February 3, 2011

What is a country without its people

    Thursday, February 03, 2011   No comments

[A doctor stitches the head of an eleven-year-old boy who had been hit by a stone thrown by a supporter of President Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir Square on February 3, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt.]


The Egyptian authoritarian thinks that he is the person keeping the country from falling into chaos. He does not seem to conceive of the possibility that his presence is what is causing chaos. Furthermore, when he was asked about Egyptians’ view of him in the past ten days he replied, "I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt." Which begs the question, what is Egypt without its people?

Egyptian leaders cannot back peddle fast enough to repair the damage they have caused in the last 30 years or more. Today, for instance, Vice President Omar Suleiman said that the Muslim Brethren, Egypt's most organized opposition movement, had been invited to meet with the new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties. That, too, begs the question, what has changed in the past ten days to make a previously banned, maligned, brutalized, marginalized, and persecuted group to render it mainstream enough in the eyes of the regime? Or is he acknowledging that the Muslim Brethrens have been illegally and immorally isolated and persecuted?

Mubarak’s statement on Wednesday, "this is my country. This is where I lived, I fought and defended its land, sovereignty and interests, and I will die on its soil," is indicative that he would rather die in Egypt than join Ben Ali in Arabia. Mubarak is what he is, stubborn, arrogant, and out of touch with reality. But he is willing to make a deal with the devil to get what he wants and what he wants is to stay in Egypt and not face criminal charges for torture, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, corruption, and murder. It is safe to say that Mubarak will either leave to the grave or to prison. With his stubbornness, he limited his options to a military coup after which officers would arrest him and put him on trial or bring about a civil war that will split the army and the people bringing an end to his life in a violent way.

Millions of people are asking him to step down. That is in itself Egypt telling him that it does not want him anymore. In fact, the demonstrators’ restraint in the face of attacks by his thugs and provocation by his supporters show the level of civility and commitment to peaceful change on the part of the opposition. He and his regime are the ones who have used, are using, and will continue to use violence in the name of public order and national security; but in reality for preserving their rule and their interests.

* Professor Souaiaia, teaches classes in the department of Religious Studies, International Programs, and College of Law at the University of Iowa. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the University or any other organization with which he is affiliated.


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