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

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

update Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs