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Egyptian anti-war activists: 'For the first time we feel we're not alone'

Two leading anti-war activists from Egypt visited Britain last week to speak at anti-war events. They spoke to Socialist Worker

Issue No. 1847

Hamdeen Sabahy

'THERE IS a wide gap between the Arab people and the Arab rulers. The rulers don't reflect public opinion. The Arab people supported Iraq. Some Arab rulers became a part of the invading mission by giving land to troops. Others condemned the aggression through words. Others gave secret assistance to the US.

'In Egypt the regime did nothing. Our popular movement demanded that our government stop letting US warships through the Suez Canal. But they didn't do it. The people played an effective and great role in the streets before the invasion and on its first day. Tahrir Square is the heart of Cairo. It was full of people chanting against the US, Britain and Israel.

'We tried many times to go to the US and British embassies. That first day about 100 Egyptians were injured in clashes with the riot police. The second day saw a huge number of Egyptians in the square. They scattered under the violence of the police. Thousands of people were arrested and injured. These protests have continued until now in unions, universities, on the streets, in towns outside Cairo. They have put the regime in a very hard situation. The official Arab regimes maybe now will be taken down after this war. All political groups in the Arab world were opposed to the aggression and their own rulers.

'The two main political currents are pan-Arab nationalists and Islamists. Every group was involved in a wide political front against the aggression of the US. They tried to support Iraq by demanding a boycott of US goods. Thousands of volunteers went to Iraq to join the resistance. This experience has given the Arab people some sense of being able to resist the US.

'Bush said it would be a quick and clean war. But the Iraqi people struggled against this hi-tech army. We discovered that the US wasn't as strong as it said it was, even if it has now captured Iraq. The US may have won victory in battle but it has lost the war. It is now faced with very deep anger and hate all over the Arab world, Islamic countries and across the world.

'It's a new stage of resistance to US globalisation and hegemony. Western people have played a very active role against this conflict. This has corrected some concepts. Most of the Arab world are Muslims. Some of them speak about the 'crusade' campaign against Islam.

'When we discovered that Christians in Britain, the US and all over Europe opposed Bush and Blair we discovered it isn't a religious war. It's a war between the interests of the new imperialism and the people, including the Arabs. The Arabs find themselves not in conflict with Western civilisation but with US globalisation.

'It's not the end of history. The American Dream is falling. Now people see George Bush, his fanatic gang and their satellite Blair killing all these innocent people. The people are against the American era. 15 February was an historic day when over 30 million people in over 600 cities came onto the streets at the same time. All nationalities, all religions said stop the war.

'This movement has proven that it is strong enough to say no to the US strategy. I think when we speak about Seattle, Genoa, Durban, Florence, London, Cordoba, Cairo it means that people have enough will and a clear concept of the future of the world which clashes with the US and its militarisation of globalisation. Every man and woman in the Arab world appreciates the British, American and European people who came onto the streets in huge demonstrations. We aren't alone.'
Hamdeen Sabahy is an MP in Egypt for the Dignity Movement

Mohamed Moneib

'WE THINK that we are side by side with human beings all over the world against aggression. It is a global movement. This is a new period in history. There is a new international movement. Now for the first time we see many people in the world trying to create a movement against the new imperialism.

'All of these people believe that all people are equal and there is one world for everyone. The walls that separated people around the world have fallen and we have to continue working together. For the first time the Arab people feel they are not alone. They feel that the problem is not the people in the West but the regimes. The leader of the Islamist Hezbollah group in Lebanon said that the people in the West are like us. People in the Arab world look on themselves as being part of the world movement.

'Now we can, beside other people, oppose the new imperialism. People in Europe and the US find themselves fighting the same fight with their brothers and sisters around the world.'
Mohamed Moneib is the chair of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies in Cairo


ELEVEN Egyptian anti-war activists remain in detention and need your support. Among the detainees is well known activist Dr Ashraf El-Bayoumi.

Send protests to General Habib al-Adeli, Ministry of the Interior, Al-Sheikh Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt, or moi2@idsc.gov.eg And to Mohammad Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt, or webmaster@presidency.gov.eg


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Features
Sat 19 Apr 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1847
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