Friday, July 15, 2005

We are not chattel

Domestic and international pressure on the regime ratcheted up this week, as opposition groups and high-ranking foreign dignitaries repeated and elaborated their specific demands. On Wednesday at the bar association, Aziz Sidqi’s National Coalition for Democratic Transformation held their first conference, joined by Kifaya and the Ikhwan in a show of support. While it would be too early to herald airtight opposition coordination (nothing is airtight or enduring in the world of politics), the effort to herd Egypt’s many pro-democracy initiatives under some sort of common platform is noteworthy.

Law professor Yehya al-Gamal called on the opposition to boycott the September presidential poll, not an unprecedented act. Almost all opposition parties, including the Ikhwan, succeeded in coordinating a unified boycott of the 1990 parliamentary poll in protest at the government’s brazen electoral engineering. It’ll be fascinating to watch who will climb on and who will defect from the burgeoning boycott trend.

Not to be missed: families of the Islamist detainees (above) staging a weeks long sit-in and hunger strike at the bar association also attended the conference to call attention to their plight. Their presence lends a fresh, popular aspect to these strictly elite affairs. Let’s hope the merging of ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ concerns continues apace.