A young university student decides to put Egyptian democracy to the test by joining an opposition party, giving his support to one of the other presidential candidates and revealing his real name in print.
Should I sign this article with my name?
A lot of people would advise me not to. Fine, but how can I ever know if I have the right of free speech?
I have a Portuguese and a Brazilian friend who decided to test democracy by wearing shirts that say on them, “Mubarak, enough!”
So I thought, why don't I do the same to see for myself if there is democracy or not? Maybe it is possible to get Mubarak out of power but nobody has ever tried.
Maybe the 99.9% he used to get in the referendum was true and not fake because nobody went and said no.
Maybe opposition parties are weak because we never gave them our support.
Maybe the state-controlled newspapers are usually biased in Mubarak's favour because we buy them and never boycott them.
Maybe police officers treat us in a bad way because we always receive their offences with a smile.
So I decided not to wait for democracy to knock on my door and go and fight for it. I decided not to wait for rulers to give me my rights but to go and get them myself.
The question now is where should I begin?? Should I go and be part of a demonstration against Mubarak on Tahrir Square (a famous square in downtown Cairo) or should I join an opposition party or what????
Joining an opposition party seemed a good option to me for the following reasons:
-It is not against the law.
-It contributes to turning Egypt from an only-one-major-party system into a multi-major-parties system.
-To prove to myself that I've not been brainwashed by the state-controlled media.
I decided to join the el-Ghad (Tomorrow) liberal party located at Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo.
So I took a taxi there and, when I reached the square, I looked around to locate it and, finally, I found a sign with Ayman Nour's (president of the party and a presidential candidate) picture on it. I found a police officer sitting on a chair in front of the building which confirmed to me that this was the party headquarters. So, I went up to him and we had this conversation:
ME: Is el-Ghad party in this building?
ME: Nothing, I just want to join the party.
HIM (helplessly in a low voice): Oh yeah, they are on the third floor.
Wow! That wasn't so hard.
I took the elevator and went up to the third floor. I found an open door and a sign above it which read ‘Ayman Nour Legal Consultancy Office'.
I entered the office and found a lot of people sitting and talking politics and then I went to the secretary and we had the following conversation:
ME: Is this el-Ghad party, please??
ME: Great. I want to be a member.
He opened a drawer and gave me an application form and the pen that he was using.
HIM: Fill in this application and give me three photos and your ID to photocopy and bring it back.
I filled in the form, gave him my ID and three pictures.
ME: So, am I now a member??
HIM: Sure you are.
ME: So can I talk to anyone here?
HIM: Yeah sure, Mr Abdul Rahman el-Ghamrawy is sitting over there.
I went up to him and introduced myself. We had a kind of quick conversation because he was writing an article to be published in the party's newspaper. But what I really wanted to know was why it didn't say el-Ghad Party on the door or the building. He explained to me that they do not have enough money to set up a real headquarters, so Nour donated his office to be the party's headquarter. el-Ghamrawy said mockingly that America had not sent the money yet – there are rumours that America is backing and supporting Ayman Nour.
Afterwards, I left the building feeling good about myself and looking at all Mubarak's banners and pictures that totally covers the country and said to myself “all these empty words did not succeed in gaining my support. I am not brainwashed. I am not brainwashed.” And Mubarak passed the first part of the democracy test.
Finally, do you think now I should sign this article with my name or not?
Hmmmmmmmmmm. I will sign it and go for the second part of the democracy test and see if our president is going to pass it or not.
Ayman Nour supporter