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Some in Egypt's Elite Call for Change


Egypt businessman Ibrahim Labib

Egypt businessman Ibrahim Labib

Demonstrations in Egypt calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down have drawn people from all walks of life, including members of the country's elite. Some in the elite have benefitted financially and politically from their close association to the Mubarak government. But ironically, many are also among those protesting against Mubarak and calling for an end to authoritarian rule.

Not far from Tahrir Square is an exclusive club where businessman Ibrahim Labib is spending time during the unrest.

"We have a lot of difficulties. We stay home. We do not go any place. Nobody goes any place," he said. "We cannot work. Nobody works. We stay home."

He tries to get his mind off worries about an uncertain future, and where the unending protests will take this country. He also fears that things will stay the same.

"I'm worried to continue like that," he explains. "We have a right to have something different than what we have had."

These days, it's hard to find a parking space at this members-only sports club in central Cairo, or an empty table.

The club is a place where the affluent can gather and talk about things other than the unrest.

Some members of Egypt's westernized, largely secular elite wonder whether they'll be able to maintain their lifestyle.

They're concerned about a possible turn to a more religious and nationalist state with restrictions on civil liberties. They fear that change may be so drastic they will have to leave.

The uprising has been led largely by young intellectuals from the elite who want a western-style democracy.

Ibrahim Labib is in his 60s and says he would not leave Egypt under any circumstances. His worry is that a nation with a damaged economy and an oppressive government will not provide opportunities for the young.

Like many Egyptians, he thinks President Mubarak's time is over and he hopes the changes that follow make Egypt a better country for all, not just a few.

"We hope they solve it quickly," said Labib. "He's old, and he's going, by us or by Him (points upward). So fix something good for the country."

He says he will ride out the turmoil, hoping better days are on the horizon for his ancient land.

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