Discontent Swells In Hosni Mubarak's Egypt Hosni Mubarak is Egypt's longest serving ruler since the mid-19th century. But not all Egyptians are happy that he may run for president again next year. After 29 years under Mubarak, many Egyptians are fed up with enduring poverty and police abuses.
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Discontent Swells In Hosni Mubarak's Egypt

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Discontent Swells In Hosni Mubarak's Egypt

Discontent Swells In Hosni Mubarak's Egypt

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This week, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is going to take a look at Hosni Mubarak's Egypt and she sends her first report from Cairo.

U: (Foreign language spoken)

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Few holidays evoke a patriotic display here in Egypt like October 6th. That's the day Egyptian forces launched a successful attack across the Suez Canal during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. This year, President Mubarak used the occasion for a televised appeal to his countrymen, to be proud of their nation and government.

INSKEEP: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: He spoke of how much Egypt is today, economically and militarily, than back in 1973. He encouraged cooperation between Egypt's Muslims and Christians and vowed to fight terrorists and extremists.

M: (through translator) We continue to face many challenges but we continue on our path with confidence, knowing we are on the right track.

SARHADDI NELSON: Nabil Fahmy, a former Egyptian ambassador to the United States, gives Mubarak high marks for what he's accomplished in 30 years.

M: You have to look at the context of where Egypt was and what the challenges were when he came to power.

SARHADDI NELSON: Fahmy says Mubarak has since modernized the Egyptian economy and paved the way for increasing democracy. He points out that there are now 24 political parties - eight times as many as there were when Mubarak took office. Fahmy says there have also been increasing press freedoms.

M: If you look at what's being said in the media in Egypt - whether satellite television, Internet, the printed press - it is far beyond anything you could imagine 30 years ago.

SARHADDI NELSON: That's not how 29-year-old Ahmed Maher sees it.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: Critics say the law allows Egyptian security forces to operate with impunity.


SARHADDI NELSON: Said's defenders believe the police targeted him because he had shared an online video showing illegal police activities. Police officials allege Said was a drug peddler.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: His mother, Leila Marzou Said, says what happened to her youngest son shows how much the state fails to care for its citizens. Another of her sons is Ahmad Said, who is a naturalized American citizen.

M: Only that will happen in Egypt. 'Cause we are silent all this time waiting for anyone to do something - and nothing's been done.

SARHADDI NELSON: Gaser Abd El Razek is on the board of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. He says while the situation is troubling, there's little anyone outside the government can do about it.

M: The impunity will be challenged by one of two things: either the regime itself correcting the problems, and it's not under siege, pressure to do that, putting in mind that it only survives because of that security apparatus.

SARHADDI NELSON: Abd El Razek says in the mid-'90s there were about 35,000 such detainees at any given time, many of them from Islamist groups.

M: Today, the figures vary from 1,000 to 5,000. So, a huge drop in the number of people that are in fact in prison right now without trial. The difference now is that it's so random it comes from all walks of life.

SARHADDI NELSON: Two staffers for independent candidate Gameela Ismail were arrested for handing out her flyers before the official two-week campaign period began. Never mind that some ruling party candidates have had their posters and banners up for weeks.


SARHADDI NELSON: Like in this Alexandria neighborhood of El-Gaharea(ph).

M: (foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: Here, Said Hussein is campaigning for an independent candidate backed by the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Hussein says many shopkeepers in the neighborhood complain to him that police officers came to their places of work weeks ago and forced them to display banners and posters of ruling party candidates.


SARHADDI NELSON: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo.


INSKEEP: You can learn more about Hosni Mubarak's government. You can keep in touch with NPR programming through your local station's website, at NPR.org, on smartphones, on your iPad or on Facebook or Twitter. We're @MorningEdition and @NPRInskeep.


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