Monday, June 16, 2008

Anti-Mubarak book launched despite obstacles

June 16, 2008-Daily Star-Egypt

CAIRO: Around 1,000 people, including writers, politicians and activists gathered Sunday at the Press Syndicate to celebrate the launch of Abdel-Halim Qandil’s latest book on President Hosni Mubarak’s rule and the future of Egypt.
The launch of “Al-Ayam Al-Akheera” (The Last Days) faced some obstacles when Qandil’s supporters failed to obtain approvals to host it at the syndicate’s conference hall.
As a last resort, the book-signing event was held on the fourth floor and its corridors.
Members of the Journalists’ Syndicate claim, however, that the elevator was reprogrammed to only reach as high as the third floor, leaving the emergency staircase as the only route to reach the fourth floor and beyond.
“The syndicate chairman believes the book launch will negatively affect the interests [of the Journalists’ Syndicate] and its relations with the state as the book directly criticizes the president,” head of the syndicate’s freedom committee Mohamed Abdel Quddous told Daily News Egypt.
The 220-page book is a compilation of a series of articles Qandil previously published about the past 30 years in Egypt’s history with an emphasis on President Hosni Mubarak’s reign and that of other figures on the political scene.
The book explores the different scenarios for Egypt’s future from the prism of diverse and conflicting forces like the army, the president’s son Gamal Mubarak and the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.
Qandil’s supporters came from across the country to attend the event. Bedouin activist Khalid Arafat spent six hours on the road from Al-Arish in North Sinai to support Qandil and have his copy signed.
“This book indicates our insistence on changing the dreadful situation we are in,” Arafat noted. “Corruption and poverty are the products of this regime.”
However, Qandil’s supporters believe that amid the political chaos Egypt is going through, the book is likely to be confiscated. “‘Al-Ayam Al-Akheera’ is already being withdrawn from the market,” Abdel Quddous noted.
“We are entering into a phase of pressure from the regime and its security bodies where the emergency law is being applied on politicians and activists rather than murderers and thieves,” said co-founder of the Kefaya Movement for Change George Ishaq.
“We won’t rest until we are free of tyranny,” award-winning novelist Alaa Al-Aswany said.
Qandil, a journalist and a Kefaya co-founder, is known for his bold criticism of Mubarak and his family whether in print or on his satellite TV appearances.

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