Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pharaoh Mubarak I

American presidents just adore him:

"When President Obama called for a 'new beginning' in US relations with the Muslim world a year ago, he picked Cairo as the setting for his speech. It was a provocative choice, the capital of a close ally of the United States but also of the three-decades old autocracy of Hosni Mubarak. When Obama declared his commitment to 'governments that reflect the will of the people' and said that leaders 'must maintain your power through consent, not coercion', Egyptians thought they heard a not-so-subtle reference to their aging leader. One enthusiastic Egyptian shouted, 'Barack Obama, we love you!' - the only such interjection during the address. A year later, Egyptians are scratching their heads about why Obama came to Egypt." (Obama needs to support Egyptians as well as Mubarak, Dunne & Kagan, The Washington Post, 4/6/10)

He's sooo democratic:

"A coalition of Egyptian rights groups on Monday urged President Hosni Mubarak to nullify the results of the country's parliamentary election because of widespread vote rigging. Egypt's ruling party is expected to almost completely sweep parliament after the second round of voting, held Sunday. The two top opposition movements boycotted the runoff because of fraud allegations in the first round. Full results are expected Tuesday... The two rounds of voting are for 508 parliament seats. In the first round, the ruling National Democratic Party swept up almost all the 221 seats that were determined. Mubarak appoints 10 additional lawmakers to the 518-seat body. The first round of the vote, Nov. 28 and the runoff Sunday were marred by reports of armed clashes in the north and south, along with reports of vote buying and ballot box stuffing in many areas. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition movement, held a fifth of the outgoing parliament, but didn't win a single seat in the first round. Twenty-seven of its candidates had been slated to contest the runoffs, until the Brotherhood and another key opposition group, the liberal Wafd party, announced they would boycott." (Monitors urge Egypt's election results be annulled, Salah Nasrawi, The Washington Post, 6/12/10)

The Egyptian people think he's an absolute legend and tell all sorts of admiring anecdotes about him, which always begin with Have you heard the latest one about the president? Speaking of which, here it is:

"Mubarak goes to a primary school to talk to the students. After his talk he offers a question and answer session. One little boy puts up his hand and Mubarak asks, 'What is your question, Ramy?' Ramy says, 'I have four questions: First: Why have you been a president for 29 years? Second: Why don't you have a vice president? Third: Why are your sons taking over the country economically and politically? Fourth: Why is Egypt in a miserable economic state and you're not doing anything about it?' Just at that moment, the bell rings for break. Mubarak informs the kids that they will continue after the break. When they resume, Mubarak says, 'Okay, where were we? Oh! That's right... question time. Who has a question?' A different little boy puts up his hand. Mubarak points him out and asks him what his name is. 'Tamer', the boy says. 'And what is your question, Tamer?'

"'I have six questions: First: Why have you been president for 29 years? Second: Why don't you have a vice president? Third: Why are your sons taking over the country economically and politically? Fourth: Why is Egypt in a miserable economic state and you're not doing anything about it? Fifth: Why did the bell ring 20 minutes early? Sixth: What have you done with Ramy?' " (At once sly & tragic, Farid Farid, The Australian Literary Review, 1/12/10)

Silly question that. Ramy's in irons, of course:

"Egypt has become a police state where citizens receive no protection from torture, human rights groups said in a report. 'The basic feature of human rights in Egypt today is the prevalence of a policy of exception in which those responsible for violations usually escape punishment and a climate of impunity intentionally created and fostered for several decades', said the report by 16 Egyptian human rights groups published overnight. 'With this policy of impunity gradually becoming the norm, the prerogatives of the security apparatus have been expanded and Egypt has turned into a police state', the report said. The rights groups... have lashed out at the state for its 'systematic' use of torture. 'Egyptians enjoy no protection against torture - a systematic, routine practice', they said. 'Crimes of torture continue to be an everyday practice in police stations (as well as) prisons and even on public roads. In many documented cases torture has resulted in death, despite the Egyptian government insisting they are isolated cases', the groups said. The report said that torture is not limited to political activists but is applied to society's most vulnerable. 'Everyone who falls into the hands of the police, particularly the poor, is in imminent danger of torture and bodily harm inflicted through various means, including beatings, kicks, floggings, burning with cigarettes, sexual harm... electroshocks to the feet, head, sexual organs and breasts, and hanging from iron bars or the door of the cell', the report said. Egypt has been operating under a state of emergency since the 1981 assassination of president Anwar Sadat, which has been renewed repeatedly since then despite protests from rights groups and regime opponents. The report accuses the government of exaggerating the danger of political Islam and of 'manipulating religion and culture' to justify human rights abuses." (Torture 'systematic' in Egypt, AFP/Herald Sun, 4/12/09)

Now what was that about Iran?

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