ElBaradei returns to Egypt calling for democracy

Self-exiled opposition leader publishes manifesto for toppling Mubarak regime: "It is time for a change; the only option is a new beginning."

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 27, 2011 09:23
2 minute read.
Egyptian supporters surround ElBaradei as he arriv

ElBaradei Cairo 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Democracy activist, Mohamed ElBaradei, is expected to return from Vienna to Egypt on Thursday following this week's protests, laying out his manifesto for change in Newsweek.

"I am going back to Cairo, and back onto the streets bcause, really, there is no choice," ElBaradei wrote. "So far, the regime does not seem to have gotten that message."

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"The Egyptian people broke the barrier of fear, and once that is broken, there is no stopping them," he explained.

"Each day it gets harder to work with Mubarak's government, even for a transition," ElBaradei wrote. "He has been there 30 years, he is 83 years old, and it is time for a change...The only option is a new beginning."

"I have hoped to find a way toward change through peaceful means," he added. "In a country like Egypt, it's not easy to get people to put down their names and government ID numbers on a document calling for fundamental democratic reforms, yet a million people have done just that."

"The regime, like the monkey that sees nothing and hears nothing, simply ignored us," ElBaradei explained.



ElBaradei also laments media censorship in Egypt, explaining that he has "been out of Egypt because that is the only way I can be heard. I have been totally cut off from the local media when I am there."

In addition, ElBaradei slams American relations with Egypt, saying that the West applies "a double standard for your friends...siding with an authoritarian regime just because you think it represents your interests." He expresses incredulity at Clinton's assertion, after riots in Tunisia, that the Egyptian government is stable and "looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people."

The leading Egyptian activist for democracy says the West is convinced "that the only options in the Arab world are between authoritarian regimes and Islamic jihadists."

"That's obviously bogus," ElBaradei claims. "If we are talking about Egypt, there is a whole rainbow variety of people who are secular, liberal, market-oriented, and if you give them a chance they will organize themselves to elect a government that is modern and moderate."

Egypt "wants desperately to catch up with the rest of the world," ElBaradei wrote.

US  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Wednesday that Egypt had to adopt democratic and other reforms and allow peaceful protests. She told Cairo to lay off social media sites like Facebook and Twitter even as activists are using them to organize street gatherings and destabilize the government.

In October, ElBaradei, a former head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, joined the Muslim Brotherhood in calling to end Mubarak's reign and boycott what he called "phony" elections in Egypt. He said he has "total ideological and intellectual disagreement" with the Islamic group, but they agree that they "want a democratic Egypt."

AP contributed to this report.

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