Where is the Middle Ground in Egypt: Strange Case of Fotouh

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Where is the Middle Ground in Egypt: Strange Case of Fotouh

Post by Hafiz »

Difficult to know where the middle ground is in Egypt and dammed difficult to know who is tilling in it to get a compromise. Who are the good and reasonable guys - its hard to tell. One chap who is having a go, Fotouh, has a roadmap http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent ... otouh.aspx and doing shuttle diplomacy between al Azhar’s Tayeb, the current government and others to find a compromise (unlikely) whilst staying well away from the government's formal reconciliation process. Lots of secularists and liberals attended but not Fotouh but then again most of the liberals and secular democrats welcomed the military coup. Fotouh did not.That makes him interesting as a weathervane of the (large) opinion he represents which is neither steadfast brotherhood/Salafi not secular liberal. His own biography is also a bit of a weathervane for how personal values can change for the better over time.

As a centrist its surprising that Fotouh is staying away from the formal reconciliation talks hosted last Wednesday by the interim president but as a centrist looking for reconciliation he must have very good reasons as follows:

‘Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, head of centrist the Misr Al-Qawia Party, said in a tweet: “The military coup government that failed to stop the daily bloodshed detains tens of peaceful protesters and surrounds media and closes its channel; what reconciliation is it calling for?”’

http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/07/2 ... e-meeting/

Normally such an opinion wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans except that Fotouh stands in the middle ground, is widely respected by Islamists and liberals and did well at the presidential elections (4th on the first round) and at one stage in the campaign was a front runner. In the presidential elections he was the only candidate, along with Moussa, who was prepared publicly to debate the issues on live TV (using US style debating rules). Its clear he isn’t frightened of media scrutiny and doesn’t mind a debate, which is pretty democratic in a country where leaders are not used to the rough and tumble of open debate and unscripted questions from the floor.

This is where the story changes and becomes less about the current problems of why he wont co-operate with the current government and more about the general political scene and the baffling characters that inhabit it and none more baffling than Fotouh. His biography includes massive change from fundamentalism to (many agree) liberal democracy and policies which are more inclusive than most.

He trained as a medical doctor (pediatrician) and also as a lawyer (degree obtained whilst in jail), was a member of the brotherhood on the liberal wing (and a member of its peak Guidance Bureau) and left (or was expelled from) the brotherhood about a year and a half ago because he wanted to run for president against the wishes of the brotherhood which, at that stage, did not intend to field a candidate.

His credentials as a cleanskin during the dictatorship, unlike most current liberal politicians who have no credentials in this area, are that he was a vocal opponent of the Sadat and Mubarak military dictatorships and openly insulted Sadat in a public debate. He may, unlike all other politicians in Egypt, have some management skills following on from his MBA. Like many members of the brotherhood he was tried, convicted and jailed for 5 years by a military tribunal in 1996. Earlier he had been jailed in a roundup in 1981 following Sadat’s assassination. He was last detained for 5 months as recently as 2009. In February 2012 his car was stopped on a major Cairo road and thugs seriously beat him. Only the police did not know who the assailants were.

He has been active in humanitarian medical work and is supportive of Hamas

In the presidential election he campaigned strongly on social justice and this seemed to attract voters from Salafis to liberals with a high percentage of young voters (speculation). The famous liberal Egyptian blogger who goes by the name Zeinobia voted for him. http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com. ... bu-el.html and she is neither a fool nor a felool.

His liberal credentials include: women and Copts should be able to run for President, he is a critic of the army, he supports young people in government positions, supports health insurance for all and a minimum standard income, supports a single law regulating the building of all houses of worship. (seems to) support strong civil rights, rejects compulsory veiling, opposes military trials, promises to appoint a woman or copt as vice-president, guaranteed protection for minorities.

His story gets really interesting, and murky, when you know that he was one of the founders/early member of al Gama al Islamiyya in the 1970’s the terrorist Egyptian organization which was responsible for the mass killings of tourists in Luxor in 1992. In his autobiography, “A Witness to the History of Egypt’s Islamic Movements’ he describes his earlier intolerance and the later moderation of his views. He is still vulnerable on this point and has been taunted about it by Moussa.

The US Foreign Affairs magazine (never a good betting shop) thinks he might stand in the next presidential elections.

I’m not quite sure what this is all about except that Fotouh refusing to participate in current negotiations seems a bad sign and maybe a sign that the process is corrupt. I’m also saying that people can change and change in a way westerners can make little sense of. Lastly, and most importantly, Fotouh chose to run on inclusive policies and maybe that’s why he uniquely got votes across the spectrum whilst all other parties got their votes from their narrow class, regional or religious constituencies or voted for the terrible because it was better than the worse. As a bridge builder and someone who focuses on non-religious issues such as social justice I hope Fotouh gets another go at the Presidency and that this encourages others to stand for office on policies which bridge the divides that others only exploit and inflame to their narrow partisan advantage.

Bearing all the above in mind I think he's a weathervane pointing to the reasonable middle ground.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17356253

http://www.aucegypt.edu/GAPP/CairoRevie ... px?aid=162

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent ... otouh.aspx,



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Re: Where is the Middle Ground in Egypt: Strange Case of Fot

Post by Bombay »

Wherever the middle ground is Hafiz I wish they would hurry up and find it.

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Re: Where is the Middle Ground in Egypt: Strange Case of Fot

Post by Ruby Slippers »

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Never forget this, even when the candidate seems incorruptible.

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