EGYPT: new president could be responsible for civilian deaths

Egyptians take to Tahrir Square.

CAIRO: There are currently over 30 charges brought against presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq. Among the charges are his role in the infamous Battle of the Camel during the 18 days of the uprising that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak, of which Shafiq was prime minister at the time.

In many ways, that’s pretty difficult to digest. A candidate who knowingly participated in the killing of Egyptian civilians. If he is allowed to run – a court ruling on Thursday could end his hopes and give a much needed jumpstart to the revolution – and if he somehow is victorious, it will be a sad day for Egypt.

While I have only heard in passing a few supporters for Shafiq – one a man who believes Shafiq will support the poor, and another who can’t vote for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Mursi because the MB leader is “gay” – it is not a far-fetched reality that when we wake up on June 18, Shafiq could be Egypt’s next president.

Any hope for change and any semblance of the “revolution continues” will be gone, and it won’t be the activists’ faults. No, the full blame will be on the legal system and the military junta, who have overstayed their welcome by more than one year now.

Thinking back to February 12, 2011, when we saw Egyptians in tears; Mubarak was gone and hope had been kindled in the country for the first time in its modern history, a Shafiq win will shatter what has been built by the revolution.

How he is even able to have his name on the ballot is beyond logic. In April, when Parliament and the military junta approved the “Azl”, or political isolation, law, it was a sign that the old regime was officially dead. But not so fast, as Shafiq’s name was on the final, approved, list of candidates to stand for Egypt’s top job.

One political analyst told me at the time that it was an attempt to push in a candidate that was “under the radar” and someone the military could throw their support behind.

Well, he was right, and here we are, waiting hopefully for a new Egypt that continues to hit bumps as a result of the former regime.

Not even justice can be had in the country. Sure, Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib al-Adly are in prison for life, but their subordinates, the ones who carried out the massacre of Egyptians during the 18 days of protests in January and February 2011, walk the streets of Egypt free.

But there is hope and it is the hope of numbers. I can think of no other time in the past year and half when the call to take Tahrir is more just. The Azl law must be implemented. Those responsible for the killing of civilians must be held accountable, namely Cairo security chief during the waning days of the Mubarak era Ismail al-Shaer, and the calls for an end to sexual violence.

While an election may be taking place, what we are witnessing is the beginning of a new movement, maybe not a revolution, but one that sees the uprising and the ousting of Mubarak as a right to freedom. A right to justice.

Egyptians, from all walks of life, have no desire to see an accomplice to murder sitting in the presidential palace. They will have justice. Egypt will be free of the old regime who tormented and destroyed the country for decades. It is only a matter of time.


In Egypt, new president could be responsible for civilian deaths




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