News / Middle East

    Egyptians Americans, Activists Join Forces Ahead of Upcoming Elections

    Several thousand miles away from their homeland, some Egyptian presidential candidates and representatives of Egypt’s revolutionary youth activist groups got together in Washington D.C. with hundreds of Egyptian Americans to discuss the future of Egypt. The themes of this conference, organized and funded by Egyptian Americans, were the road to democracy and economic development.

    Young activists who led the revolution explained their vision for a democratic Egypt and complained that the Military Council, which is running the country during the transitional period, is not moving fast enough to transfer power to an elected civilian authority.

    Asmaa Mahfouz (right) and Zahra Said
    Asmaa Mahfouz (right) and Zahra Said

    Asmaa Mahfouz, one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, a Facebook group that mobilized demonstrations to change the regime said,  “Unfortunately, the Supreme Military Council is not achieving the revolution goals of democracy, freedom and dignity for all.”

    She said the barrier of fear was broken and, if people find that events are not leading to the future they aspire to, there will be another January 25, a reference to the revolution’s starting date.

    Zahra Said, sister of Khaled Said, whose death by police brutality was a catalyst for Egypt’s popular revolution, agrees, “There is still a security vacuum, lack of consultation with the revolutionary activists and we are yet to see a real change in the way Egypt is being run.”

    Congressman Jim Moran asserts US support of Egyptian Peoples
    Congressman Jim Moran asserts US support of Egyptian Peoples

    Troubled transitional period

    U.S. Congressman Jim Moran was the keynote speaker at the opening session. Although he shares the Egyptian youths’ concerns about the slow pace of the transition, he acknowledged the difficulties facing the transitional government.

    “The transition is going to be a very long process but the young revolutionary activists should continue to press for achieving the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” said Moran. He added, that the U.S. will not allow the transition to go astray because Egypt, as a U.S. friend, should lead the democratization in the Arab world.

    Other sessions of the conference discussed the upcoming parliamentary elections and the right of Egyptian Americans to vote in Egypt’s elections. Just as the conference decided to send a delegation to demand this right, a high court in Egypt ruled that Egyptian embassies around the world should provide ballots for expatriates to vote.

    Adel Kebeish, chairman of the conference and an outspoken activist for Egyptian Americans’ involvement in post-revolution Egypt, said they already have been giving a helping hand. “On top of about $2 billion that Egyptian Americans transfer to Egypt every year, there are hundreds of thousands of them that can contribute to the future of Egypt in almost all walks of life. We are not less Egyptian than our brothers and sisters living in Egypt,” said Kebeish.

    He is troubled by what he calls a hostile media campaign that depicted the conference as a U.S. attempt to interfere in the internal politics in Egypt.

    That media campaign in Egypt discouraged leading presidential candidates from attending. But Medhat Khafaga, one of two independent candidates who participated in the conference, said the campaign was inaccurate.

    “The conference was a meeting of minds; Egyptian Americans and Egyptian activists and candidates, we were able to define major challenges, like security problems, how to revive the economy and shorten the transfer of power to civilians,” said Khafaga. “Egyptian Americans can help the future of Egypt through technology transfer, teaching in universities, advance medicine, scientific research and improve the quality of industry.”

    Unified in wanting a better Egypt

    Other major candidates for the Egyptian presidency, such as the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) participated in the conference through video messages. “Egyptian Americans,” ElBaradei told the audience, “are urged to help Egypt in every possible way to get over its low rate of economic development, fight poverty that is plaguing 40 percent of the population, revive tourism and help the transition to democracy.”

    Professor Ibrahim Oweiss answering questions from conference participants
    Professor Ibrahim Oweiss answering questions from conference participants

    Eighty-year-old Ibrahim Oweiss, a retired professor of economics, told the conference that Egyptian American experts have a golden opportunity to give back to their motherland. “They can bring back investment projects that were shelved during Mubarak era because of corruption and stifling bureaucracy; they can invest in job-creating projects to ease unemployment and share their democratic experience living in the U.S.,” he said.

    Oweiss emphasized the fact that providing security is crucial to tourism and economic activities in Egypt and that the new constitution should stipulate that the people are the source of authority.

    Egyptian American participants in the conference, such as educator Samia Harris, felt that it sent a strong message to the Egyptians that Egyptian Americans are united behind a better future of Egypt. The conference attendees agreed that, in order to maintain the national unity, Egyptians should adopt the notion that their country is for all and religion is for God; and the new constitution should guarantee equal rights for all citizen - regardless of their religion.

    Participants urged the Supreme Military Council to expedite the transfer of power to a civilian authority.  A delegation of Egyptian Americans will visit Egypt to discuss practical ways to contribute to a better future of Egypt.

    الأميركيين المصريين والناشطين في مجال الانضمام إلى القوات القادمة من الانتخابات المقبلة عدة آلاف من الأميال بعيداً عن وطنهم وبعض المرشحين للرئاسة المصرية وممثلين للشباب الثوري في مصر وجروبسجاثيريد الناشط في واشنطن العاصمة مع مئات من "الأميركيين المصرية" لمناقشة مستقبل مصر.
    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora