Although Egypt's heir apparent Gamal Mubarak says next year's election "is going to be free and fair," his father Hosni's regime has tightened the election laws to block other contenders to his presidency, an American magazine says.
Mubarak senior has also used the odious Emergency Law to jail five of the 16 leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in the past year and is imprisoning secular critics as well. People are afraid to speak out, much less run for office.
Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told Joshua Hammer of The New Yorker magazine that "Hundreds of bloggers are being summoned, kept for days, or weeks, or months, and then released." One blogger, Mosaad Abu Fajr, who ripped the government's human-rights abuses against Bedouins, has been imprisoned since 2007 and Kareem Amer, who mockingly referred to boss Hosni as a deity, is serving a four-year stretch for his joke.
Enacted in 1981, the Emergency Law "has been used to jail thousands of people without charges," Hammer writes, and bans public gatherings of more than five people without prior official permission. This makes it nearly impossible for opponents of the dictatorship to fill the streets with protesters in a show of support. And just so his political opponents get the message, Mubarak's regime jailed Ayman Nour, a lawyer who finished second in the farcical 2005 presidential election. Nour, whose "fraud" conviction bars him from running again, was freed last year ahead of schedule perhaps because of U.S. pressure (Washington gives the Egyptian dictatorship $2 billion a year).
Even as the U.S. says makes a show of calling for fair elections in Egypt, its CIA has rendered suspects there without due process of law for interrogation and likely torture by electro-shock. Egypt is one of 28 countries that detain U.S. suspects from its bogus "War on Terror."
In an article called "The Contenders" in the April 5 issue, Nour tells Hammer Gamal's succession would be a "catastrophe." "It will kill democracy. It will encourage the militant groups to become even more militant, because the regime is illegitimate," Nour says.