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The other war for democracy

Amid hope for accelerated democratic reform in Egypt, liberal opposition party al-Ghad (the “Tomorrow Party”), was given the green-light in November to formally organize and ultimately contest elections in the 75-million strong state. It is only the third party in 30 years to be granted authority approval to publicly campaign against a Mubarak agenda.

On January 25th, the party’s leader, Ayman Nour, was arrested on trumped up charges of forgery, relating to the party’s application for official status the previous autumn. A Cairo court has granted the authorities leave to detain Mr. Nour for a further 45 days and last Friday, a small demonstration protesting the detention of Nour and other opposition and reformist campaigners took place in the Egyptian capital.

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) has accused the police of torture and demanded the immediate release of Nour. Washington and London have expressed their “concern”:

“The arrest, in our mind, raises questions about the outlook for a democratic process in Egypt,”

said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, who later claimed not to have been taking the piss.

The new Secretary of State won a few friends last week with her visit to Europe and talk of the US being a force for democracy wherever the world’s oppressed yearn to be free. While we wait for Bush beef to go with the Rice rhetoric, you can write here:

Egyptian Embassy
26 South Street London W1Y 6DD

to protest the Egyptian government’s latest assault on domestic opposition and contempt for progressive politics.

Alternatively, write to you local MP or Congressman and keep Messrs Bush and Blair honest regarding their support for worldwide democratisation.

Oh, Mr. Livingstone, next time you’re scratching round for moderate Muslim mouthpieces to invite to your fair city, consider the man who currently sits in an Egyptian cell for advocating democratic reform, rather than homophobic, misogynist fundamentalists, you egocentric embarrassment to the Labour movement, you.

Update: Kudos to Graham Watson, MEP for picking up this story.