What Lies Ahead for Egypt?

Interview With Editor of «Democracy Review»

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By Emile Ameen

CAIRO, Egypt, FEB. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As the future of Egypt hangs in the balance, the nation’s Christians might be worried that things can only get worse for them.

But according to one political scientist, fears of a future Islamist Egyptian state are undermined with a simple look at the protestors: their trendy clothing and the faces of «emancipated young women.»

ZENIT met in Cairo with Hala Mustafa, editor-in-chief of «Democracy Review,» a magazine published by the Al-Ahram Foundation. An expert in political and strategic affairs, she gave us a quick analysis of the situation.

ZENIT: How do you describe the current situation in Egypt from Jan. 25 to now?

Mustafa: Generally, whether we are with the Egyptian regime or against it, I think that the old regime’s period is really over. In fact, what is happening now is that some powerful people who prevailed in the regime and controlled the events during the last 10 years are attempting to stay put. Focusing now on whether the president is staying in power or leaving does not change much in the events because whether the president leaves now or after a few months, new things are revealed, and a new Egypt is rebirthing from the womb of the liberation square.

ZENIT: Are you worried about Egypt’s future, especially since the scene is somehow obscure?

Mustafa: Although nothing is clear at the present time, and although nobody can determine the end, the Egyptian state, as the vice president of the republic has said, is still strong. And the institutions are strong, especially the Egyptian army that was a safety valve in this crisis. I also think that the vice president, Omar Suleiman, can lead the present political period as a transitional period that heralds a new birth for Egypt and the Egyptians.

ZENIT: In your opinion, who is behind this outburst or revolution? Is it the non-politicized youth, the Muslim Brotherhood, or other parties?

Mustafa: I think that the youth who do not have any political affiliations are behind it. Those who followed Egyptian events during the last two or three years could notice the existence of new youth movements. The essential movement responsible for most of it is the movement of change influenced by Dr. Muhammad El Baradi. This does not mean that the Muslim Brotherhood or the other parties did not participate, but the latter joined the youth later, and they were not the leaders of this process that is calling for change and reform.

ZENIT: Many liberal Egyptians, and Copts in particular, fear that the events will be an opportunity for the rise of Islamists and hence for their suffering. Are these real fears?

Mustafa: I do not think that Egypt is on the edge of another Iran. The credibility of this statement can be assured by looking at the physical appearance of the young men and women participating in this movement. They are not a group of bearded men, but a texture of different parties and categories, of wearers of trendy clothes, of emancipated young women. This is obvious from their clothes. The Muslim Brotherhood is no doubt trying to get a share of the pie by participating in the events, but it cannot pretend to be the legitimate father of what happened and to monopolize the successes.

ZENIT: Are you concerned about stability in Egypt in the coming period? 

Mustafa: Generally, I am not worried. But there’s concern about stability in Egypt if the regime did not get the message. In this case, the alternative will be street war or civil war, and nobody will be able to control Egypt’s losses. Hence, I believe it’s not reasonable or acceptable to return to oppression and intimidation and to the previous situation in order to put an end to the demonstrations. The best path is a serious, deep and calm dialogue. 

ZENIT: In your view, are there other steps that can alleviate the anger in addition to the measures taken so far? 

Mustafa: Anger reduces when files are opened on officials and former figures in the regime, in addition to investigations into all the figures that the Egyptians hate and that were behind the corruption of the political life in Egypt, especially in the National Democratic Party. In other words, all the figures that monopolized wealth and power, that seek to form militias with which they can intimidate the youth. These procedures can reduce the Egyptians’ anger, and they give more credibility to the vice president and the new government. 

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On the Net:
«Democracy Review»: http://democracy.ahram.org.eg/eng/Index.asp?CurFN=Fron0.HTM

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