»Democracy Is the Solution »

The visit in Brussels of Alaa al Aswany in the framework of the book fair (Foire du Livre) and of the literary meetings « Mondes Arabes » at the Halles de Schaerbeek gives us the opportunity to take a look at the state of the democratic transition in Egypt. The Egyptian author, champion of democracy for years already, is very optimistic, although it recognizes that the route change will be long. But he said the main thing is that the barrier of fear has been transcended, there won’t be steps back no more.

This Monday, February 23, at the end of a long ballot, the Egyptian parliament finally started its work. Most of the elected representatives are from the Islamist trend, but even the Muslim Brotherhood and their 47% of the seats cannot act alone. According to the analysis of Veronique Gaymard on RFI, the alliance game could surprise in being based on more pragmatic considerations. But the real issue for the new Parliament is whether it will manage to impose its laws to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

The presidential elections were finally set and the first round is planned on March 23 and 24 and a second round on June 16 and 17. But many are already denouncing the collusion between SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood to « choose a consensus candidate. » For this reason, the candidate Mohammed El Baradei has already withdrawn from the race in January, arguing that the dice were loaded.

In the street the protests continue. The analysis of Hesham Sallam on Jadaliyya is talking about a country now divided between the « universe of transition » and the « universe of revolution ». Conceptually similar to what Clement Steuer called the legitimacy of the polls which opposes the one of the street (cf. CCMO-Medea Workshop on February 1).

The “universe of the revolution” consists under Hesham Sallam in all protest groups and movements which have refused to obey orders of the SCAF to leave the streets and continue the game in the « SCAF-sponsored formal political channels ». The latter is denouncing the methods of the military and of the information services of the Ministry of Interior, which are similar to those used under Mubarak. Thus, as emphasized in a Human Rights Watch report, freedom of expression and other basic rights is not yet secure and guaranteed is post-Mubarak Egypt, on the contrary. The Human Rights NGO is denouncing a harder repression against political opponents.

The pessimists will easily say that things are worse than under the old regime. Optimists like Alaa al Aswany say that the revolution will reach its goals, although it will take time. The famous author ends all its articles by « Democracy is the solution ». So is reality, leitmotif, autosuggestion? The Egyptian news will tell us more in the coming months.


Nathalie Janne d’Othée