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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More