Egyptian authorities recently brought to end all hope of democratic progress in that country through widespread repression during parliamentary elections. In an article for Lebanon’s The Daily Star on January 3, 2006, Research Director Shadi Hamid suggests now is the time for the U.S. to back up its pro-democracy rhetoric.
For those who wonder why the Egyptians, in describing their elections, use the Arabic word for “battle” rather than “campaign,” the recent parliamentary elections provided a useful explanation. During the
final round of elections in early December, and facing gains by its foes, the Egyptian regime gave up all pretenses of openness and resorted to brute force. Some towns, particularly Muslim Brotherhood strongholds, were placed under virtual occupation. Everywhere, Egyptians were barred from voting. In Baltim, fisherman Gomaa al-Zeftawi, who had been waiting more than three hours to enter the polling station, vented to reporters: “They have been talking about democracy and the importance of fair elections, and we believed them, only to find out today that it was all lies.” Thirty minutes later Zeftawi was killed, as police shot into the crowd with live bullets.
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