Posted by POMED Wire on October 19, 2011 in News Clips

On Tuesday, the Arab American Institute hosted an event entitled “A View From the Ground: Egypt’s Aspirations and U.S. Interests” featuring Ahmed Maher of the Egyptian April 6 Youth Movement. Maher’s speech started with a brief history of April 6 and the Egyptian revolution against Mubarak, followed by a discussion of current April 6 efforts to continue the momentum from the revolution.

For complete event notes, continue reading.  Or, click here for the PDF. 

Ahmed Maher began the discussion by giving an overview of the April 6 Movement and the events that lead up to the revolution. April 6 has been an active organization in Egypt since 2008, starting as a Facebook group. Maher has had a history of organizing protests since that time, and frequently was subjected to oppressive regime policies under Mubarak. However, in the time leading up to the 2011 revolution, he argued that Egyptians saw Tunisia and realized that emulating Tunisia was the solution to their problem. However, he said that Egyptians’ first mistake was to leave Tahrir Square following the ouster of Mubarak. Because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has now taken over control of the country, all of the goals have not been realized. The people are still not in charge of the government, and SCAF has its own agenda, namely to create a new regime similar to that of Mubarak and stay in power as long as possible. However, Maher said he remains optimistic about prospects for Egyptian development, and that after a few parliaments and presidents are elected, the situation will begin to improve.

Maher then briefly described how April 6 answers questions about its current role in Egypt. While it is very important to have political parties and members of parliament, because the revolution has not finished yet, April 6 must remain apolitical. He continued, explaining that his movement’s goal is to become a government watchdog, and to keep pressure on SCAF to continue moving in the direction of true democracy. He finished is speech by saying April 6 may become a political party in the future, but that is not its current role in Egyptian society.

During a question and answer session, Maher gave an overview of how the army has dealt with April 6 since it assumed power. In the beginning, SCAF said it was happy with April 6′s role in society, and met with them on a number of occasions. However, once the SCAF realized that April 6 would not yield on any of its demands, SCAF became more hostile and spread rumors about the movement.

Regarding the upcoming elections, Maher affirmed that the parliamentary elections next month will be very important in Egypt’s development, but there are still a number of questions that remain unanswered. In the big cities, elections will mostly be fair. However, he argued that elections would rely more on “money and guns” in less populated areas. He also predicted that the elections would be split more or less equally between Islamists, former National Democratic Party members, and more liberal secularists.

Maher concluded his presentation by talking about the role he sees for April 6 in the upcoming elections. He delineated three stages. The first and current stage consists of educating the masses about candidates and making sure the electorate makes informed decisions. The second stage, during the elections, will be to monitor the electoral process in collaboration with other NGOs. And the final stage, following elections, will be to turn April 6 into a watch dog organization that keeps pressure on the SCAF and the elected parliament.

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