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When will there be a Day of Reason in Egypt? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Cairo woke up to another gathering [preparing] for a new protest, this time on behalf of the economy, after we witnessed previous protests during the Gaza war only a short time ago calling for Egypt to go to war [against Israel] and accusing the government of being left behind.

Yesterday we witnessed a new protest that has been dubbed the “Day of Anger” and which called for the minimum wage to be raised, and the election of a constitutional committee in order to draft a new Egyptian constitution. This demonstration, led by the April 6 Movement, and of course supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, summoned the entire range of Egyptian opposition underneath its banner.

But the most important and urgent question remains to be asked and it is one which must be repeated throughout Egypt and other countries, namely; when will there be a Day of Reason in Egypt and other Arab countries, but especially with regards to the Egyptian opposition, and those that believe that they [the opposition] are in the right, and support their demands?

To understand this we must consider the following scenario; there are two roads that diverge in front of us, one leads to the left, the other to the right. In other words, we are at a cross-road; the road left leads to war, and the road right leads to development and [strengthening of] the economy.

The question here is; which of these two roads do the Egyptian people want its leaders to follow? Is what is required from the Egyptian leadership that it take the left path which leads towards war, and all of the consequences that follow on from this, or should Cairo take the road that leads towards development and [strengthening] the economy?

It does not make any sense for the protestors to [one day] demonstrate by holding up banners calling for war, and then the next day to protest by holding up banners calling for development and [strengthening] the economy. There is a cost for war, and a cost for development, and the economics of war is different from the economics of development, just as a nation during a state of war is different than one during a state of development.

Such talk is not defending the Egyptian government rather it is defending reason and logic. The world today is witnessing an unprecedented economic crisis, and there are institutions which are financially more powerful than Egypt who are on the verge of bankruptcy, if they have already not been made bankrupt.

This does not only apply to Egypt, for what is disturbing in the Arab world is that we have begun looking for a new crisis every day under various pretexts. And so those that demonstrated calling for war are the same ones that demonstrated calling for prosperity and wealth. The best example of this is the [actions of] the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan, or other Arab countries, where it seemed that their intention is to continue to antagonize under any pretext.

When the demonstrations on the increase in prices took place last year in Egypt, such an increase was an international phenomenon at this time, and the Egyptian government faced mistaken public pressure in the same way that many of the governments in our region did.

Cairo promised an increase in salaries in order to meet the increase in the cost of living yesterday, yet today it is facing difficulty in finding the income to pay for this increase, as are many other countries in light of the current economic global crisis.

It is the right of the opposition to oppose, but it is also the nation’s right that this opposition does not cross the line, and so the question here is; where was the Egyptian opposition weeks ago following the explosion in the Khan Al Khalil district [in Cairo] which targeted Egyptian tourism which is the lifeblood of the economy? Why did they not demonstrate in the streets in protest against what happened?

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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