Archive for March, 2011

The German University in Cairo invited Dr. Amr Hamzawy to give a lecture entitled “Next Steps In Egypt Transition after the Referendum”, presented by AYB (Alashanek Ya Balady) – one of the university’s Student associations. Before I go into the event details in particular, here are some brief points regarding Dr. Amr Hamzawy’s biography:

  • Amr Hamzawy is research director and senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. His research interests include the changing dynamics of political participation in the Arab world and the role of Islamist movements in Arab politics.
  • He is co-author, with Nathan J. Brown, of Between Religion and Politics, published in 2010, and the author of The Arab Future–Contemporary Debates on Democracy, Political Islam, and Resistance, published in 2010 (in Arabic).
  • Hamzawy serves on the Middle East Advisory Council of Human Rights Watch, and the boards of Crisis International and the Arab Council for Social Science. He regularly contributes articles in Arabic and English to various academic journals and writes a bi-monthly op-ed for the leading Arab daily al-Hayat.

2 45 pm: Students queued in front of the gates leading to the C1 building where the lecture was to be given. ID numbers were checked as the students who previously registered online to attend the event were allowed in. Brochures were distributed amongst students with brief points regarding what was going to take place throughout as they were being seated. We were also handed note cards to write down whatever questions we wanted to ask Dr. Hamzawy.

A while later, we were presented a short video as Dr. Hamzawy was present amongst us. Then, up the stage he was, giving us a lecture which I personally found to be precise, concise and definitely interesting!  Following the introductory chit-chat, Dr. Hamzawy started his talk through how we people compare the situation before and after the 25th on January and how we base our demands upon that in order to start up a democratic Egypt.

And in the process of achieving that, there are several points which needed to be tackled in order to maintain such a drastic transition. These points, were mainly the following:

  1. Setting up and most importantly, following a set of  Laws. Standard laws and penalties that need to be laid down and applied throughout which would definitely ensure a peaceful, fair rule.
  2. Attaining a balanced political life with no specific political party taking control and ruling over. This should be promoted through the checking and balancing between political authorities and control.  “the “Nazi” party was an example he presented.

“The referendum was indeed the first technical democratic practice for many” He added.

Needless to mention, he also referred to how important it is that people should be involved  and interested in the political life and without doing so, Egypt would slip back into what it was before the revolution.

3. Fair elections is a must, and that was to take place through 2 steps:

(I) Racism and discrimination  towards gender, religion and religious backgrounds should be avoided!  Certain parties promote such differences and that should not take place. Instead, mutual respect between Egyptians is the way for a better Egypt.

(II) A civic status should be maintained. Elections should not be a war between religious point of views. It should rather be a peaceful race of opinions which cannot be over-ruled by religious rights and wrongs and definitely not by the hierarchal military power, but by an elected party.   Dr. Hamzawy then clarified a point that that does not mean religion should be totally left out, but it could be the inspiration to the demanded standards. He followed his statement with several examples of how many different democratic parties follow such an aspect.

4. Democratic practice is not just a one time thing and there must be questioning and judgement from authorities. The parliament and the coming president should ensure clear operations to be followed and should not be given the chance to use the democratic rule against what it should be. “One man- one time- one vote”

Following a “Democratic Egypt”, comes the public involvement in re-building Egypt. All over the world, he mentioned, democracy was proven to give the best political parties that gave quality and righteousness amongst its people and that it’s now time for each and every individual to know their roles.  Through the example of Universities, he highlighted how what was going on might have had an effect in directing our minds towards nothing but politics and away from other essential points. Universities aim to bring us to becoming educated  “critical thinkers” and it’s not acceptable for politics to take over the educational process.

In brief, there are several more equally important  points and issues that need to be tackled other than just politics.

“There are almost 17 to 18 million citizens, almost more than 25% of the society who are illiterate!” he quoted.

Additionally, He referred to how essential it is to build a civic society that can actually make use of democracy through general discussions that does not only involve politics and the “constitution” but rather shifts out minds to more productive projects that are currently being set up and that we, as individuals, should read more into.

Lastly, as he was closing his very fruitful talk, Dr. Hamzawy referred to how those of us who were fortunate enough and were brought up in a more fortunate environment should pay particular attention to the linguistic terms they use that could differentiate between individuals of different standards.

” You don’t need to go anywhere under the heading of Awareness campaigns. All you need to do is open up discussions with those people, hear them… And direct the media to let their voices be heard as they speak up!”

That was the end of a very beneficial liberal talk. It was now time for open-discussions where students had the chance to ask him questions and had him clarify their doubts on many several aspects of the current situation.