is a diversion from valid strategy, to something that is useless and impossible in order to waste people's time. The widespread presence of this chain letter on the Internet is a worrisome sign of widespread susceptibility to con artists and the lack of knowledgeable leadership directing attention towards strategies that actually can work.
Dilemma of Egyptians abroad
Sir-- There are around seven to eight million Egyptians living abroad. The remittances of Egyptians abroad is an important asset to the economy of Egypt yet they are still denied voting in elections in the country.
The issue of being able to vote from abroad has been a losing battle for years. Early in April, as part of amendments to the political participation law, the cabinet announced that Egyptians living overseas would be allowed to vote in presidential elections and public referendums at Egyptian consulates. Since then, no serious steps have been taken towards the implementation of this announcement. While the dates of the parliamentary elections are now determined, still the date of the presidential elections to be confirmed and the exact fate of the votes of Egyptians living abroad is yet to be determined.
While expatriates may comprise nearly 10 per cent of the nation's total population, they do not necessarily represent a single voting bloc. Votes from abroad, I feel, are not going to have a noticeable impact on the results as they will only reflect the same differences as Egyptian society at home.
One may judge that people living in the Gulf are more likely to be influenced by the more conservative ideologies such as Wahhabism. In Western countries, I believe that about half of the expatriates are religiously conservative and the rest hold more liberal or secular views.
Even setting aside religion, one would be cautious against making assumptions about the political views of expatriates. Egyptians abroad sometimes tend to be more conservative than the ones who live in the country, simply because a significant proportion of them, especially old generations, are living in a time capsule from the time they left Egypt.
With respect to enabling Egyptians abroad to vote in the parliamentary elections, I think that it won't be possible due to the challenges of assigning them to geographical electoral districts. They might not have residency in Egypt and even if they do, they won't benefit from electing a person. Voting abroad is a right but only when the country is only one electoral circle, which is the case in the presidential elections.
Still, voting is a right, not a gift from the ruling regime, and Egyptians abroad should not be denied enjoying their rights.