This guest contribution comes from Tarek Ragheb, an Egyptian-American, senior U.S. aerospace advisor, former U.S. military officer, diplomat and investor who lives in Egypt.
Demonstrators at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Photo courtesy of Tarek Ragheb.
For the second night, peaceful pro-democracy secular demonstrators have filled Tahrir Square in Cairo. Although the numbers are smaller than the first day, the resolve to maintain the sit-in until President Mohammed Morsi repeals what they consider to be unconstitutional dictatorial decrees is certainly present!
Sharing a YouTube clip of the president committing on a pre-election talk show that he would never cling to power if the people didn't want him, the young tech savvy pro-democracy demonstrators are incensed as they listen to the president's words and compare them with today's reality.
Huddled around an iPhone, I watched this video clip hosted by the well-known journalist Mahmoud Saad. Passed to me through a social media site, I later transcribed it at home to find the following:
Talk show host: A viewer writes "I will still not vote for you because once you reach power you're not leaving it."
Candidate Morsi: Impossible, impossible. Why? Because the people, as I said before and I assure you, will not tolerate it. The people are awake now. Christians and Muslims know that who ever comes (to office) and does not respect the law and the constitution, the people will revolt against him. I want the people to immediately revolt against me if I don't respect the law or the constitution. There's no such thing as to stay in office forever. Why? The country will have a real constitution, real law, real freedom. The people will have the right to say what they want. The people will go out and vote again. The people may have patience for one year but will not have it for the second year. So this kind of talk has no place here whatsoever! There will be no president ruling Egypt unless the people are happy with him."
When I spoke with someone from an older generation, engineer Mahmoud Selim, he sounded wiser then the younger, impatient Tahrir demonstrators. Mahmoud said he appreciated the position that U.S. Sen. John McCain took denouncing Morsi's power grab. He thinks the Obama administration is currently driven by lack of information and their zeal to establish one-size-fits-all democracy! He does not believe that there is any U.S. Administration malice toward the pro-democracy demonstrators, but unfortunately the administration believes that the majority of the Egyptians are in favor of political Islam. That could not be further from the truth, given that the very election that brought in this Muslim Brotherhood president edged out a win only by a mere 800,000 votes. If you do the math, Mahmoud continues, there are still 25 million people who did not register their position. These are the silent majority of the simple people who are Muslims but surely not pro-political Islam. Why the Obama Administration continues to appease the minority represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is repressive in its very nature and would bring Egypt back centuries, is bewildering to Mahmoud.
To properly canvas the mood, I decided to visit Sawsan Hussein, a politically astute citizen in her 70s who did not come to the square because of health reasons but is committed and fully supportive of what is going on. A strong anti-Mubarak old regime critic, she minced no words in taking a full frontal attack on the U.S. Administration and described it as a policy of appeasement to the Muslim Brotherhood that we will all regret in years to come.
With the recent announcement of the Muslim Brotherhood march to the square on Saturday, the feeling here is that this peaceful demonstration certainly has a huge potential for becoming a bloody confrontation. With clear strain in her voice, Sawsan takes the position that it's time the U.S. government heeds Sen. McCain's words and takes the proper position so that they are on the right side for once!