On Thursday November 6th when Egyptians were celebrating Obama's Victory, Al Ghad Party went up in flames. You can read about the initial blogosphere reactions here and here. Today I am sharing with you Wael Nawara's statements regarding the incident.
Nawara, who is a senior official at the party and among the detainees on the day of the fire, wrote in English and in Arabic about what really happened:
The so-called "National" newspapers, indeed all channels of the so-called "National" media, tried to portray the crime as a dispute between competing factions of El Ghad Party which ended up in smoke and flames. It was a cold-blooded communication strategy which aimed at discrediting the opposition and scaring the public. It also aimed at spreading a spirit of pessimism and apathy. They wanted to say, "… look how pathetic the opposition is. Look how dirty the tactics they use. How small the personal gains and political rivalry which motivate them."
It was an intended message to the public. "You criticize the NDP so bitterly, look how pitiful the opposition is. You want to play politics, the only 'clean' club in town, at least relatively-speaking, is the NDP."
Wael Nawara cited incidents of how internal elections took place previously:
They failed to mention that El Ghad members have elected 3 different party presidents in the past 5 years. Ayman Nour was elected in Nov 2004, Ambassador Nagui El Ghatrifi was elected in Dec 2005, Attorney Ehab El Kholy was elected in March 2007, and El Ghad members were getting ready to elect a 4th president on 7th Nov 2008. I, and two other candidates, ran against Ehab El Kholy in the elections of March 2007. My friend and colleague, Ehab El Kholy, won by 16 votes, getting about 45% of the votes while I got 42% of the votes. I contested election results on the grounds that none of the candidates had a clear majority of 50% +1 vote, and requested another round between candidates of the highest votes, myself and Ehab El Kholy. I did so, peacefully, lawfully, inside the party, through the council of "Wise Men", or El Ghad Senates, who act according to the Party's bylaws as an "Internal Court" to resolve internal disputes. The Senates took several weeks then announced their verdict in my favor. I waived my rights for a second round and conceded to Ehab El Kholy and worked under his command since then. I am telling this little story, just to show that we can compete and have differences, but we can choose to solve our differences amicably, peacefully, and lawfully. El Ghad is no utopian opposition party. It has its problems, internal conflicts and limitations. But to portray the massacre of Nov 6th as a confrontation between competing factions is a gross distortion of the matter.
He also clarified the positions of former party members Mousa Mostafa Mousa and Ragab Helal Hemida:
The attack on El Ghad party by a group of thugs had nothing to do with who heads the party. Mousa Mostafa Mousa and Ragab Helal Hemida were both dismissed from the party on 18th Sep 2005, as per the verdict of the party's Senate, ratified by the Higher Council, the president – then Dr Ayman Nour- and by the General Assemblies of 20th Sep 2005 and 30th Dec 2005.
The attack on El Ghad Party on 6th Nov 2008 was a campaign commissioned by Mousa but encouraged by the security apparatus, which strives to eradicate any form of real opposition in Egypt. Ragab Helal Hemida, who came hand in hand with thugs and criminals to burn down El Ghad building, supervised a similar campaign on Al Ahrar party several years ago. He is an expert, a special agent which the regime uses to destroy and splinter opposition parties.
Nawara goes on to narrate what really happened supporting his version of the story by pictures published in El Badeel Newspaper:
In the first few days, after the events of Nov 6th, the so-called "National" newspapers spared no efforts in smearing our reputation in a filthy character-assassination campaign. Leaders of the "real" Ghad party were made to look as criminals and arsons. But when El Badeel newspaper started to publish photos from the crime scene showing Mousa and Ragab heading a group of thugs who started burning El Ghad building down, throwing rocks at the party's headquarters, setting clothes on fire and throwing them at El Ghad, then wrestled with firemen trying to prevent them from putting out the fire, then started smashing cars parked under the building, then started to lute our offices and smash furniture and antiques stolen from inside, then started dancing in Talaat Harb Square celebrating their victory in setting the building ablaze, etc., etc., etc. …, all of this happening in broad daylight, in the busiest spot of downtown Cairo, under a total absence of police in uniform.
The police mysteriously disappeared, despite advance warnings and official complaints filed by El Ghad leaders asking for protection after Mousa bluntly announced that he will attack the General Assembly. Talaat Harb Square, which is usually packed with security forces, suddenly became a Thug-land. In fact, traffic police stopped traffic to allow the attackers to proceed and complete the job at hand.
When all those photos became public … when Gameela Ismail, Vice-President and spokesperson of El Ghad, came out on Orbit and Dream Channels and showed those photos to millions of Egyptian viewers … everyone wondered … how come that only El Ghad leaders, who were trapped inside, who luckily escaped death by a slim margin, were accused of causing the damage, when in fact they were the very victims facing possible death, just a few hours before?
Then, and only then, did the Attorney General decide to call Mousa for questioning. Only then, did the regime start to notice, that the crime is too embarrassing to shove under the rug. But calling Mousa for questioning is hardly an achievement. Mousa is just a pitiful "glove" to some other mysterious hand which is determined to crush all opposition.
At the end he wonders:
… until when, will this invisible hand remain invisible and immune from questioning? Until when will this hand stay outside the realm of the law?
To those who are concerned I would like to ask a question. This pathetic lawlessness which ruled the streets of downtown Cairo on the day of November 6th, 2008; whose responsibility was it? Are we just going to throw the blame on poor Mousa, Ragab and a few other thugs? Come on. I am sure that the regime can do better than that. I think the crime deserves a bigger sacrifice.
Think a little. You can actually benefit from the situation. By putting the blame on some minister or another the regime can also get rid of him. This is a bonus at times like these. After all, let us face it, the "minister" in concern is becoming a burden on the regime and all too powerful to remain in office. After all, news of a likely cabinet shuffle is flying around. The regime is a survivor. I hope it will present a bigger lamb to the sacrifice this time.