A R A B I C A ارابيكا
EGYPT: PAST & FUTURE
*This survey polled more than 22,000 Egyptians to discover public attitudes about the upcoming March 19th referendum on constitutional amendments, which would loosen the grip of the longtime ruling National Democratic Party over the entire political process (from presidential down to municipal elections). Question 4 asks, "Will you vote yes or no" to the proposed constitutional amendments? A total of 35 percent say yes, 50 percent say no, 13 percent have not decided. Question 5 asks whether the referendum process will be fair and free of vote rigging. Forty-two percent say no, 33 percent say yes and 23 percent aren't sure.
*A political cartoon posted by Egyptian opposition leader Wael Ghonim called "The Three Knights' shows the former head of Hosni Mubarak's ruling party, Safwat Sharif, Zakaria Azmi, the former head of Mubarak's staff who was reported by Egyptian papers as recently being caught shredding documents in the Cairo presidential palace, and Mubarak confidante Ahmed Shafiq, who stepped down as prime minister following relentless protests. Ghonim calls for all three to be put on trial for "corrupting political life in Egypt and destroying the dignity of the people."
* A young member of a Syrian tribe in the remote eastern desert town Deir a-Zor posted a video on YouTube calling on the public to take to the streets in order to gain the right to free speech and the right to live a dignified, peaceful life "without the interference of the state-security services." Faisal Fahad Andlus says he understands the risk of making a public statement. "I know what kind of effect posting this video will have on my future, my life, my family's life, on my friends and everyone I know," he says. "The citizen is not allowed to speak… but the country has fallen into corruption, the country has fallen into chaos… and many other things that we already know."
COMFORTING THE COMFORTABLE
*London-based, Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat daily newspaper, generally one of the most respected sources for Middle Eastern news, begins a story on the Saudi advisory council (Majlis a-Shoura) with this: "Following its session on Sunday, the Saudi Majlis a-Shoura, headed by the sheikh and doctor Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim al-Sheikh, the head of the council, congratulated the Saudi leadership on behalf of the Saudi people for ‘protecting and preserving national security."" Continuing in formal Arabic, the article goes on to quote various senior members of the al-Saud family congratulating themselves and the public for being fortunate enough to live in a society in which "there is no separation between the leadership and citizens," in the words of Prince Sultan bin Salman, the powerful governor of Riyadh province. The Saudi leadership clearly is looking to send a message to the public, the spiraling financial markets and the world that, despite percolating pockets of pro-democracy dissent, the country does not face the same threats to stability as has occurred elsewhere in the Arab world.
March 14, 2011
photo credit: illustir