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Egypt's democracy for the bureaucracy

Filed under: Egypt ~ Middle East

Today's "referendum" in Egypt on proposed constitutional changes passed by with a dismal, low turnout as most people there already know that the outcome is predetermined. Yet while most people are stuck in traffic or sitting down for a meal, there are some strident believers in Egypt's democracy who cannot allow for such leisures. Meet the Egyptians bureaucrat who, known for an average of five minutes of productivity a day, is working overtime to make sure that Mubarak's changes go through. In fact, they seemed to be the only ones, and not even under the clearest of consciousness. Read on:
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said that in the southern Asyut governorate it had monitored local municipality cars broadcasting loudhailer warnings that those not voting would be fined 100 Egyptian pounds (about 17,5 US dollars).

Observers also said public buses were being used across Cairo to take civil servants and workers to vote in the referendum, which has been met by indifference among large sections of the population.
At one polling station in a Giza school, several dozen teachers and civil servants reported difficulties with voting procedures.

'My name and the names of my colleagues were enlisted against our will,' said one public school teacher. Another civil servant said she was told her salary would be halved for a month if she did not vote for the amendments.
Vote or die? Mubarak seems to have taken P. Diddy's advice too strictly. In Egypt, you vote or you lose your job! The only only opinion that counts is that of the bureaucrat or high-ranking party member, and this so-called election shows that their opinion is universal. Will we see a 99.99% approval as we did in Anwar al-Sadat's days, or will Mubarak shave a few percentage points off to placate the United States?

Does it matter?

Marc Lynch has the smartest and snarkiest quotables: "Most Arab outlets are reporting that Condoleeza Rice softened her criticisms of the referendum after meeting with Mubarak. How humiliating, how predictable. Abou el-Gheit is spooning out the terrorism angle - we must do this to protect ourselves, just as you did with your Patriot Act - and Rice (and at least some of the media) seems to be eating it up whatever the flavor. Yes, how could Egypt possibly fight its great terror menace while judges are supervising elections?" Zing!

Also, check out Sandmonkey, who writes about his own experience just yesterday with the riot police putting down a demonstration that he participated in.

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