1 July 2012

Egypt: Activist Rabab Al-Mahdi Says Will Remain Part of Opposition

Rabab al-Mahdi, Professor of political sciences at the American University in Cairo, has said she will not accept any official post in Mohamed Mursi's presidential team, adding that she sees herself as part of the national opposition as an activist and an academic.

Al-Mahdi worked as a political counselor for the campaign of ex-presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and chose to refrain from holding any official post in case the former contender won.

In reply to how her name was on the list of nominees to hold positions in president Mursi's team, al-Mahdi said, "There was no talk so far with any of the names on the list. The media and the public circulated these names... but no agreements were made yet."

Discussions are ongoing in the National Front regarding these nominations.

Regarding the criteria the National Front takes into consideration while nominating someone for the new presidential team, al-Mahdi said that "experience in politics, credibility, being a figure that create build national consensus and not belonging to the Freedom and Justice Party" are all vital.

A number of political parties and powers including the Muslim Brotherhood, socialists, revolutionaries, popular alliance parties, al-Karama Party, Constitution Party and representatives of revolutionary alliances formed a "National Front for Crisis Management" on June 22 and emphasized the need for a civil state before Mursi was declared winner of the presidential runoff.

"To avoid turning into the Pakistani model"

"We face a crisis; this crisis is the absence of a real national alignment sufficient to help us break away from a 60-year long military guardianship," al-Mahdi stated. It is necessary to have specific conditions to help Egypt "steer away from the predicament of military guardianship and avoid turning into the Pakistani model". Chief among these conditions are having a national consensus on rejecting this guardianship and forming a plan to overcome it, she added.

It is of importance for the elected president "to have a confrontation - not necessarily a heated conflict - and agree on the limits of the military body," al-Mahdi said.

Al-Mahdi pointed out that there should be a "public opinion that is ready to accept the idea that the military's role is to safeguard the nation" not play a role in the political life.

"Unfounded fear"

Commenting on the fear of some women of the restrictions that may be imposed on them in Egypt under an Islamist president, al-Mahdi said, "This fear is unfounded. We are talking about a country where 90 percent of Muslim women are veiled, therefore this is a social class concern."

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party did not take any action to indicate that wearing the veil will be imposed. "Egypt's problem is not the veil but there is certainly a problem related to the status of women in Egypt," al-Mahdi added.

Al-Mahdi believes these problems are neither related to the rise of the Islamic political current nor to the presence of Mohamed Mursi in power.

"This is a socio-political issue we have been facing for decades," she said.

"Dealing with this problem has nothing to do with who the president is. It has to do with how the social forces will deal with it."

"Power transfer will take months"

"We have no united front that can really receive power. The celebratory procedure we witnessed at the process of power transfer does not mean anything. Power transfer is a complicated process and will take months, maybe years. This requires a real, coherent revolutionary front that knows what it wants, expresses it and fights for it," al-Mahdi explained.

On her political moves in the future, in addition to her work with the national front, al-Mahdi said, "I will definitely be part of the opposition. I seek to create a new Left that that expresses the ambitions of the people in social justice and human dignity but not in enmity with the Islamic current because I see that some of the Leftists are actually Islamists."

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