Do Arab newspapers say one thing in Arabic and another in English? Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy thinks so. She was a columnist for the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat until she was abruptly dropped last year. One reason may have been her complaints about how her articles were being edited for the Arabic edition.
The column below is the English original which appeared on the paper’s English website. Notice the deletions in green text. And read what was left in Arabic here.
Is the Egyptian government at war with its people?
When riot police point rifles loaded with rubber bullets at Egyptians trying to vote we have to ask: Is the Egyptian government at war with its people?
When women huddle in a corner out of fear of these same security forces, we have to ask are we in
When thugs (more often than not hired by the government) holding up swords and machetes stand between voters and polling booths, clearly challenging anyone who wants to vote to get past them and their weapons first, what else is there to conclude other than that the Egyptian government is at war with its own people?
Watching the blood-marred third round of
As Judge Hisham el-Bastaweesy said at a seminar at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies on Saturday, the government spent millions of pounds on election advertisements urging Egyptians to vote. But it spent millions more to bar from the election booths those Egyptians who believed the advertisements and tried to vote.
Perhaps the biggest question of all though is how we can analyze the results of these elections with any certainty when the judges who supervised the voting and the independent monitoring groups at the polling stations have made clear the massive violations that took place.
When a candidate is on the verge of victory, with a comfortable margin in the thousands, and then is declared by state-run media to have lost by an equally comfortable margin, where is the truth? How do we know for sure that the Muslim Brotherhood did indeed win more than 80 seats? How do we know for sure the ruling National Democratic Party maintained its two-thirds majority?
I met a young man whose brother voted once for one hundred pounds, a second time for two hundred pounds and would have made five hundred pounds if he had waited till just before the polling booths closed.
Imagine a poor family of four which can make two thousand pounds in just five minutes? It is a shame that the Egyptian government has put up its people for sale.
What kind of elections did we have when vote rigging, vote buying and violence were the abiding images we are left with?
I have to agree with Bahey Eddin Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute, when he says "These weren't elections. They had the tools and appearances of elections but in essence we didn't have elections."
And so instead of trying to explain to you why Egyptians voted one way or another, let's concentrate instead on two concrete issues that have implications for the future of reform in
The first is the low voter turnout. It is estimated that between 22 - 25 percent of Egyptians voted in these parliamentary elections. But this percentage reflects only the number of Egyptians registered to vote who actually went out and voted. Most Egyptians of voting age are not registered. So against the population at large, the number of Egyptians who voted falls to below 10 percent.
That is not a figure upon which we can determine which way or another that
To bring out those millions who don't vote and who long ago stopped listening to the empty promises of Egyptian politics, we need alternatives. We need more than the stale politics of the state and the political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood.
While I have nothing but scorn and condemnation for the farce that we called parliamentary elections, I remain optimistic that the street protests of the past year lit a spark that has energized
December 12 marks the first anniversary of Kifaya's protest in
It is impossible to talk about reform in
But consider what happened in Balteem, which saw the elections' first death during the first and violent round of voting held in the town. The run-off elections in Balteem were much calmer. Why?
Because a senior diplomat from the British embassy in
It is a shame that the state respects Egyptians only when a foreign diplomat is around. But if that's what it takes to end the war the government has declared on its people, then so be it.
Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning New York-based journalist and commentator and an international lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues. Her opinion pieces have appeared frequently in the International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post and the pan-Arab Asharq Alawsat newspaper and she has also published opeds in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor,