Why Mubarak’s speech was simply too little too late

Feb 2, 2011

I write this during the first hour that we as Egyptians have had the internet back since last thursday. For that I would like to thank the current regime for being oh-so-generous. You guys are awesome. Thanks.

Nubians ask Mubarak to leave

For the past eight days Egypt has seen an unprecedented uprising. I don’t know if you can call it a revolution if we haven’t overthrown the government yet. But I would personally call it a revolution where the current government is being stubborn and the protestors want to keep it peaceful.

Mubarak has addressed the nation only twice during the past eight days. Once on Friday night at midnight, after lives had been lost, people had been shot and unlimited amounts of expired tear-gas was inhaled by thousands. He did not address the protestors needs, only a fraction of them. The uprising continued for days after that, and we only heard from Mubarak last night at 11 pm.

There are so many things that have been taking place, and so many things that were failed to be addressed with his second address to the nation. With my replies to his speech I wish to shed some light on the situation in Egypt and the challenge we are facing as a nation.

Mubarak’s Speech  (Arabic – Translation in Italics)

“I talk to you during critical times that are testing Egypt and its people which could sweep them into the unknown.The country is passing through difficult times and tough experiences which began with noble youths and citizens who practise their rights to peaceful demonstrations and protests, expressing their concerns and aspirations but they were quickly exploited by those who sought to spread chaos and violence, confrontation and to violate the constitutional legitimacy and to attack it.

  • Interesting. So the “noble youths and citizens” were practicing their rights. Okay. That’s why expired tear gas was thrown at them with unlimited amounts. That’s why they were shot at with rubber bullets that killed hundreds and injured thousands. That’s why they were beaten with sticks. All of this happened before any vandalism or before any violence. The protests from all over the country were chanting “Selmeya” which means peaceful. They were putting their arms up in show of no violence and making peace signs. The violence started from the Policemen, or more specifically the Central Security Forces who are in charge of controlling these kinds of riots. Any rock throwing or violence from the protestors were in self-defence and to defend their right to protest and to have their voices heard.

“Those protests were transformed from a noble and civilised phenomenon of practising freedom of expression to unfortunate clashes, mobilised and controlled by political forces that wanted to escalate and worsen the situation.”

  • All I have to say about this, is that it was the government’s wish to stop those “noble and civilized phenomenon of practicing freedom of expression”. So please stop kidding us. Egyptians have their eyes open and we will not believe these lies anymore. This was a grassroots movement. It may have been started by the youth, but it is no longer just about the youth. All ages, religions, cultures and a range of political beliefs were represented in this revolution. However, none of these sects tried to pass it as their own or even tried to ride the wave to fulfill their own political aspirations. If anyone attempted to do that, the protestors stopped them saying, “This isn’t the time, we have a bigger goal now”.

“They targeted the nation’s security and stability through acts of provocation theft and looting and setting fires and blocking roads and attacking vital installations and public and private properties and storming some diplomatic missions.

  • “They” are the government, and the ministry of interior. After the initial acts of looting and vandalism, citizens all over Cairo formed check points and acted like citizen police. Since the actual police force as a whole was off the street. What kind of government does that? There was only one element of the police force that people had clashed with on Friday, the Central Security Forces. But to take the entire police force off the streets is a crime, and the ministry of interior and the president should be punished and prosecuted for this. In the citizen check points, many of the thugs and looters they caught turned out to be with the police force and begged the citizens not to kill them saying  “We were just following orders”. I got this information from an eye-witness.
  • Not only that, they also released many prisoners from different prisons to terrorise the Egyptian people. This was all it is. Since of course if someone is in prison for years they first thing they do won’t be to go loot or attack homes. It will be to hide and see their loved ones. So this was simply a tactic to frighten people. And it is not being run by protestors or opposition movements.

“We are living together painful days and the most painful thing is the fear that affected the huge majority of Eyptians and caused concern and anxiety over what tomorrow could bring them and their families and the future of their country. The events of the last few days require us all as a people and as a leadership to chose between chaos and stability and to set in front of us new circumstances and a new Egyptian reality which our people and armed forces must work with wisely and in the interest of Egypt and its citizens.

  • The fear and instability was a product of the current regime to get people to stop protesting to maintain the status-quo. He is giving us a choice to chose between chaos and stability. If you read between the lines what he is saying is that stability can only come with him and his regime. He is acting like this is our only option for stability and that is not true. How can we be stable and safe knowing that the people running our country are the same people who took food off the shelves, who terrorised people by sending forces to loot their homes and businesses. Mubarak and his regime have proven to be unfit to lead a great nation like Egypt, or even a children’s football game for that matter.

“Dear brothers and citizens, I took the initiative of forming a new government with new priorities and duties that respond to the demand of our youth and their mission. I entrusted the vice-president with the task of holding dialogue with all the political forces and factions about all the issues that have been raised concerning political and democratic reform and the constitutional and legislative amendments required to realise these legitimate demands and to restore law and order. But there are some political forces who have refused this call to dialogue, sticking to their particular agendas without concern for the current delicate circumstances of Egypt and its people. In light of this refusal to the call for dialogue and this is a call which remains standing, I direct my speech today directly to the people, its Muslims and Christians, old and young, peasants and workers, and all Egyptian men and women in the countryside and city over the whole country.”

  • This was definitely my favourite part. He formed a new government. So what? The people have spoken that he is illegitimate, so any government he brings in is illegitimate as well. Why should we now accept a government formed by Mubarak when the governments he brought in brought us corruption, oppressions, brutality and unfairness? It’s completely ridiculous to even bring that up.
  • As for the opposition movements part. This is just brilliant and hilarious. He is actually trying to pin the current situation on the opposition movements, and trying to call on Egyptians to pressure them to cooperate with his bullshit government. If the people do not accept you and your government, then why should the opposition even bother to interact with you. The Egyptian people have spoken and the opposition are supporting the uprising. The “delicate situation” Egypt is in, is Mubarak and his government’s fault, and the fact that he is trying to pin it on other people is downright pathetic.

Graffiti on Tanks

“I have never, ever been seeking power and the people know the difficult circumstances that I shouldered my responsibility and what I offered this country in war and peace, just as I am a man from the armed forces and it is not in my nature to betray the trust or give up my responsibilities and duties. My primary responsibility now is security and independence of the nation to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in circumstances that protect Egypt and the Egyptians and allow handing over responsibility to whoever the people choose in the coming presidential election.”
  • This one is also hilarious. Never been seeking power? Then why the hell did you stay on for thirty years? Why are you clinging to your position when it is clear that millions of your people no longer want you? Doesn’t he see that people have died so that he would leave and that millions of others risked their lives so that he would leave? He has already lost our trust and betrayed us all. The owth he took as president to the people is no longer valid when you betray the country. And he should not only leave, but he should be prosecuted for his actions against the Egyptian people.

“I say in all honesty and regardless of the current situation that I did not intend to nominate myself for a new presidential term. I have spent enough years of my life in the service of Egypt and its people. I am now absolutely determined to finish my work for the nation in a way that ensures handing over its safe-keeping and banner … preserving its legitimacy and respecting the constitution. I will work in the remaining months of my term to take the steps to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.”

  • Thanks for not running again at 85. That’s super generous. Why does he think he has the right to ensure the transition of power? It is no longer his role when the people of Egypt called on him to step down. Then it is a job of a transitional government. The people have expressed through eight days of protests so far that they don’t want him nor trust him.

“According to my constitutional powers, I call on parliament in both its houses to discuss amending Article 76 and 77 of the constitution concerning the conditions on running for presidency of the republic and it sets specific a period for the presidential term. In order for the current parliament in both houses to be able to discuss these constitutional amendments and the legislative amendments linked to it for laws that complement the constitution and to ensure the participation of all the political forces in these discussions, I demand parliament to adhere to the word of the judiciary and its verdicts concerning the latest cases which have been legally challenged.”

  • The funny thing is, both the Parliament and Shura council had an unfair and rigged election, so why should they be discussing our constitutional change when they are not democratically or fairly elected. Why should the old regime with its bodies that made the country reach where it is now be the ones working towards our future?  I believe the Egyptian people have proven they do not need anyone to take care of them, and they can take action and initiative no matter what. No garbage men? No problem, we will clean our streets. No police men? No problem, we will protect our streets. We are at a point where we are empowered and ready for anything. We do not need an illegitimate government to help us through a transition, we will take care of it ourselves.

We clean our streets

“I will entrust the new government to perform in ways that will achieve the legitimate rights of the people and that its performance should express the people and their aspirations of political, social and economic reform and to allow job opportunities and combating poverty, realising social justice. In this context, I charge the police apparatus to carry out its duty in serving the people, protecting the citizens with integrity and honour with complete respect for their rights, freedom and dignity. I also demand the judicial and supervisory authorities to take immediately the necessary measures to continue pursuing outlaws and to investigate those who caused the security disarray and those who undertook acts of theft, looting and setting fires and terrorising citizens.”
  • Maybe Mubarak entrusts the new government with certain duties, but the people of Egypt do not trust them to carry them out. Why should they trust them now? When they lied and corrupted our country for so long? The judges were out there protesting and chanting with the people who want to change the entire regime. The people they need to investigate are the ministry of interior. They need to be asked why the entire police force was off the streets in one second, and why they were given orders to attack houses.

“This is my pledge to the people during the last remaining  months of my current term. I ask God to help me to honour this pledge to complete my vocation to Egypt and its people in what satisfies God, the nation and its people. Dear citizens, Egypt will emerge from these current circumstances stronger, more confident and unified and stable. And our people will emerge with more awareness of how to achieve reconciliation and be more determined not to undermine its future and destiny. Hosni Mubarak who speaks to you today is proud of the long years he spent in the service of Egypt and its people. This dear nation is my country, it is the country of all Egyptians, here I have lived and fought for its sake and I defended its land, its sovereignty and interests and on this land I will die and history will judge me and others for our merits and faults. The nation remains. Visitors come and go but ancient Egypt will remain eternal, its banner and safekeeping will pass from one generation to the next. It is up to us to ensure this in pride and dignity.”

"Control your thugs Mubarak"

I won’t even comment on this last paragraph since it is just insulting to our intelligence. Here are some of the points Mubarak’s speech failed to address:

  • What about freedom of expression? The internet and sms services have been off for days. SMS services are still off and last Friday mobile phones were off. The Egyptian media channels are not portraying the truth behind what is happening, and channels who were portraying the truth (to a large extent anyway) like AlJazeerah were shut down. He did not even address this issue which not only weakens his position but also makes people wonder.
  • What about political freedom? There is so much restrictions on forming political organiations and parties. Actually you need the government’s permission to do that. Is that really a democracy? How is this not part of the reform he mentioned?
  • What about Emergency law? Egypt has been under a state of emergency for thirty years since Anwar El Saddat was murdered and he took over as president. He made no comments of lifting the state of emergency or even plans to take care of it in the future.
  • What about the fact that the thugs turned out to be police affiliates? The looting and thugs that have been roaming the streets the past days, many of them turned out to be policemen. One eye witness I talked to in Tahrir two days ago told me they caught one under their house and he told them he was “following orders”.

The Waving Flag

This man took no responsibility for any of the events taking place the past days, and pinned it all on opposition and protestors. He did not even take responsibility for being the head of such a corrupt government that caused the first real Egyptian grassroots movement.

He is now trying to cause chaos in the country, trying to divide us. We cannot let him manipulate us. We cannot let him win. If we want change this man needs to not only leave his position, but he and his corrupt government need to be prosecuted for their crimes.

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