Egypt Failure Update-Cabinet moves to Criminalize Protests


Image by via Flickr

So much for the pro-democracy revolution in Egypt. The Cabinet sent off a proposal to the Egyptian military that would criminalize certain forms of protest. One part of the proposal is common sense: Laying high fines on anyone who damages property during an act of protest. But a broader measure in the proposal is too vague and will undoubtedly be misused to silence dissent with force.

Out with the New, In with the Old

Prison terms and high fines (upwards of $84,000) can also be applied to any acts of protest that “stop work”. In other words if a rally interferes, impedes, or stops any labor, protesters can find themselves charged. This measure is only supposed to be enforced under a state of emergency but in Egypt’s recent history that same “state of emergency” has been abused; one of the main reasons fueling the uprising

With the recent history of government oppression, use of violence, and organized campaigns to kill off dissent, the broadness of this proposed measure screams of a return to the status quo. The Egyptian government, for decades, has operated flawlessly in oppression. Now with a new government slowly forming the natural tendencies are to create stronger measures to ensure new leaders will not be removed through a similar uprising.

The Irony

I learned of this proposal through a tweet by Wael Ghonim who linked to the story in Readers remember Ghonim as the Google employee who traveled to Egypt to participate in the protests.

He was arrested and upon his release admitted to being the creator of the “We are all Khaleed Sayed” Facebook page, a central organizing tool on the digital side of the uprising. But his fame and influence was cut short when he was supposed to give a speech in Tahrir Square but was pushed aside and replaced by radical cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi.

A Radical Reception: ElBaradei Attacked

While Ghonim’s passion for the issue is admirable the actual strategy for revolutionizing Egypt’s government was so poorly handled that the dream is dying just as fast as it had emerged. Ghonim, a moderate by many standards was snubbed shortly after the goal of removing Mubarak was achieved.

Likewise, Mohammed El Baradei also viewed as a moderate, was attacked when he went to vote on Saturday. Rocks were thrown at him and his car and he had to flee the polling station unable to vote.

The notion that a state with an extensively oppressive government, could go from their current condition into a functioning and free society with flashmobs via Twitter and Facebook is terribly irresponsible and nearly impossible. Add to that the fact that the society that allowed Ghonim to thrive was not a democracy but rather a republic. Empirical evidence shows that democracies fail miserably; but usually not before making the entire nation poor and oppressing its citizens natural rights. In reality the system that Ghonim wishes on the people he claims to love will set them up for increased repression blanketing every aspect of day to day life. The mediocre improvements in everyday life (employment, education, etc) over the past decade now have a fighting chance to be completely reversed

Related: Critics fear the swift timetable could boost the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and members of the former ruling party, but the amendments were overwhelmingly approved by Egyptian voters last week.