Thursday, October 12, 2006

The army goes after a famous name

Talaat Sadat may be a member of the parliament and he may be a member of the Egyptian parliament, but that isn't stopping the Egyptian military from threatening him with jail for speaking his mind.

According to news reports
, Sadat this week was stripped of his parlimentary immunity, a step that Ayman Nour and others can tell him usually leads to criminal prosecution. His crime is speaking publicly about his belief that members of the Egyptian military were involved in the assassination of his uncle, who was killed in 1981 while reviewing a military parade.

Sadat is a controversial figure, who has pointed blame not just as the Egyptian military but several other governments. So he's on the edge of Egyptian politics. And there is reason to believe that the main Egyptian military officials weren't involved in the assassination since many of them were standing next to Sadat at the time. None of this really matters. The bottom line is that anytime someone steps out of the narrow realm of accepted political discourse, the powers that be come after him or her.

There's no denying that Egypt has a more vigorous political environment than many other countries of the region. This is testament to the true spirit of the place and the people. The Sadat assassination set in motion a number of government powers under the State of Emergency that for a time and on the surface were very successful in combatting a very real armed threat. The problem was once those powers were unleashed, soon they were turned on others: intellectuals, political opponents, women's groups, homosexuals, religious minorities, university professors and of course members of parliament. It was not just the targeted groups that suffered: It was Egypt.

And of course, that is a lesson that should not be lost on Americans.


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