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EGYPT: Is there a life after Mubarak?

June 18, 2008 | 10:30 am

An inflammatory new book has raised the question on the minds of many Egyptians: What will happen when aging President Hosni Mubarak is no longer in power? "The Last Days," by activist Abdel Halim Qandil, is far from an impartial analytical study. It is a scathing dissident's attack on Mubarak's 26-year rule.

"How will the end be? Destiny and time are in a race, and the countdown of Mubarak's regime started long ago. The regime has died clinically and we should be only waiting for its funeral," wrote Qandil. The author does not mince his words or images, criticizing Mubarak as a dictator and using the book's cover to depict the 80-year-old president as a cartoonish figure with a flabby, wrinkled face.

Meanwhile, the book examines the scenarios that await Egypt after the disappearance of the former air force officer who became the lackluster figurehead for the ruling National Democratic Party. "Would the army take over? Or the Muslim Brotherhood? Or Mubarak's son, Gamal? Is a peaceful transfer of power possible?" wonders the author.

The book calls for the radical: "All paths for peaceful and gradual change are blocked and the only path left open is that of civil disobedience," writes Qandil.

Qandil is a leader of the famous Kefaya movement, which has been spearheading an anti-Mubarak campaign since 2004. In a country where freedom of expression is not fully guaranteed, Qandil has paid the price for his dissent. Shortly after he and other activists launched the Kefaya group, he was kidnapped, beaten and thrown half-naked on a highway. So far, the author has not faced any retribution for his new book. 

The tome comes in the midst of domestic turmoil. The Egyptian regime is under tremendous pressure as public outrage over inflation has recently erupted into a series of protests, riots and strikes. The question brought up by Qandil resonates strongly with most Egyptians, who are already concerned about the future of the presidency.

--Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

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