EGYPT

Watch for protests against Morsi in Egypt

 

siegalb@ajc.org

Sunday could be a momentous day for Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world. It is the first anniversary of the inauguration of President Mohamed Morsi, and his regime’s opponents are planning massive protests.

Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the two-stage presidential election held after the collapse of the Mubarak regime in 2011. Many of the young people who gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir Square during what was optimistically called the Arab Spring, and helped bring down the Mubarak dictatorship in the name of freedom and democracy, felt betrayed when the Brotherhood, once in power, imposed its own form of authoritarianism.

Women’s rights were curtailed, Coptic Christians saw their religious liberty endangered and critics of the government were roughed up, jailed and shot. The Morsi government has proven economically inept as well. Food prices have soared, fuel shortages are producing long lines and electricity is shut off for hours at a time.

A coalition of anti-Morsi activists, calling itself Tamarrod (Rebellion), has prepared a document outlining the failures of the government. Its authors, who claim it has garnered some 15 million signatures, hope that an aroused citizenry can force the government to step down. The regime, for its part, dismisses the significance of the planned protests. One official, quoted in Al-Monitor, called them the work of “the communists, the atheists and the radical Copts,” financed by “remnants of the former regime.”

However, there are voices of hope, advocating for real change in Egypt.

One of the leading figures in the Egyptian opposition is Dalia Ziada, and I had the pleasure to hear her speak openly at the AJC Global Forum, held earlier this month in Washington. She electrified the crowd of 1,500 with her charisma, courage and sincere commitment to democracy and peace.

Ziada, born in 1982, began working for human rights and, more specifically, women’s rights while still a teenager, under the Mubarak regime. Inspired by the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, she and fellow activists expertly used Facebook, blogs and other digital media to organize the resistance in Tahrir Square that brought down Mubarak.

Newsweek named her two years in a row, in 2011 and 2012, as one of the world’s most influential and fearless women, and CNN called her one of the Arab world’s eight agents of change. Now, as director of the Ibin Kaldoun Institute, a human-rights organization in Cairo, she hopes to replace Egypt’s current government with a democracy.

The first thing that struck us in the AJC audience was the seeming incongruity of a woman dressed in traditional Muslim garb addressing a primarily Jewish audience. “I’m very proud to be here with you,” she announced, both setting the audience at ease and demonstrating that she had no fear of possible repercussions back home. Describing present-day Egypt as a “circus,” she cited its disgraceful treatment of women, young people and Copts, and asserted that “the wrong people are in power.” Ziada criticized U.S. support for the Morsi regime and said that one of the goals of the June 30 demonstrations would be to delegitimize the Egyptian government in the eyes of the American people.

Even more striking was her dismissal of anti-Israel propaganda in her country and the broader Arab world as nothing more than government-fomented distractions aimed at averting attention from the region’s real economic and social problems. She insisted that many of her colleagues in the Egyptian resistance agreed with her that Israel is not an enemy, and could indeed help them achieve democracy and individual rights.

Much, then, is riding on what happens this Sunday. But even if the Morsi regime survives the protests, Dalia Ziada has vowed that she and her colleagues will not give up, and true democracy will eventually come to Egypt.

Brian Siegal is director of the American Jewish Committee’s Greater Miami and Broward Regional Office.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Tony Lesesne

    STOPPED BY COPS

    Tony Lesesne: Overkill, and an apology

    Yes, it happens in South Florida, too — and it shouldn’t. Black men pulled over, needlessly hassled by police officers who give the rest of their colleagues a bad name, who make no distinction when a suspect has no other description than ‘black male,’ who harass residents because they can. A North Miami Beach officer pulls over a black man in a suit and tie — and behind the wheel of an Audi that simply had to be stolen, right? In another Miami-Dade city, an officer demands that an African-American man installing a vegetable garden justify why he has a shovel and seedlings. Detained for possession of cilantro? Here are five South Floridians who tell of their experiences in this community and beyond, years ago, and all too recently.

  •  
Delrish Moss

    STOPPED BY COPS

    Delrish Moss: Out after dark

    “I was walking up Seventh Avenue, just shy of 14th street. I was about 17 and going home from my job. I worked at Biscayne Federal Bank after school. The bank had a kitchen, and I washed the dishes. A police officer gets out of his car. He didn’t say anything. He came up and pushed me against a wall, frisked me, then asked what I was doing walking over here after dark. Then he got into his car and left. I never got a chance to respond. I remember standing there feeling like my dignity had been taken with no explanation. I would have felt better about that incident had I gotten some sort of dialogue. I had not had any encounters with police.

  • STOPPED BY COPS

    Bill Diggs: Hurt officer’s feelings

    “I’m the first generation in my family to go to college, and if I wanted to do nothing else, I wanted to make my mom happy. I was living for my parents, I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to go to work and not have to put on steel-toe boots. And here I am in Atlanta, I have finally grown to a particular level of affluence. I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was a college kid, wearing a suit, driving a nice BMW going to work everyday. Can’t beat that. I would leave my house, drive up Highway 78, the Stone Mountain area, grab some coffee, go to work. So on this particular morning, there’s a cop who’s rustling up this homeless guy outside the gas station where I was filling up. I’m shaking my head, the cop looks at me. This homeless guy is there every morning. I get in my car and on to the expressway. The police officer comes shooting up behind me. I doing 65, 70. He gets up behind me, I notice he’s following me. I get in one lane, he gets in the lane, I get in another lane, he gets in that lane. He finally flips his lights on, he comes up to the car. I’ve been pulled over for speeding before, I know the drill. Got my hands up here, don’t want to get shot, and I think he’s going to say what I’ve heard before: ‘License and registration, please.’ He says ‘Get out of the car!’ and he reaches in and grabs me by my shirt. He says, ‘So you’re a smart ass, huh?’ Finally he says, ‘License and registration.’ I tell him it’s in the car. He says, ‘Get it for me!’ He goes back to his car, comes back and asks, ‘So where did you get the car from?’ I say ‘It’s a friend of mine’s.” He says, ‘Is it stolen? What are you doing driving your friend’s car?’ I finally asked, ‘Is there a reason you stopped me? You followed me, what’s up, man?’ He says, ‘I’m going to let you go with a warning, but if you see me doing what I’ve got to do for my job, don’t you ever f---ing worry about it.”

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category