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EGYPT: Book bashes Mubarak's state

February 8, 2009 | 10:11 am

Galal_amin_cover_3 A new book assessing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s era described his state as weak, purposeless, driven by individual rather than national interests and plagued by unprecedented corruption. 

The book, titled “Egypt and Egyptians in Mubarak’s Era 1981-2008,” carries ruthless criticism of Mubarak’s era, concluding that Egypt is currently in “a state of ordeal” on all political, social and economic fronts.

It dismisses the state under Mubarak’s rule as “weak, having neither the capacity nor the will to sanction those who violate the law, has no national project or patriotic objective that the people can rally around, and accords more importance to satisfying external forces which protect it, keep it in power and provide it with assistance than to satisfying the people. All this happens at a juncture where Egypt has opened up the world and to high consumption levels…”

In his book, Galal Amin, prominent writer and economics scholar, tackles a plethora of social and political maladies including social chasm and corruption as well as the future of the political leadership after the 80-year-old president is gone from office. To show the magnitude of the deterioration, Amin chose to examine each of the problem issues under all of Mubarak's predecessors in the second half of the 20th century, providing a historical review that spanned about six decades. The author’s leftist leanings are clear in his treatise.

Gamal_mubarakAmin delves deep in the question of grooming the president’s second son, Gamal, to succeed his father -- a speculation that has been the subject of excessive media coverage and elicited much debate in the circles of pro-democratic activists. Mubarak and his son have shrugged off this scenario as false. However, their denial fell short of defusing the skepticism of Amin and many intellectuals.

The president denied that his son would be named to succeed him, wrote Amin, author of more than 30 books. “However, the president did not deny that the ground is being prepared now very fast to ensure that the son would garner the highest number of votes in any referendum or presidential contest,” he added. 

In recent years, the opposition has broken restrictions on freedom of expression that kept the president and his family immune to any criticism. Aside from anti-Mubarak demonstrations, the market witnessed the emergence of few books that carried a biting critique of Mubarak’s rule.

Amin argues that the first year of Mubarak’s rule raised hopes that the new president would embark on genuine political and economic reforms and bring real stability after a period of turmoil that culminated in the assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, in 1981.

However, it did not take long for these hopes to be dashed, according to Amin. “A year after President Mubarak came to power, the situation became foggy and people start to gradually lose hope that any political and economic reform could be achieved,” writes Amin.

In harsh language, Amin points out the contradictory nature of Mubarak’s state.  “Every day, people see evidence of a highly weak and strong state in one breath; a weak state to the extent that it cannot enforce a court verdict or even enforce the respect of traffic lights, and a highly strong state to the extent that it can torture anyone it wishes and let the persecutor go without punishment, it can also stop traffic for hours every day just to secure the passage of some important man heading to the airport to receive some unimportant person or even heading to Sharm El-Sheikh to chill out or do some exercise.”

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo (from top to bottom): Book cover. Credit: Noha El-Hennawy; Gamal Mubarak stands at the feet of his father, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Credit: worldpress.org

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