Tuesday, August 20, 2013


    Tuesday, August 20, 2013   No comments

In Cairo Friday morning, before the midday call to prayer and an afternoon of protest marches that resolved in violence, chaos, and the overnight siege of a mosque, I jumped into a taxi and slipped across the Nile into the quiet, semi-suburban neighborhood of Dokki. I was there to meet with Mohammed Aboul-Ghar, a seventy-three-year-old academic and politician who has been a leading figure in Egypt’s liberal establishment, and now represents one of the most confounding elements of the country’s current crisis: the wholesale alignment of old-guard liberals with the military.

Aboul-Ghar’s reputation in pro-democracy politics is well earned. In 2004, during the era of Hosni Mubarak, Aboul-Ghar co-founded the March 9th organization, a group of professors who bravely fought against the interference of state-security services into the operations of Egypt’s universities. In the run up to the 2011 revolution, he was an organizer and spokesman for the National Association for Change, an anti-authoritarian organization led by Mohammed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize Winner and Egypt’s most prominent liberal politician. And after Mubarak finally fell, he helped create what many viewed as the most substantial political party for liberals, the Social Democratic Party. That fall, as a temporary military regime ruled Egypt, I had met with Aboul-Ghar, who happily assured me that the military would soon be leaving the management of the country to civilians. “My feeling is that the military wants to have a safe retreat,” he said then. “A safe retreat and all their previous privileges.”


Isr Ed

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