Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Something in the smile

Doaa El-Bey examines what Egypt’s former president was trying to say from behind bars, while Gamal Nkrumah, from Khartoum, reviews the tribal factor in Arab politics

Something in the smile
Something in the smile
Al-Ahram Weekly

Protests and general disorder overwhelmed Egypt this week. As Al-Tahrir put it: ‘Drivers of white taxis obstruct 6 October flyover, workers at [state TV building] Maspero protest against Brotherhoodising Ministry of Information and workers in electricity plant in Ataqa close its doors’.

However, the retrial of Hosni Mubarak was the event that captured the most attention of newspapers and commentators.

Al-Ahram on Monday had ‘Anger in Shura because Mubarak remains in Maadi Hospital’. Al-Wafd stated ‘Mubarak will not return home today’ and Al-Youm Al-Sabei asked whether Mubarak in detention is smiling at us or about us.

Al-Shorouk on Sunday bannered ‘Trial of the century awaits new judge’. Al-Watan described Mubarak as the Pharaoh and quoted him as saying to the people ‘congratulations for having Morsi’ while smiling. Al-Gomhuriya wrote ‘Mubarak followers glorify him and the families of the martyrs call for his execution’.

Emadeddin Hussein wrote that Mubarak smiled during his trial and waved to his followers as if he were still the president.

Hussein expressed his belief that that smile was a cause of concern for all those who genuinely believed in the revolution. It should have also been a reason for all these powers to unite as they united from 25 January to 11 February 2011 until they forced Mubarak to step down.

However, Hussein recalled that the partners in the revolution differed for various reasons and that November’s catastrophic constitutional declaration came to dash any hopes of agreement among the opposition and provided a kiss of life for Mubarak’s followers and counter-revolutionary powers.

“Mubarak would not have smiled had he not realised that Egypt now is different from Egypt on 11 February,” Hussein wrote in the independent daily Al-Shorouk.

Hussein stated that the president and his group together with the opposition are responsible for that outcome: the former by trying to monopolise rather than participate with the other political parties and the latter by failing to provide an alternative to the present regime.

Hussein summed up his regular column by stating that the revolution had suffered a setback, and as a result Mubarak smiled happily.

Ibrahim Mansour wondered in the independent daily Al-Tahrir whether Morsi was able to sleep on the night he saw Mubarak waving to the people in his retrial.

Mansour asked whether Morsi realised the significance of his victorious smile or whether he is waiting for instructions from his group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

The chaos that Mubarak predicted, Mansour wrote, is there, crimes have spread, despotism reigns and the Muslim Brotherhood and their representatives in the presidential palace are following Mubarak’s school of obstinacy and disregard for the demands of the people and the revolution.

Morsi, he added, showed an utter failure in running the country, in writing the constitution and in conducting free elections. As a result, a sectarian constitution was passed, election rigging continues, the country is suffering from an economic crisis and the regime’s disastrous policies will lead to the destruction of the country.

“Mubarak, in a previous case, asked the investigator to write whatever the authority asked him to write. He said: people know the truth anyway.” Nevertheless, he concluded, Morsi slept on that night because he is thick-skinned.

Sectarian violence is still a serious cause of concern. Abdel-Nasser Abdallah wrote that ever since the Islamic army headed by Amr Ibn Al-Aas opened Egypt, Muslims and Christians have lived together in peace.

Thus, Abdallah considered the Al-Khosous events that took the life of Muslims and Christians as a foreign phenomenon Egyptians have not known.

He said sectarian strife started in the mid 1970s in Al-Zawya Al-Hamra. Ever since, Egypt witnessed a series of sectarian incidents, the worst of which was the bomb explosion of Al-Qidisayn (Two Saints) Church in Alexandria at the tail end of 2010 which killed 20 people and more recently Khosous incident which killed five people and the clashes that followed in front of the Coptic Cathedral.

These incidents, Abdallah explained, emphasised that there has been a conspiracy concocted against Egypt in order to thwart the revolution and reinstate corruption.

“Khosous will not be the last incident in the chain of conspiracies against Egypt. Thus the regime should deal with the incident seriously and with transparency. No need to conceal the facts from the people like the old regime used to do,” Abdallah wrote in the official daily Al-Gomhuriya.

Writers and political commentators wondered why the government headed by Hisham Kandil has not been changed although it has hardly achieved anything ever since it came to office.

Nasser Fayyad wrote that Kandil is racing against time to prove that he is still the best to head the government. He realised, nine months after taking office, that most political powers and the street oppose him and that he has no popular or political support since the only person who supports him is the president.

He failed to follow his predecessor Kamal Al-Ganzouri, Fayyad added in the daily Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of the opposition Wafd Party, in implementing an austerity programme that contributed in saving some LE23 billion in seven months.

Kandil did not take any austerity measures, Fayyad added. Moreover, he took some LE5 billion from Qatar and Libya and did not tell the public what was spent with the money.

While Fayyad reviewed the performance of Kandil’s government and how it is detached from the people demands and worries, he could not help but wonder why Kandil’s government has not been changed, what are its achievements, what are the initiatives its head took to achieve national détente and how the presidency has benefited from his presence.

Morsi scrapped all legal complaints against journalists submitted to the prosecutor-general that insulted the president. Makram Mohamed Ahmed hailed the decision as a good step that could pave the way for correcting the relationship between the president and journalists and guaranteeing freedom of expression.

However, Mohamed Ahmed wrote, we do not know whether the decision means ending all the investigations that the prosecution has already started, including the investigation held with the satirist TV host Bassem Youssef.

Mohamed Ahmed said that step loses its value unless it is part of a comprehensive vision to improve the atmosphere in which journalists work and to drop all the measures added to the constitution and law which put restrictions on journalists.

He named Al-Hesba lawsuits as an example of a measure that needs to be dropped because it is being used by lawyers from the Freedom and Justice Party to restrict freedom of expression.

“As long as there are Hesba lawsuits, it is difficult to talk about freedom of opinion, expression or scientific research. Morsi’s step is a good gesture, but it is still not enough to preserve these freedoms,” Mohamed Ahmed wrote in the official daily Al-Ahram.


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