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Post-Election Egypt: A Crucial Era Begins - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Yes, multiparty elections were a new and significant landmark in Egypt”s history as our newspaper”s headline stated a few days ago. However, the more important and significant stage in Egypt”s history starts today, meaning post-elections Egypt. Now that the votes have been tallied, with President Hosni Mubarak winning, the real questions that must be raised today is; what about the next elections? Who would be the winner? Those are the difficult questions to answer.

Some of the campaign slogans adopted by some of the candidates during the elections had nothing to do with Egypt”s political and economic realities. Some of these slogans reminded me of a movie, which starred Egyptian film star Adel Imam. In the Movie, the lead character asks a man sitting outside his doorstep about how he felt about some of the events happening in his neighborhood. The man replied, “I don’t know. I haven’t left my home since the triple aggression (on Egypt in 1956)”! The easiest example here was the candidate who wanted the United Nations to choose which one of the world”s three major religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) was the most appropriate.

The challenge facing Egypt is building a civil society, and having the ability of differentiating between fantasy-based rhetoric, from realistic demands, otherwise a political group might come into power that won”t have the interests of Egypt”s public at heart.

Without a doubt, Egypt’s true interest does not depend on the Palestinian cause or Iraq or any other case for that matter, although Egypt definitely has a role to play in these issues. Egypt”s best interests lie in its ability to reform itself both economically and politically. This should not mean that Egypt must be completely engrossed in its own internal issues, but power comes from a strong internal front, and expansion without power ends up in disruption and fragmentation.

For this reason, Egypt must focus all its efforts into preparing itself for the hard work required in building a civil society.

yes it is true that there are some segments of Egypt”s society who are hindering the county”s progression, since some of them are still trying to hold on to dated ideas, while others are obstructed by political factors, this particular segment is characterized by its bickering with the Egyptian government and are not known for their development capabilities. There”s a huge difference between hindering and nurturing development, which can be clearly seen in the literature and methodology employed by some of these groups.

It is also true that for a long period in Arab history, political validity was given to whoever spoke in the name of Islam and the Palestinian cause. Yet it is obvious that Arab governments, including the Egyptian government, are aware that the rules of the game have changed and that validity is now gained by addressing people’s concerns, which are mainly economic and educational. Yet many factions in the Arab world have yet to realize this change. It is enough to mention that the new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected by the votes of the underprivileged.

This is why today the era of &#34substance&#34 starts in Egypt. Today the shaping of Egypt”s future is taking place, and its people need to draw the line, so that no future candidate will run under the pretence of severing international relations. Cairo would then find itself trapped in the arms of a president with a 1960”s or 70”s mentality, especially since we in the Arab world have a tendency to buy words with out checking their validity. I say all this because I”m convinced that a stable Egypt means a stable Arab world.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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