CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab just returned from Cairo, Egypt and spoke to Chicago Public Radio’s Jerome McDonald regarding the future of post-revolution Egypt.
On July 8th, Egyptians returned to Tahrir Square to protest against the government’s slow pace of change. When asked why Egyptians are protesting, Rehab states, “They’re there because they want to reclaim the revolutionary demands that not only Mubarak leaves but that the entire old system gets taken out and there’s a new system in place that’s based on civilian leadership. The ‘entire old system’ refers to not only Mubarak but also the military, described as the ‘part 2’ of Mubarak. Pro-democracy forces, specifically the youth coalitions, are frustrated because they are not granted a complete freedom of speech under military rule. However, people feel a sense of relief and gratitude towards the military, so it is sort of like a love-hate relationship.”
Rehab continued to describe the current state of Egyptians, “The discourse in the country has changed, from focusing on things like movies, soccer, and songs, to talking about politics.” People debate whether the constitution should be drafted first or whether the elections should happen before the drafting. Like others who support the former decision, Rehab argues that if the constitution is drafted first, it will provide a strong foundation for the elections. If the elections are held first, the parliament would create the constitution. It is suspected that the reason that the military is in favor of this process is because it would allow it to obtain more power.
When McDonald asked Rehab about the Muslim Brotherhood’s position, Rehab noted that the Muslim Brotherhood is facing a large challenge in having to face itself and deal with itself publicly. Rehab said he was under the opinion that “there will be a surprise and that the Muslim brotherhood will not crack 20% [in the elections].”
Rehab said he worked with Gehad Saif, a former DJ and now politician, to create a non-partisan youth coalition that emphasizes democracy and education. Rehab is optimistic that things will straighten out in Egypt, and reminded us that “revolutions are not weeks, they’re not months, they are years. And the transitional period can be years as well. We must step back and look at the situation in Egypt from a broader perspective. People are feeling a sense of ownership over their fate and their future. They’re having conversations, they’re detoxing. When you detox, a lot of bad things come out, but it’s a good process.”