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Egyptian Novelist Ahdaf Soueif: “Down With The Next President. Amen.”

June 17, 2012

Many thoughts coming from Egypt today.

The man who will be declared president of Egypt shortly will not be the president Egyptians want, says the novelist Ahdaf Soueif.

Writing in Comment is free she says the choice before the electorate represents everything that revolution fought against. But the generals are wrong to think the revolution is over, she argues.

The revolution will continue because neither the old regime nor the Islamist trend in its current form are going to deliver “bread, freedom, social justice”. Neither of them are going to validate the sacrifices made by the 1,200 young people murdered by the regime, the 8,000 maimed, the 16,000 court-martialled. As the weekend’s spectacle unfolds, thousand of young men are in military jails, many of them on hunger strike.

In the first round of presidential elections three weeks ago, fewer than five million voted for Shafiq – the old regime candidate – and also fewer than five million voted for Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Around 12 million voted for the progressive, secular trend in the revolution – but that didn’t count because that vote was divided between five candidates. The progressives had done what they do best: failed to come together and make common cause against a known and clear enemy.

The people have, at every turn, done the right thing. They have taken to the streets when the cause has been theirs, they’ve stayed away when it’s been manufactured. They’ve been brave and resilient and resourceful. They have learned lessons. They voted the Brotherhood into parliament, and when they performed abysmally they withheld 50% of their vote from the Brotherhood’s presidential candidate. They are demanding and trying to push forward effective, unified, progressive representatives who can turn their courage into political gains. Most important, they have taken their revolution to their factories, universities, towns and streets.

For the last several months, a favourite slogan has been: “Down with the next president”. Amen.

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