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Egypt: Wael Abbas refuses to meet President Bush

Egyptian blogger and activist Wael Abbas just announced on his blog that he turned down an invitation to meet up with Bush.

Here's what Abbas wrote:

تلقيت مكالمة تليفونية من موظف كبير في السفارة الأمريكية أول أمس لدعوتي لمقابلة الرئيس الأمريكي جورج دابليو بوش – أيوة هو لسه رئيس لحد ما أوباما يمسك  – والصراحة أنا إستفوجئت بالدعوة دي وتذكرت إن بوش كان قابل مدون عراقي من فترة كده بس هو يقابل مدون عراقي يمكن علشان هما محتلين العراق لكن عايز يقابلني انا ليه؟ لو المقابلة في اطار ان انا صحفي او حتى مدون وهاعمل انترفيو حصري مع بوش وافرمه في الأسئلة يبقى اشطة لكن مقابلة بوش في حد ذاتها ليست شرف اقابل بوش ليه؟

بوش مش رئيس جمهورية بلدي ولا ولي أمري ولا ولي امر العالم كما هو متخيل. بوش مش رمز لأي حاجة كويسة أصلا علشان حد يتشرف أو يتكرم بمقابلته. مقابلة بوش تلطخ أي شريف وليست تشريف أو تكريم. انا مالياش حاجة عند بوش ولا طالب منه حاجة ولا في ايده اي حاجة ليا وحتى لو في ايده انا مش عايزها وانا اصلا ضد فكرة اي تدخل امريكي في مصر لا بالخير ولا بالشر – انا عايزه يكف اذاه بس ويبطل مساعدة ومساندة النظام المصري. سيبكم من غزو العراق والبلاوي الكتير التانية اللي بوش عملها في العالم كله انا كفاية عليا ان بوش يقول مبارك رجل سلام. انا لم ارفض هذه الدعوة لخوفي من الانتقاد او بمعنى اصح الشرشحة بتاعة بعض التيارات السياسية لان بصراحة احنا في مصر لا عندنا تيارات سياسية ولا بطيخ من بابه ولان ببساطة كمان هاقابل بوش بتاع ايه مش علشان انا قليل لا بالعكس علشان بوش ده ايه اصلا بوش مش نلسون مانديلا ولا غاندي ولا الام تريزا الله يرحمها ولا حتى بانكي مون اللي زي قلته

انا الصراحة لو كانت جات لي دعوة لمقابلة اوباما – ومحدش يزعل مني – كنت ها ارحب جدا على الاقل الحق قبل ما اوباما يمسك ويوسخ الدنيا وتبتدي الناس تنتقده ببساطة لاني ها اقابل رمز تاريخي للتغيير في امريكا ورمز لرئيس دولة منتخب ديمقراطيا بجد والناس بتحبه وعندها امل فيه وده نموذج نتمنى نشوفه في كل دول العالم بداية بمصر وممكن كمان اتجرا واقول ان انتخاب اوباما من اهم الاشياء منذ حركة الحقوق المدنية للسود ورموزها زي مارتن لوثر كينج ومالكوم اكس
لكن بوش ده رمز لإيه؟ انا باشتغل على الحريات السياسية والفردية وعلى مقاومة القمع والعنف والديكتاتورية بوش بيرمز لإيه في اللي باشتغل عليه؟

الادارة الامريكية القديمة للاسف عارفة انها رايحة وبتشتغل بمبدأ يا رايح كتر من الفضايح وبتعمل انها بتكرم عدد من المناضلين في حين انها في الحقيقة بتلوثهم وعايزة تنسب الفضل في نضالهم ونجاحهم لنفسها قبل ما تمشي. أنا باحب الشعب الأمريكي والشعب الأمريكي هو اللي بيحتضني ويكرمني وليست الإدارة الأمريكية

وربما أمريكا ليست النموذج الامثل في حرية الصحافة ولا الاحزاب السياسية
لكن تجربة المجتمع المدني الامريكية جديرة بالاهتمام

I received a phone call from a senior employee in the American Embassy yesterday inviting me to meet up with President Bush – yes, he still is the president until Obama's official inauguration ceremony. To be honest, I was taken by surprise but I remembered that Bush did meet up with an Iraqi blogger. He might be interested in the Iraqi blogger because of the Iraqi invasion but why would he want to meet me? If the interview is related to my being a journalist or a blogger who gets the opportunity to hammer him with questions then cool but meeting Bush in itself is not an honor .. why would I consider meeting him?

Bush is neither my president nor my father; he is not the world's legal guardian as he would like to imagine. Bush is not a symbol of anything honorable to honor anyone who meets him; Meeting Bush would tarnish an honest man's reputation – it is by far nothing worthy of pride. I owe Bush nothing and he owes me nothing and even if he has something that I might want, I no longer want it. I am inherently against any American involvement in the Egyptian business be it good or bad. I just want him to hold his peace and stop supporting the Egyptian regime. Put the Iraqi invasion aside with all the other worldwide disasters that Bush brought on the world, it is more than enough for me that Bush calls president Mubarak “a man of peace”.
I did not reject the invitation for fear of criticism and live skinning of some political parties in Egypt because I can safely assume that we do not have anything even close to political parties in Egypt. Simply why would I be interested in meeting a person like Bush – he is not a Nelson Mandela or a Gandhi or a Mother Teresa -may she rest in peace.
Had this been an invitation to meet Obama – no offense – I would have gladly accepted it. At least I would have had the pleasure of meeting the man before he assumes office and dirties his hands. Now people love him and I would have liked to meet him when people still love him. I would have had the honor of meeting the icon of change in American history. He is the symbol of a truly democratically elected president. This is the model that we would like to see all over the world, starting with Egypt. I might even have the audacity to say that Obama's victory is a new landmark since the African American civil rights movement and its symbols – namely Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But who is this Bush and what does he represent? I serve the causes of political and individual freedom and fighting oppression, violence, and dictatorship so how does Bush serve my cause?
The old American cabinet knows that they are on their way out so they decided to create havoc on their way out. They also decided to honor some activists when in fact by doing so America is disgracing them. They want to take credit for their strife and success before its fifteen minutes of fame are over. I love Americans as people and every time I visit America, it is because the Americans are supportive of me and my cause…. Maybe America is not the ideal solution for freedom of press and political parties but still it's civil society is an interesting experience to study and analyze.

28 comments

  • Manus

    Redouane:

    With all due respect this is the issue I was pointing at in my previous comment. The “Pro Western Arab Liberals” are using the same tactics as Islamists today. What we need now is not a bunch of zealous demagogues or this kind of discourse but new Arab political movements that believe in Democracy as a political conviction but not advocates of an alien model imposed to us to serve the interest of a third party. Yes I want a Democracy but not from the top down and not within the new American paradigm. New confident, independent secular Republics not a plutocracy designed in the corridors of Washington. I think it is time for all the democratic forces in the Arab world to wake up and smell the coffee and see the true ambitions driving the world today as without an understanding of western governments realpolitik and the policies of America that consider primarily their own interests in dealing with other countries, we will be doomed and we will have mini oligarchies running the show.
    I dream of a European style democracy not an African or Latin American one.

  • Redouane

    Ok Manus,
    I understand your point, however you have not laid out the TYPE of democracy you have in mind. Or the type of democracy REALLY the Arab world needs. You simply describe a transparent democratic ideals, not this not that. What is it you want? The republic of Plato I should say. That’s a dream Manus. Well it is fine and dandy to say that you do not want an American dictated type of democracy but you want a european style democracy. That’s too simplistic for a policy option. European societies did not figure out democracy one day when they wake up from their countless years of absolute monarchies and secular empires run by begnin dictators. Democracy has pre-requesites Manus, it cannot just be adopted over night. That’s why they fail even with the best intent of its delusional intellegensia.

    You need to build social institutions like the (1)economy so wealth can be distrubuted equitably through advanced economic development. YOU NEED (2)EDUCATED MASSES that accept different points of views about relevant issues (instead of killing your neighboors just because they are different or hold different ideas or religion (coptic)). Education (3)will bring much needed acceptance of dissent in the arab (muslim) police states. You will need (4)diffusion of power (or elected government power must be restrain a bit in order not for it to run the show at its pleases. You will need (5)access to all type of information even if it is against the widely held views of the muslim states. Go and put on print anything critical of islam (which they are many) and you will see what will happen to you. Go and blogg about the Real conditions of the Egyptian Copts and you will see what will happen to you. Access to information is key to democracy.

    Manus, you simply naive person when you say and I quote you: “… I think it is time for all the democratic forces in the Arab world to wake up and smell the coffee and see the true ambitions driving the world today as without an understanding of western governments realpolitik and the policies of America that consider primarily their own interests in dealing with other countries…”

    Yes, smell the coffee Manus. Which democratic forces are you talking about? Where are they? I have not seen any. They may say they are democratic, but once in power, the blood will not cease to flow my dear Manus. Why are you such credileous person? beleiving that they are fictional forces out there that will bring democracy.. What are the baseless grounds fro such beliefs? Why blame everything of the outside world. Why do you resort to a conspiracy type theory.

    If this is your anology of getting SIMPLE democratic ideas off the ground in an dead beat arab societies, the people might even join you in the simplistic blaming game you play. I do not want to seem too pessimistic but the facts on the ground and all throughout history reveal that predominantly Muslim nations cannot be democratic… because they are none now (with the exception of Turkey and Indonisia).

    Of course you might think it is NOT an internal problem to muslim societies themselves inherent in a religious culture of hate, deceit and descrimination that is bound to subdue the copts and animist of Egypt.

    Manus, you need to be a little restrained of your views about the blaming game and using America as a scapegoat for failures of democracy in the Arab world. Just because America support the Mubarak the dictator does not mean that they do not want Egyptians to have democracy. THINK a little, use your head instead of your fluffy heart and rest asure that your democratic forces in Egypt if they had they way will bring in the worse autocratic rule whether it be Sharia’s (the copts will be compel to convert or suffer the consequences) or a secular military junta that will sign a pact with the devil islamist in order to keep the society as backwards politically.

    Real democracy means secular society NOT Religious. There must be a general consensus about basic values which cannot be religeous. They have to be humanistic and universal and shared by all.

  • تشنيع؟
    “على حد علمك” ده غلط يا استاذ، تالت مرة التمويل كان بمعرفة المنحة الامريكية.. ياريت انت تتأكد من الكلام فبل ما تقوله
    تحياتي

  • المعونة الامريكية *

  • محمد سعد

    انا قلت على حد علمي لان بالفعل لدي علم بالموضوع وتواضعا منى لانه ليس من الذوق ان اتكلم بغير ذلك لكن ما تقوله انت محض تشنيع مازلت تصر عليه بل وتطالب غيرك بالتأكد

  • محمد سعد

    with all due respect to the discussion that is taking place here, you guys don’t know anything about politics inside egypt, the reactions of the opposition and the regime to a meeting like that, and whether the gains and benefits of this meeting is more than the damage it is going to do to the activist and blogger.
    things are not the same in egypt as it is in your countries, you haver not experienced politics inside egypt to talk like that, the guy knows what is good for him and what is going to cost him his reputation and political credibility.
    thing in egypt can’t not be dealt with in this pragmatic manner you are discussing, it is a privilage you have while we don’t have.

  • Manus

    I am absolutely baffled by your comments my friend. You use the same techniques of persuasion as the Islamists. Well I do not want us to change from a religious fanaticism to a secular one. Let me correct few mistakes or misrepresentation you made in your riposte:

    • The Irony is that I lean more towards a Jeffersonian Democracy, but ours not like the one in Iraq now or the democraturs America supports around the world.
    • I thank you for enlightening me about the requirement of a democracy but this was neither the forum nor the place to go into the mechanics of it, and FYI great endeavours always start from small ideas and become great dreams. We need to start somewhere.
    • Please refrain of making an omelette of different issues. We are not talking about individuals so please do not personalise the issue.
    • If you have any strong resentment or sympathies for the plight of a particular cause or ethnic group, I wish you all the best and believe me any person with some level of decency should do that too. However, there are many other forums where such subject matter could be discussed.
    • Please, do not misrepresent what I have said by adding, spinning, or massaging facts. I would like to let you know that I have always been an admirer of American democracy and its political institutions. However, that does not mean that I should agree all the time with all their policies (mainly foreign policy), and to be fair to me I am not the only one who feels like that about the present direction of US. I did not know that Copt Neo-cons existed.
    • What is Naïve is to think that the US foreign policy is based solely on ideological considerations. The Anglo-Saxon diplomacy is extremely pragmatic and yes sometimes even Machiavellian to the extreme. However, the Bush clan confused Machiavelli with exporting tyranny.
    • Yes, you would not know about Arab democratic forces because firstly they are not given the time of day by western media and not at all supported by western governments. Democracy brings transparency and accountability and that sometimes could be on collision course with the “American National interest in the region”. To deny the existence of it by just labelling it as a paranoid political reflex is not only irresponsible but intellectually corrupt. These forces are neither fictional nor I am incredulous. You should visit the neo-con forums and listen to their ideological mentors. They sound exactly like the worst fanatical Islamists. They are just another side of the same coin. I deplore and hate any type of fanaticism. While Muslim fundamentalism is vilified in the west, secular (like in Denmark)/Jewish Orthodox (Like in west bank) and Christian Evangelical right (Like those who voted for Bush) go largely unremarked: These groups are used to justify their policies that are as racist, as totalitarian and as xenophobic, as the worst excesses of anti-Semitism. When democracies are bent and start looking like ethnocracies and the rule of law and due process is played with and the burden of proof is shifted so far to one side, true democrats not blinded by hate and prejudice should come out and defend their values. Please, stop using the same semantics used in 1936 (It smells of the 3rd Reich) to describe a Nation that has no say on its destiny. I hate to say this but you sound sometimes like a cross between Richard Pearl and Jean-Marie Le Pen, hiding behind a mask of lamenting the faith of fellow Arabs.
    • Does the following names ring a bell: General Pinochet, Hassan II, Mubutu, Amin, Emperors Boccasa , Savimbi, Abacha, Banzer, Batista, Bolkiah, Botha, Branco, Cerezo, Chiang Kai-Shek,Cordova, Christiani,Diem,Doe, The Duvaliers, Franco, Al Saoud, Marcos, Noriega, Martinez, Ozal, Shah of Iran, Papadopoulos, Park Chung Hee,Pol Pot,Rabuka,Suharto,Somoza, Salazar, Montt, Stroessner, Smith,Trujillo, Videla, Salassie,Zia Ul-Haq , to name but a few. Let me see, what do they all have in common?!!! Oops they are all the dictators America supported and helped to stay in Power. A conspiracy theorist you must be joking or deluding yourself.
    • I believe in Democracy, National integrity, and Independence.

    Finally, if you want an honest debate and a constructive exchange of views, please tone down the rhetoric and provide practical solutions to this mammoth task. Just dismissing a part of humanity by uttering that Arab societies cannot be democratic cannot serve any purpose. In fact it will create a vacuum where the common enemy and islamist treat will flourish.

  • Manus

    Saad
    I do not claim to know Egypt’s politics. I am not an Egyptian and I have never lived in Egypt. The point I was trying to make is one of principle an Ideological stance. There is a consensus here that we need a Democratic solution to our political crisis across the Arab world. There might be some marginal differences between different Arab countries but the core of the issue remains the same. Where I differ with Redouane, is he is basically saying that Arab societies are so primitive, backward, tribal and in simple terms unable to be democratic, that we should totally ignore this project as Democracy takes time and generations of democratic education to attain that ideal. In another word, he is using the same analogy used by white supremacist in South Africa during the apartheid era. What he is saying sounds to me in simple terms the description of “Social dominance theory”

    I happen to differ with this theory totally. What I am saying that radical changes can happen in violent ways, a one time historical event. In other words events like the French Revolution, Bolshevism, The fall of the Berlin Wall, The fall of communism, the rise of the NAZI party, Kemal Attaturk,etc are just events that reshape society in one time historical contest. Most East-European and Asian Democracies today do not have a democratic past. Most of them were Feudal societies and after the Bolshevik revolution totalitarian regimes.

    Also, he is saying tat the west responsibility to positively and genuinely contribute to the democratisation of Arab countries is simply a way of laying the blame of our collective failure on the door of somebody else. I am saying that the west “Civilisational Mission” claims and high moral humanist values are not supported by the reality of their diplomacy. They preach one thing and do another.
    Wael Abbas and millions like him around the Arab world find themselves in this moral dilemma and intellectual limbo.
    One of the most challenging questions that Arab democratic movements will face in the future is the formulation of the type of democracy they aspire to. This dialogue is so pivotal at this juncture in history that a close look is required to solve this conundrum. Not to talk about it under any pretext is just not an option.

  • Redouane

    What you believe is in a dream my friend, not reality. I really like to see democratic institutions emerging in the Arab world, but I am more grounded in reality rather than dreams. You instead are delusional poet. Now you seem to like American democracy, while earlier you fraunt it as a guise for an american hegemony and politics. You keep flip flopping like a rabbit that cannot find his burrow.

    You keep rambling and rambling about politics and history which shows that you are informed. There is no need to go on about your appreciation of Jeffersonian democracy (I guess you knew that he owned slaves and his democracy was intended for white landowers right??) Anyway that beside the point. While your narrative of the democracy is OK you keep avoiding anwsering a simple question that yourself made a claim about which is: “that democratic forces in arab nations should wake up…” if you believe that there are democratic forces in arab world, then name them, describe them. Where are they? instead you try to avoid the question by attacking me for misrepresenting your claims. All I hear and read from the Arab world is a return to Sharia laws or a quazi-model for it to help solve some pressing problems. And you telling me that there are democratic forces at play somewhere in the Arab world. Where? Are these the religious moderate who wants some forms of Sharia laws to co-exist with secular western style democracy? Is that what it is? Be strainghtforward and answer the question.

    All I did in my previous comment is to show you some simple pre-requesites for democracy to emerge. All this was because you stated that you like the european style parlamentary system than the republican system in America. Which is Ok? However, we are talking about Arab countries. You might like it yes, but is this system feasible in the Arab world. My pre-requisites show that it can, only if the arab nations meet those criteria. If not then why ramnble about Jeffersonian democracy or city hall democracy, world politics and other unrelated rubbish talk talk. That’s the reason why your claims are grounded in wishful thinking and ideals instead of reality and facts on the ground.

    I asked you a simple question and you dodged it again. I am afraid there is no need to debate because you do not know what you are talking about.

  • الله على تواضعك يا استاذ محمد
    :)
    فعلا انت متأكد؟ ولا حضرتك برضه امتداد لذات الخيابة الفكرية اللي اتكلمت عليها قبل كده؟ واحد يقولي رفضت اقابل الرئيس الامريكي (وده ممكن يكون صحيح علشان يكسب نقطةولا اتنين مع عالم هبل)، وحضرتك مصر اسرار عجيب على انك بُرم وفاهم كل حاجة.. بص يا استاذ محمد: محمد علاء الدين ما بيقولش حاجة ما يعرفهاش، وتبعًا لذلك، فاتأكد انت معلهش، قبل ما تتكلم بثقة كده وتقول “تشنيع”، انا باقولك “اللي مول” هي المعونة الامريكية.. الواجهة بقى الجامعة الامريكية، مؤسسة الدرب الاحمر الخيرية، ما اعرفش
    واللي بقولهولك ده سهل تتأكد منه لو كلفت نفسك وسألت اي حد طلع الرحلة الاخرانية
    تمام يا سيدي المتواضع؟؟؟؟؟

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