OPED: Strong, flourishing bumps.
In a recent interview (story below), US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson described US-Egypt relations as “strong” but indicated there had been “bumps along the road”. And despite these bumps, relations between both countries “will continue to flourish.”
1. Tomorrow I will proudly stand in a cage with 15 other “bumps”… or as I like to call them: pro-democracy activists, journalists, human rights advocates and election monitors. They are not bumps along the road. They have names (see jailhouse graffiti). And they, along with thousands of other patriotic young activists, are the future of Egypt.
2. And what exactly is strong and flourishing? It certainly isn’t civil society. If non-governmental workers can be put on trial by the government on felony counts of doing their jobs, then civil society cannot function. And if civil society – a fancy term for the people – cannot flourish due to fear, lack of participation and lack of funding, democracy cannot survive. And if Egypt’s fledgling democracy is not strong, what exactly is going to flourish?
Yes, I know diplomats always speak in the positive and avoid mentioning problems. But as long as “bumps” like Bassem, Magdy, Amgad, Essam, Ahmed, Ahmed, Mohamed, Hafsa, Mohamed, Rawda, Ahmed, Eslam, Yehia, Sharif, Christina and myself are on trial for teaching democracy, civil society is not flourishing.
And that puts far more than just diplomatic relations at risk.
HEADLINE: US-Egypt relations strong, but ‘no friendship without bumps’: Patterson
Ongoing trial of American NGO workers came as ‘shock’ to Washington, but US-Egypt relationship will ‘continue to flourish,’ US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson declares Thursday
The US ambassador to Egypt Anne Paterson affirmed that the relationship between Egypt and America remains strong but that “no friendship persists without bumps along the road,” in an interview with pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, Thursday.
Patterson commented that the ongoing NGO trial, in which a number of American civil society workers have been accused, came as a “shock” to Washington.
Forty-three Egyptian and foreign employees from five international NGOs are currently facing jail sentences for being part of unregistered organisations and hence receiving illegal funding. Only one American, Robert Becker, who decided to stay in Egypt, is actually in the dock, the others are being tried in absentia…
… Patterson, however, stressed that despite the bumps “every now and then”, US-Egypt relations will continue to flourish…