Really it was a good and unprecedented step from the American Center (Alexandria) to adopt for the first time a session destined for the human rights, especially in a very thorny area like monitoring the elections, whereas we expect here in Egypt having the municipalities’ elections in April 2008.
Frankly speaking, I (Ahmed Moustafa) and Mr. (Mohamed khalid El-Tonsy) the presenters of this session did not believe that either Mrs. Samia Khalil the responsible for the activities at the center or Mr. Justin Sibrell (the Director and the First Secretary of the US Ambassador in Egypt) will accept having this session and scheduled it for February 25th 2008 in their program.A lot of people who visit the American center was wondering, really, is it true? some people I know could not believe that I would be the panelist, because they feel that it was very late for me, not for a reason belongs to me personally, but for reasons belong to some people thinking by mistake that I’m furious and not qualified to present a presentation for a difficult human rights political issue like that.
A lot forgot that I was one of the pioneers who studied both presentation and organization skills during an intensive course at AMIDEAST Alexandria funded by Ford Foundation from April till August 2000, not only that but also, my studies are political sciences, therefore, I have both the academic and professional practical sides as apprentice in that field.The session was divided to 2 parts, the first one I did present a data show presentation covering the theoretical side concerning the meaning of the monitoring process, a historical note of monitoring which took place for the first time in Europe in Moldavia 1857, the objectives of the process, why we monitor the elections, the conditions of international and local monitoring, the fields covered by monitors and last giving some terminologies, furthermore, I revealed the good impact of the human rights and monitoring the elections upon the economic field, and gave examples like the nomination for World-Cup for Football Soccer and how we failed as Egyptian in that nomination in comparison with both S. Africa and Morocco when one of the factors was the human rights, however, on the other side both elections in Mauritania and Morocco respectively and the volume of socio-economic aids they got accordingly.
On parallel Mr. Mohamed El-Tonsy started to talk about the association (the Egyptian Association for Legal and Constitutional Human Rights, then he was describing the facts and the real situation in some constituencies here in Alexandria, giving objective analysis for the process concerning both presidential and parliamentary elections in respect of both advantages and disadvantages, then stated the results and finally expressed our recommendations for having better elections and monitoring.The second part was as usual for questions which were really good, and some of them were frustrating, because at least 4 of the attendees asked about the feasibility of having mentoring in a country in their point of view still has a lag and lack in democracy practices, therefore, we answered that if anyone thinking in that way, we will never get progressed, because the percentage of the people who really participated in the latest elections in Alexandria was ranging in between (15-20)% and this is a very low rate, and without any doubt, without the efforts of the pioneers of both civil society and intellects here in Egypt, the law would never be changed to authorize them to monitor the elections.The second main question was about the women participation in both elections process as a candidate/nominee and as a voter, because in Egypt we have very little participation of women in parliament, therefore we highlighted on having the proposed rational list, not only that, to create some programs adapted to better women democratic practices and empowerment.
The third question was about the youth and their political participation especially in the existed parties, therefore, I answered that they have to try the parties, even if, we have many conservations upon their current role in society especially in achieving some progress in both reform and change in our country, however, it is better to recognize this experience, because it is worthy, even if there are some short, at least to participate actively and having the honor of the trial.The fourth one was about the Copts/Christians in Egypt and why they are marginalized according to their assumptions from the real political participation, I answered them that I really like the Christian community here in Egypt, because it is really well organized either in church or outside the church, and I shall give you a very genuine example in respect of the unemployment, the Christian community give each unemployed Christian citizen a monthly incentive, not only that but also, the church helps always the sons of their ministry in education, health and in finding a good job, the matter that we miss as Muslims in our life (the social solidarity), therefore due to this perfect experience, why they are not participating actively in political parties in bigger numbers and due this organization of their life they can reach good ranks in parties by-which qualifying them to be nominees/candidates for any acting parties here in Egypt.
The fifth question was about the oppression of the state of having such activities like that concerning monitoring the elections and the other political activities, therefore, we answered that Egypt ratified all the agreements and treaties that belong to human rights, therefore, in case of violations from its side, it may bring either blame, criticism or sanctions upon us, if not achieving a progress in that field as the whole world, moreover, the human rights are not a grant or a package gifted by governments whatsoever, but they are basic and fundamental rights for mankind Allah/God had given it to him from the time of creating the human being, but the problem not in states, but in both media, civil society and education which did not act and misapply their right role in society until now concerning raising the public awareness about human rights, because to claim for your right as an individual is not favorable as the claim of a group of people in the said forms.
At the end, we mentioned that we do this awareness because we love our country Egypt, not the opposite, then we proposed if we could cooperate with the center to have a 6 month program concerning this important issue of awareness to reach the people who really need to know or to be helped, not only that to have another sessions concerning raising the awareness about the laws that belong to human rights especially, Labor Law in force No. 12/2003 and the Law of Civil Society No. 84/2002.Last but not least, we would like to thank and send or best regards to all the people who participate in that session.
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