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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs