So, now it´s done, once again, quick, without any prior notice, but still expected, in fact the President has prepared the people for the extension, prior to Dahab. And the reasons given was excpected. To curb terror and to safeguard national unity. Well the terrorism situation is neither better, nor worse now, than prior to the elections. And one could ask oneself if Egypt of 2006, is a better society, has a better economy, a better security situation and so on , than in 1967 or in 1981, if the answer is yes, then maybe one could argue that the emergency law has made a differnce. If no, then why is it still with us. The people sitting in prison year in and year out without any trial, they are the faces of the emergency law. Keeping them in prison under harsh conditions , without pressing charges against them is likely to produce more trouble, remember that Sayyid Qutb was radicalized in prison, writing signposts, where he classified Nassers Egypt as Jahiliyya, just 10 years after co-operating with the regime,in the early days after the revolution 1952.
For my part, the answer is , no, Egypt is not safer, not a better society , and so on.
The issue of safeguarding the national unity is also a question where the problem has become worse during the 37.5 years of emergency law. And even if it might feel, as the problem is worse now, this is not the case. And the solution, is absolutely not in draconian measures.
Well i didn´t intend to write this much, i was just going to give you a few suggestions of what you could read, about the emergency law, the Boston Globe had a very good editorial this morning.
Here´s a soundbite:
¨Sadly, it now appears that intervening events have cooled Bush's ardor for liberalization in Arab countries governed by clients of Washington. The relative success of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in last winter's tightly controlled parliamentary election and the outright victory of the Brotherhood's Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, in balloting for the Palestinian Authority legislature seemed to shock Bush and his advisers. Suddenly they noticed that years of autocratic rule in much of the Arab world have emptied the political playing field of all serious competitors save the established elites and their Islamist foes.
Mubarak was able to go back on his pledge to begin opening up Egypt's political system because Bush ceased hectoring the government of the largest Arab country to end its repressive ways. Bush's course correction reflects an incoherent policy rooted in a superficial, highly ideological notion of political reality in Egypt and other Arab societies.
Last fall, Bush and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood both demanded that cancellation of the emergency laws must be the necessary first step for democratic reform. Although Bush and the Muslim brothers had disparate reasons for opposing the emergency laws, they were both right to view them as the single greatest obstacle to reform of a system that allows Mubarak and his inner circle to retain their monopoly on power.¨
UPDATE It was reprinted in the International Herald Tribune on the 3rd of May, with another title, and a slightly changed article(a bit confusing).I´ve been on this road a couple of times before, the American reluctance to see anything more in democratization, than elections, their chronic reluctance to stand up for human right abuses, when commited by the Egyptian regime towards islamists. The long months in prison for Issam al Iryan, with complete silence from the Bush administration being the clearest case in point, while the case of Ayman Nour has been highly profiled. The utter lack of understanding, when Condi Eice give´s the advice to the few¨good guys¨ whom she actually meton her last trip to Cairo, to go ahead and create parties... In the words of Ahmad Nazif, ¨we already have 24 parties¨ The problem is not the parties, the problem is a legislation, who gives the government the right to pick and choose, having Safwat Sharif as the prosecutor and judge of whom can form a party or not, is absurd. That the Bush administration shows so little knowledge, that it is unable to criticize the goverment for the change of art 76 of the constitution, opening up for multicandidate presidential elections, but failing in the most fundamental of ways, to make it a fair ammendment, beneficial only to the NDP, curtailing every possible contender in the future. That Dr Rice tells the secular opposition to go ahead and create parties, and prove that they are worthy of the administration´s support is to qoute Sean McCormacks words below, dissapointing.
The abolishment of the emergency law, in place for far to long, has been one of the few things that the political opposition and the civil society has agreed upon for years now. That should have been the first step on the train of democratization, and it should have come in May 2003, and should not be replaced, by a terrorism law that infringes the Human rights and the political rights that the constitution gives the Egyptian Citizen.
The State Department take on the emergency law extension.
QUESTION: I'm a day late with this one, but I wonder if you have any reflections on the extension of emergency rule essentially in Egypt, which has been going on for a quarter century now?
MR. MCCORMACK: It's a disappointment. It's a disappointment. We understand that Egypt has certainly facing its own issues related to terrorism, but President Mubarak during the presidential campaign had talked about the fact that he was going to seek a new emergency law, but one that would be targeted specifically at fighting terrorism, counterterrorism, and that would take into account respect for freedom of speech as well as human rights. Certainly we would like to see President Mubarak and his government follow through on that pledge. So with respect to this particular action, I can only say that we're disappointed.
QUESTION: Does the structure of this legislation sort of conform to what you were looking for, do you know?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I don't have the particulars of it at this point and I think that it is, at this point, prospective -- is at some point out in the future and we would have hoped that the Egyptian government would have used this time between the elections that they have had to do a lot of different things, but to also work on this legislation. But it appears that it is now going to extend -- this emergency law is going to extend far out into the future, at least for a couple of years, and I think that -- I would characterize that as a real disappointment to us.
And finally Baheyya´s piece , asking if this is the end of the Mubarak regime?
Emergency law renewed 2006, terrorism, Egypt