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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Welcome on board

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Discolsure: I know the guy, so this can be considered as shamelss promotion. Fine!

El-Zeni Barakat --this Gamal El Ghetany's book is producing too many blogs, isn't it?-- had jumped on the blogging-wagon. He debuts with a lengthy entry on how he thinks Egypt became the country it is now--the highly successful-first-world type that is!.
Keep an eye on that one, but don't come running when he moves on to his, well, let's say, edgier opinions. You've been warned!

Moved on!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Wow -- That's what I call cooperative media

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I am not a big fan of Syrian policy (read my post here). But that doesn't stop me from being quite amazed that the New York Times couldn't find a better title for it's piece about today's Qaeda trial in Spain than "Spain Convicts Syrian of Conspiracy in 9/11 Attacks", and that's in a trial where a journalist (Al-Jazeera's Taysir Alluni) was sentenced for 7 years in prison, setting a precedence in the democratic world. No. That's not important...there was a Syrian involved. Yeah that's more nsync. Don't mention it Connie!

Moved on!

Monday, September 26, 2005

"Can you hear me now??"

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Ok, I know that I've been away for a while, but this can be justified by the fact that I had an extreme case of writer's block, combined with a, hopefully unjustified, paranoia about posting from my workplace, which I didn't seem to be able to leave for the last week or so. Normally, that wouldn't matter all that much, as I felt at some points, that I was my only reader, but this changed a lot when I logged in today to find a couple of comments which really made my day.
The first one refers to my post about mySociety.org, and it was written by Tom Steinberg, director of mySociety.org (apparently after putting technorati to good work):

Tom here - director of mySociety. Thanks so much for the kind words! Pledgebank.com is our first site designed to be really international, and we've just added loads of features so that the site really works in countries other than the UK.

We've made it really easy for volunteers to translate the whole site into new languages - you just need to follow the simple instructions on this page www.pledgebank.com/translate . Do you think you could find some person or persons willing to do a translation for your country?
And being the good person I am, I wrote back to him promising that I'll try to sign up people for joining in the translation to Arabic. So here I am. Check out the site, and if you're interested just post a comment with a valid e-mail, and I'll get on with it. (Or, rereading his comment, just go to the link he provided. Try to mention your reference--ME!)
On another note. I am keeping good on my promise to blog about the first 100 days of the presidency, which should officially start tomorrow. It would have been much easier if somebody offered to contribute, but I think I've got enough material to get pastthe first few days. As I imagine it, it would be some sort of West Wingy. I hope I would be able to pull this thing together.
Finally, I am currently working on a post commenting about the maniac pro-Americanism displayed in the Egyptian blogsphere. Two bloggers come to mind: Freedom for Egyptians, and Sandmonkey. I might have gotten myself in very troubled areas (especially with Sandmonkey, him being a monkey and all), but I think it's totally worth it.
More later

Moved on!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


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Liz, here are some guys who really deserve to be knighted. Those lads are building sites that help charity and demonstrate to people how the internet can transform and improve their lives. Some of the projects undertaken by mySociety.org include a site to help you get in contact with your representative just by providing a PO address, a pledge bank, and a site where people who boycotted the UK's last general elections were given the chance to say why. A complete list of their projects can be found here.
For all Egyptian bloggers out there: THIS IS internet activism.

Moved on!

On Syria

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Let me first make one thing clear; what I am talking about here is the Syrian government, which for the surprise, and may I add the disappointment of every observer, had managed to stay in power, unchanged, and unwilling to even consider to. I'm not talking however about the Syrian people who have a very delicious cuisine and more than their fair share of gorgeous women (well that last statement was really shallow, but I felt compelled)

The Syrian situation is in fact a very delicate one. At one hand you have the United States, France, and the UN (now that's a bizarre combination) trying to up the pressure on the Syrian government, either to expose missing pieces of El-Hariri investigation, or to better control the borders with Iraq, through which the US claims, most of the Iraqi terrorists manage to infiltrate into Iraqi soil. And on the other hand, you have the 38 years old standoff with Israel over Golan, which, for everybody's bedazzlement, the Syrian government never talks about unless there are news of some sort of agreement between Israel and any other Arab country about anything. If you take an even further step back and look at the overall strategic position of Syria, you'd find that the really defining conflict for Syria would be with Turkey over the water of Tigris and Euphrates, especially that Turkey is getting fractious about the prospects of dealing with a Kurdish state in Iraq upstream, an Arab, Syrian-sponsored one (however unlikely this is now) further on, and a Shiite, Iranian protectorate to the far south.
At the middle of the whole mess, is a country which is governed by a government that sees that to remain in conflict is to remain in power. The Syrian government believes that they will not have any pivotal rule in the region unless they remain to be the voice of anti-Americanism, anti-peace, and anti-progress (not that they're all the same thing). It's a government that sees that remaining in conflict with Israel would give it excuses to continue holding a large portion, of otherwise unemployment-prone, young people under conscription, to continue opposing any sort of political or economical reform, and to continue having the name of Al-Assad imprinted on every brick in Syria, and until recently, Lebanon. It's a government which saw nothing wrong with bombing, actually bombing with military planes, its own citizens in Aleppo because it suspected that some terrorists belonged there. It's a government which is so oppressive that when its head is on TV, nobody in any public place can summon the courage to change the channel, just change it, because he knows that this very action might be his last.
The Syrian people are in a very tight position. They have this government which caused Syria to be the alienated, dismal country it doesn’t deserve to be, and that must be dealt with sooner or later, and they also have all sorts of challenges from abroad (US, Turkey, Israel...), which although they didn't cause (their government did), they are the ones who have to deal with.
They don't have the luxury of time.

Moved on!

"This is not personal, this is business...repeat after me..."

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I have taken a shot at a fellow blogger yesterday, and I certainly didn't intend to take another one today, but sometimes a man gotta do what a man gotta do. Freedom of Egyptians had restored her composure and managed to write a lengthy post about the 'Syrian Dream', which although I thought was a very informative and perceptive piece, was filled with doubtful conclusions, and plain out contradictions (not the least is the mentioning of 'Syrian' and 'Dream' in the same phrase).

Here is a run down of the dubious points:

  1. Pan-Arabisim and Islamic extremism are "two wings for one bird". WHAT? It's ok for Bush to say that. The man can barely pronounce the name of some of his own states. But for somebody actually living in this part of the world, it is an ignorance that can only be described as suspicious. I'm a fan of neither (Pan-Arabisim or Islamic extremism), but the two had always gone in opposite directions. Think Nasser time, think Sadat-after-Camp-David time, and think Assad times in Syria.
  2. "Mubarak [...] renounced President Sadat'’s project for peace"!! If anything, Mubarak is as faithful to Sadat's legacy as any president can to be to his predecessoror. And to be honest and fair, I think that Mubarak's show of peace with Israel is as good as any politicianan can possibly pull together. He appeased the Arabs, kept a safe distance from Israel (something which his falling popularity might not help to reverse), and remained in American eyes, as the peace-hitman of the region.
  3. "the 'successful' campaign during the 1973 war"! What's with the quotation marks? You know what; I'm tired of this, I have one thing to say, and it is the most practical, pragmatic measure of military success possible: compare Egypt's area before the war with its area after, and do the same with Israel.
My opinion about the situation in Syria follows

Moved on!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

You have got to relax!

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Now here is a blogger you'd hate to mess with -- Freedom for Egyptians, seems to have gone ballistic a few times this week. Most recently over the whole mess on the Egyptian-Palestinian border, and Farouk Hosny's resignation (his last name is Hosny!...um...that explains a lot of things). I don't think that such situations are not worthy of the kind of furious outrages she is becoming famous for, but wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall while she is typing feverishly on the keyboard. That would be a sight.
But seriously, I think that some of the issues she is discussing are somehow overblown. Take for example, the mess at Rafah. Anybody who have ever been to Rafah, (the Egyptian or the Palestinian sides) would tell you that the whole tunnels thing are just a fact of life. Gun trafficking had always been there, so the only concern I really have is that our beloved gun lords are racking in less money, now that it's turning into a "sell" market. It seems we finally succeeded in flooding any market.
As for Hosny-gate (Hosny junior I mean...uh...no not that junior...the paint-splashing-wannabe-French-artiste one) I think that he is really "not the one to blame", he had "taken the political responsibility", but "he is not the one to blame". Now, you got it? He is politically responsible, but he is nevertheless vindicated!!! What kind of country wouldn't allow an artiste to torch a few of his subjects..err..fellow citizens. And then they talk about freedom of expression. We're just a punch of hypocrites, aren't we? Sorry grand master!

Moved on!

Absolutely Hilarious

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Overheard in New York -- A repository of the accidental pearls of wisdom big apple's residents can't keep to themselves.

Imagine something like that in Cairo. It would require a lot of metro rides everyday, but I think it would be totally worth it

Moved on!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Scientific Methods

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Ok, ok, I know there are more pressing matters to consider today, like how in bloody hell would we be able to get a good contractor to patch the hole in the wall at this time of the day without actually paying through the nose; or how to fill Zamalek galleries' schedules after everybody's favorite artist decided to take some time out to rediscover his inner self. But I had to write about this.
A friend of mine is just back from the Bay area, where he works, and he had this little story to tell us:

I always wondered about this Um el Donya (Egypt is the mother of the world) thing that we Egyptians are so fond of saying all the time. Anyways, I was sitting in work one day when I discovered that there were people of nearly a dozen nationalities hanging around, so I started asking them if any of them thought that his country was actually Um el Donya. And to my complete surprise, and may I add vindication, not a single person claimed that his country did actually have any maternal relation to the world. Therefore, I concluded that Egypt is surely Um el Donya

Of course if you've ever been to a football match where an Egyptian team played a Tunisian or an Algerian team, you wouldn't be so proud of that title. I can't say what they actually say, but let's just say that they have some genetic claim to the world that the DNA may prove one day.

Moved on!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Credit where credit is due

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You may have noticed the new title bar. If you're familiar with modern American painting, you may recognize Norman Rockwell's Freedom of Speech original painting shown here. If not follow this link to learn more about him, and this for a round up of his most prolific series The Four Freedoms. Freedom of Speech is one my favorite paintings. There is something about the man's posture, and the way people are looking up to him both literally and figuratively that is awe-inspiring. A certain power, which although is not easily labeled, is immediately recognized.
I've tried retouching it a little to look a little bit more Egyptian (the tan, the moustache, etc...), but this is in no way an Egyptian reinterpretation of the master piece, which I would actually hope to accomplish some day.

P.S. I know that an explaination of my blog title is a little bit overdue, but it will follow soon, I promise.

Moved on!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


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A good politician they say he is
Of course he is ;
He doesn't sound like one!

Moved on!

Sphinx, Sphinx, Sphinx… now, where should I start?

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Fellow blogger Sphinx seems to have had enough of the really repetitive, unimaginative, and simply fascistic-bordering ad that aired almost every single second of the goddamn day, every day for the last month or so. And that’s good to know, it shows that he is, you know, all human. But to take that nausea, however acute it might be and turn it into an assault on the flag itself, is a little, you know, too much.

Let’s agree on a couple of things first: the whole presidential campaign went for the cheap shots trying to make people feel happy about themselves Nancy Ajram singing praises for the ‘Egyptian’, Haytham Shaker’s (that’s his name, right?) disgusting scene with the little girl wearing (guess what?) an Egyptian flag which seemed like he was actually hitting on her, the before-mentioned infamous ad, the young men and women smiling foolishly while sitting forever behind the ‘NDP candidate’, and the list goes on and on. It seems that the president’s campaign advisors succeeded in blending American pop-politics, with some Mussolini- styled fascism and a hint of Goebbelism; a very explosive cocktail if you asked me.

But, and that’s very important, that shouldn’t spoil the flag for the rest of us. Think of it this way; Bin Laden & Co hijacked Islam and crashed it into the World Trade Center, Madrid commuter trains, and London tube stations, should that make me renounce Islam, just because a punch of no-hoppers used it as a justification for committing some of the most atrocious crimes in recent history? The answer is no. And it is the same with this whole flag thing; the government is using the flag in some soothing, feel-good-about-yourself propaganda but that shouldn’t mean that they own the rights. If this same government was one day toppled by some sort of civil unrest (I certainly hope we won’t get there), protesters storming into Abdeen Palace will be carrying, you guessed it, the same ol’ red, white and black. So it is all relative you know. And then, this whole talk about how you asked around and found that people are indifferent to the flag, I think this actually undermines your point, rather than strengthen it. Of course the majority of Egyptians are indifferent to the flag, the same way they were indifferent to the elections, or (if you think that was actually a good thing) to the opposition demonstrations, or in the same way they're indifferent to arts, reading, world news, local news, municipal elections, parliamentary elections, any sport other than football, science, technology, blogging, etc, etc, etc… The list of Egyptians’ apathies are too huge to be rounded up in one post, but I think you’ve got the idea; because Egyptians are indifferent to the flag it doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Capeesh?

I was one of those who you called lunatic for sticking a flag out of my balcony on elections eve. For me it made perfect sense; there is no stronger symbol for Egypt than its flag, and I wanted to remind every one who might actually see the flag that at least for today, think about Egypt. Think about Egypt and go on a strike, or think about Egypt and go vote for Mubarak, it doesn’t matter, as long as it is done out of thoughtful consideration of the good of this country. That is, if you believe in this.

Moved on!

Excellent Photo Essay

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Wael Abbas at ElWa'ay El-Masry (Egyptian Conscious) gives a very gripping account, which doesn't fail to include the 'I was shot with a celebrity' pic, of the September 10th demonstration. A lot of familiar faces, but not familiar for being together at the same place. A must see


Moved on!

Lower expectations = Timid Populace

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Have you ever noticed how Al-Ahram & co tries almost daily to lower the expectations' people have of their government, so that they can rub mediocre accomplishments in our faces and label them as 'exceeding all expectation'.
Take this for example. On September 12th Ahram, a piece on the front page (the farthest I can go in Ahram, without nauseating) claims that "Having a honourable life, and a good education are the top demands for citizens with a limited income"! I guess you have seen thousands of similar pieces, but don't you think that it is absurd to speak about asking your government for an 'honourable life', doesn't that come with the original packaging. Now, I am not saying that we do have it...we don't...but the day I'll have to ask it from somebody, is the day I'd actually rather die. And why they're limiting us to think about honourable, which goes without saying, why not try to have prosperous, satisfying, enriched life.
If we did actually elect this president, as they claim we did, I think a better headline would be (but certainly not on Ahram's frontpage):
"People warn government that their honourable way of life should be respected, or else..."
Uh...would I live to see this day?

Moved on!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just so it would be on record

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I read this post, via ritzy's about Gamal's succession plans.
Now, I don't want to get into that just yet, but I just want to make sure that this goes on record:

During a talk show at Ewart hall, AUC in May 2003, a friend of mine mustered his courage and asked the guest, Gamal Mubarak, whether he intended to run for presidency, and if he did, would it be in the 'Syrian' way?...And his exact words were(he spoke in Arabic, but here is an approximate translation): "As for the guy who asked me whether I intend to run for presidency, don't think that you're so smart, or something, I have been asked this question hundreds of times, so don't think you're in anyways special, but here is my answer: No, I don't intend to run at all, all I want to do is to focus at doing a good job in my current position".

What surprised me, other than his rather aggressive and intimidating tone, was the absolute clarity and crispness with which he declared his position. If he did run for the elections, then the NDP didn't just borrow a page from Bill Clinton's or Tony Blair's books, but it seems they might be avid followers of the great Goebbels himself, and his big lie technique.

Moved on!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Singaporean blues

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A very interesting post, about how our unique sufferings don't seem that unique after all!

Moved on!

Taking people to task

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That’s exactly what I intend to do.

Now I might be going off on a tangent, but a discussion of the “people’s” role (or lack of it for that matter) in Egyptian politics seems to be somewhat relevant to the whole debate about democracy, liberalization, the NDP, Kifaya, haram, and what not. Don’t you think?

Any causal observer of the Egyptian political process would come out with the awesome conclusion that the “average man” is perhaps the single most powerful person who ever walked this valley. (Now I am acutely aware of the fact that such words as “the people” and the “average man” are gross and intelligence-insulting terms, but please bear with me this over simplification.) If you go through the list of changes that need to be done to our economy, education, political process, and even sports only to be obstructed by (or said to be obstructed by) the ‘man of the street’, the ‘public opinion’, or the ‘Egyptian society’, you’d appreciate what I mean:

  1. The parliament is a virtual stall machine, in part because of the, at best sophomoric, constraint that 50% of its members should have dropped out of education at some point. Now, I don’t have a problem with that (dropping out of education, in fact I am encouraging it, read on) but to have this as a criteria for representing your fellow citizens is extremely absurd. “You know, most of the Egyptians are uneducated, and they need representation all the same….Oh, you’re saying that 49% of Egyptians are women, and 6% are Copts…oh…you know…it’s a different thing…next question…”
  2. Radically overhauling the educational system is in most part overdue because of the fact that any real attempt to improve this mess would include: a) decreasing the number of students at the top of the educational ladder (higher education), and increasing them at the base (primary education), b) cutting back on free education, limiting it to primary schools, and at the same time expanding scholarships to exceptionally bright students. Egyptian propaganda, ah, press translation: your little Ahmeds and Monas won’t be able to be doctors as you’ve always wanted, despite the fact that if they actually became ones, they would not earn enough money to call themselves poor.
  3. The budget continues to be strained by an overwhelming subsidy bill that has to be footed every month, just to appease the masses (Now, I’m aware that an even larger bill should be paid to subsidize officials’ life styles, but lets keep it about us for the time being.) The problem with subsidies (as well as excessive tariffs, and other anti-competition stratagems) is not only in its financial burden, but more importantly in its deterring effect on investment, which in turn lowers employment, incomes, living standards, which calls for more subsidies, and so on and so forth.
  4. Even in football, the government continues to support a completely failing system (national team, clubs, stadiums, etc…) instead of turning it to the private sector as it should do, only to guarantee that the unemployed would be able to watch Ahly beating the hell out of Zamalek one more time (I’m Zamalkawy by the way), while having the afternoon shisha, rather than taking out to the streets.

And the list goes on and on. My point? My point is this; most of the overdue changes in society are either attributed falsely to the will of the people, or are in fact because of the unclear view the people have about what is exactly is in their best interest. Either ways, unless the people (I’m starting to abuse the word, sorry) speak out and take a more proactive stance toward learning about, and demanding their rights, there is actually no hope for change.

Now, I know you might be thinking “so, what’s new about this? We knew that all along”. What’s new is that for the first time we’re actually able to measure (with a very reasonable accuracy) the extent of Egyptians’ apathy, and it’s 90%. We’re now officially living in the 10% society which decides for the rest who to lead them. (An improvement on the pre-revolution supposed 0.5% one, but still).

Is there a way out? Yes. Is it easy? No. As a wise guy (aren’t they all) once said: The truth is seldom simple, and never easy (I might as well have come up with that, I don’t know), but here are my two cents.

Remember my talk about incentives. I think that is the silver bullet for all reform. If you ask, where is the carrot?, then most probably you’re on the right track. I’m not saying that people are bad, opportunistic, or any similar thing, but any rational being wouldn’t be interested in (let alone be involved in, or mobilized to) participate in any process unless there is something in it for him. That’s not to say that freedom and democracy are not important or crucial, but it is all in the eye of the beholder. Freedom might be at the top of my priorities. I am not worried about what I’d eat for dinner, my job security, or personal safety (although there had always been doubts about this last one in Egypt), so I have enough capacity to worry about democracy and freedom. But for somebody who lacks some of the basic needs (steady income, job security, personal safety, decent education, medical insurance, etc…), those needs would inevitably take precedence over democracy and freedom.

Now I know that I might begin to sound like some of the apologists whom I have always hated, who says that it’s more important to have food and a job than to vote for a president. But what I’m actually saying is quite the opposite; it is the same thing. What all political forces failed to do, is to actually link the two in a clear and unmistakable manner. Show the people, clearly and honestly, that electing you would make them have better incomes, more humane treatment, better education, and better health care, and they will go by the millions to the polls and elect you.

Seems too good to be true? It is. People are, by definition, suspecting of politicians, their talk, and their promises. And they’re rightly so. But more importantly, and this is the central point of my whole argument, most Egyptians cannot see the direct relation between policy and their actual lives. They might be interested in having a decent job, but they can’t see how a Central Bank’s decision to lower the interest rate, for example, can actually make that possible. They’re interested in having medical coverage, but it is totally beyond most people how a piece of legalization in the people’s assembly would be able to make that a reality. Unless Egyptians believe and realize that policy changes can actually change their lives, we’ll continue to have dismal participation in politics, and in life.

So what could we do?

I’m open to suggestions, but here is what I’m going to do. During a discussion with a colleague about why he is not voting in the elections, he said that he doesn’t think that any president would be able to reverse the declining course of things in the country, so it really doesn’t matter who wins. “I don’t think so” I said “In fact, I think that in a matter of 100 days a president can take enough steps to make sure that we’re out of this pit hole economically, and politically”. “You think?” he said. “I’m sure”

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ll try, with as much respect to time-accuracy as possible, to blog about what would I do in my first 100 days in office, if I was ever elected president. Needless to say that what I’m presenting is just my opinion, which would be immensely enhanced by all possible feedbacks, suggestions, and especially, contributions (in writing, not money…although I wouldn’t object to the latter)

So here we go,

Moved on!


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Egyptian Sandmonkey has a very interesting post, and an idea for what should be done during the next parliamentary elections. Although I have my reservations about one of his suggestions, I think this entry is really interesting nevertheless.

Moved on!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I was blind, but now I see

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I have a confession to make: I’m totally brainwashed. I am as fixated on western culture as your next video clip diva. I believe in their superiority, their authority, their seniority, and even their sorority (-ies, but come on I was on a roll here).

But this is changing. As it turns out, I am beginning to like Egyptians also. Or do I?

Ok, now I need to explain.

My first contact with this whole blogs thing was nearly 2 years ago. I was fascinated. For the very first time in the course of human civilization, private citizens were able (no, not to elect their president in a multi-candidate elections, but) to be their own broadcasters. You can literally speak out your mind, and millions of people would read link and refer. The high point of my admiration was during the 2004 US presidential elections. I read Daily Kos, and the New Republic, like there was no tomorrow. For a period of nearly two months, I was a die-hard democrat. I thought John Edwards’ nomination as a VP was a smart move, I raged about the whole swift boat fiasco, and picked on righties after Kerry kicked Bush’s ass through out the debates. (I didn’t witness the actual elections nevertheless, but there is a whole blog entry right there). In short I really lived the experience, and as I said earlier, being a believer in western superiority, I attributed my attachment to the whole thing as another proof of how western style democracy was such an involving and participative process that we here in Egypt would never be able to match, because, after all, we have got no blogs!

And then I saw the light. Days before September 7th elections, I logged on Technorati, and in a desperate attempt typed “mubarak” and “Egypt elections”. I was swamped. In a matter of a few days, I was savoring the writing of such names as the Big Pharaoh, Manal and Alaa, The Sandmonkey, Nora Younis, Ritzy, and Bahyaa. And to add extra credibility to the whole phenomena, I watched with my jaws dropped Heikal mentioning how he eagerly anticipate Bahyaa’s blog entries. And I was thinking, what are the chances?

And at this time, I was at my “Egyptians are OK after all” point.

And then, the results came out. And I had my doubts once again.

Now, before getting into why I had any doubts, and what exactly are those doubts, let me tell you my analysis for whatever happened on September the 7th. It goes like this:

1. First and foremost, numbers should be put into perspective. The “NDP candidate” got 88% of 23% of a registered voter base of around 50% of the population. Doing the math, it turns out that Mubarak got the mandate of 10.12% of the population. So much for the Ahram-claimed “first elected president in Egypt’s history”

2. Again perspective people, perspective. The “biggest winner” (according to September 10th Al-Masry Al-Youm) Ayman Nour got, as a percentage of the total population, 0.8%!

3. I don’t believe the polls were rigged. People were confused, harassed, left standing in queues for hours, but compared to past elections that was nothing. I am not saying that the government decided out of the blues that it will allow fair and transparent elections just for the sake of good karma. No, it didn’t, but again if you look at the numbers you’d understand that it doesn’t make sense:

a. After 50 years in power, the NDP (the successor of Ithad Eshtraki) should be able to get the endorsement of 10% of the population (with a well balanced work schedule, some extra free time, a couple of hundreds of thousands of pounds, I CAN get 10% of the popular vote). So really there is nothing magnificent about the result that would suggest undeniable foul play. It’s really not worth it.

b. Even if it is humanly possible to forge 1 or 2 million votes (especially in such a closely watched elections), it wouldn’t be enough to sway the elections. So really, it’s again not worth it.

c. Putting the president’s number at 88%, only 5% short of his last referendum’s number, doesn’t at all help the democratic awakening claims of the NDP. If anything, I think NDPians would have hoped for a better turnout, than a better number for their candidate.

4. What really happened is that the NDP was pragmatic about the way it approached the elections. In American campaigns’ terms: they were exceptionally successful at mobilizing their bases, and at getting-out-the-vote efforts. They approached the elections as the massive logistical operation it is. Anybody who has been to any polling station would tell you about the huge numbers of NDP volunteers who would guide you, help you find your name in the lists, and even help you cut through the queue in order to be able vote quickly. I have been in elections before (there is a blog entry right here also) and, believe me on this, this makes all the difference.

5. Opposition parties are in no position whatsoever to claim anything. They’re unknown, unpopular, unorganized, and untrustworthy. This elections showed that while the government isn’t particularly popular, opposition parties are (and I think that is an even more serious political sin) irrelevant. Not a single candidate was able to present a clear case for why he should be elected, and more importantly package and sell his program to the masses, which takes us to the apparent phenomena of the complete disappearance of any sort of visionary leadership (or any other type for that matter) among the different parties’ ranks, which appeared to me to be ran by the same opportunistic mentality that mars government organizations.

To confuse those observations with a justification for the predominance of the ruling regime, or even as a sign of consent to the status quo, would be an utter misinterpretation.

What I am trying to say plainly is that dismissing the elections results on the basis of fraud or vote rigging would be much more comforting than to admit that the real problem is that we’re living in a country where 90% of the population just don’t give a damn. And looking at it from this point it is a completely different ball game.

What is this game all about? That would be the topic of the following entry. But let me leave you with this: I recently read a book called Freakonomics. If you’re in anyway interested in statistics, economics, or sociology, by all means try to read it. The central theme of the book is that people simply respond to incentives. If a system of incentives is set correctly you can be rest assured that people would follow it, or go around it, depending on how the incentives are set and how they’re perceived.

Think about this, and try to figure out where our whole understanding of the political process in action around us fails.

More, soon

Moved on!