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Egypt in the Era of Hosni Mubarak

Egypt in the Era of Hosni Mubarak

Galal Amin
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 180
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  • Book Info
    Egypt in the Era of Hosni Mubarak
    Book Description:

    Galal Amin once again turns his attention to the shaping of Egyptian society and the Egyptian state in the half-century and more that has elapsed since the Nasserite revolution, this time focusing on the era of President Mubarak. He looks at corruption, poverty, the plight of the middle class, and of course, the economy, and directs his penetrating gaze toward the Mubarak regime’s uneasy relationship with the relatively free press it encouraged, the vexing issue of presidential succession, and Egypt’s relations with the Arab world and the United States. Addressing such themes from the perspective of an active participant in Egyptian intellectual life throughout the era, Galal Amin portrays the Mubarak regime’s stance in the domestic and international arenas as very much a product of history, which, while not exonerating the regime, certainly helps to explain it.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-054-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    On Tuesday 25 January 2011, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets demanding the immediate resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Demonstrations took place in almost every major city in Egypt and were not confined to the underprivileged classes. They included a large number of highly educated members of the upper and lower middle classes and an unprecedented number of women, of all classes, some of whom came to the streets carrying their young children on their shoulders.

    This ‘revolution,’ which undoubtedly deserves the name, took the world and even the Egyptians themselves by surprise, for it was probably...

  4. 1 The Soft State
    (pp. 7-20)

    About fifty years ago, when I, together with several other Egyptians who were sent to study economics abroad on state-sponsored fellowships, was trying to discover the secrets of economic development, there were three or four writers who enjoyed our especial reverence and respect. We would snatch up and devour anything they wrote, considering it the last word on the subject of development and backwardness. One of those names, whose penetrating insights and broad horizon distinguished him from most economists, was the Swedish economist and sociologist Karl Gunnar Myrdal. He was one of the last of a generation marked by broad...

  5. 2 Corruption
    (pp. 21-44)

    Upon hearing the word ‘corruption,’ what may immediately come to mind is a government employee or official in the central or local government who abdicates the responsibility of performing a task for the public good, in pursuit of private gain. An example of this would be a government employee accepting a bribe in return for disregarding a court order to demolish an apartment building or remove unlicensed floors, for permitting the importation of tainted food products, or for allowing the sale of polluted drinking water, and so on.

    The temptation to engage in such acts of corruption can be expected...

  6. 3 The Economy
    (pp. 45-64)

    In judging the economic performance of a country like Egypt, three standard indicators are usually used to assess its success or failure. What has happened to per capita income, that is, the rate of growth in total output minus the rate of population growth? What are the major components of this income (or national output)? Or, in other words, what is the relative contribution to total output coming from agriculture, manufacturing, petroleum products, tourism, and services? (This is what we usually refer to as economic structure.) What has happened to income distribution among various segments of society? Is it becoming...

  7. 4 The Poor
    (pp. 65-80)

    A few years ago I was on a train, returning to Cairo from Alexandria. About five minutes after the train had left the station, a young woman of about twenty-five entered the car carrying a pencil in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. She stopped at each row of seats and asked the passengers what they would like to have for dinner along the trip. This was not a new sight to me, but several things about this young woman caught my eye. She was neither pretty nor ugly, and there was nothing about her face...

  8. 5 The Pashas
    (pp. 81-84)

    In our younger days we used to laugh at what we would sometimes hear about what happened between King Farouk and his friends. For amusement he would jokingly address as ‘Pasha’ one of his retinue, or even an ordinary citizen who happened to be lucky enough to meet the king, and the man would then suddenly become a real pasha. For, in those days, anything that was uttered by the king was considered a command, and whatever the king ordered became reality.

    In that way, many people who came in contact with the king for one reason or another won...

  9. 6 The Middle Class
    (pp. 85-100)

    The middle class in Egypt today is a defeated and humiliated class. No wonder it also has little enthusiasm for national issues and its productivity is low in both the economic and cultural spheres. Things were not always this way. There was a time in the life of this class when it felt itself clearly distinguished from the lower class; it was very self-confident, aware of its own worth, full of hopes for itself and the country, politically active, and highly productive in the cultural arena.

    In this chapter I trace some important changes that came over the Egyptian middle...

  10. 7 The Intellectuals
    (pp. 101-110)

    If corruption has indeed spread so widely in Egypt’s economic and political life, how could it have spared Egypt’s intellectual life?

    When one remembers or reads about the prevailing cultural climate in the monarchical era, it seems that there was nothing to prompt the spread of corruption among intellectuals the way there is today: not in the type of government of the day, not in the nature of the education they received, not in economic conditions, and not in the media.

    The monarch sat at the summit of power, but, unlike the president of the republic in the new regime...

  11. 8 The Press
    (pp. 111-120)

    When President Sadat announced in the mid-1970s that he would grant freedom to form political parties in Egypt and that he would permit each party to have its own newspaper, this of course caused great joy, even if that joy was for many mixed with some doubt and reservation. For this man announcing freedom of the press was not known, whether from his political history or his personal inclinations, for his liberalism or tolerance of opposition views. The stories we had heard about his political history before the revolution told of his participation in some assassination attempts, his Nazi sympathies,...

  12. 9 Religious Discourse
    (pp. 121-132)

    Over the course of its long history, extending more than a thousand years, al-Azhar, with its mosque and university, has been regarded by Egyptians as a religious symbol but also as a national one. It has remained since its founding (in ad 960) a bastion of Islam and of the Arabic language, and it has been in many periods of its history also a bastion of Egyptian nationalism. Despite all the hardships it has faced during the last one hundred years, al-Azhar has continued to graduate some of the most distinguished of Egyptian thinkers, such as Muhammad Abduh and Taha...

  13. 10 Alienation
    (pp. 133-146)

    Every one of us has probably experienced a feeling of alienation at some period in one’s life, of short or long duration. This could happen, for example, upon finding oneself in a new country where everything seems unfamiliar, or among people whose language one does not know, or who do not know one’s own language. It is a painful feeling, sometimes too painful to bear. What about the disenchantment one might feel while remaining in one’s own country, and in the midst of one’s own family and friends? What could be the origin of the feeling of being alienated without...

  14. 11 Mubarak’s Successor
    (pp. 147-158)

    The political scene in Egypt in late 2010 seemed to be full of riddles and contradictions. Every day people saw proof that Egypt was a very soft state and at the same time a tough one. Soft to the point that it could not implement a judge’s ruling or even enforce respect for traffic lights, but tough enough to be able to apply torture to people who dared oppose it and to shield those committing the torture from punishment. It was capable of bringing traffic to a halt and delaying people going about their private concerns for hours day after...

  15. 12 Egypt and the Arabs
    (pp. 159-166)

    Many people, in Egypt and elsewhere, have for a long time noticed and commented on the gradual erosion of Egypt’s place in the Arab world. Egyptian intellectuals are pained by the memory of the day when Egypt behaved and was treated rather like the mother hen of the rest of the Arabs. Egypt was the ‘mecca’ of Arab politicians before they took an important decision in their relations with another Arab state, or with one of the great powers, or even with regard to some important aspect of their own domestic affairs. What has happened exactly to change all this?...

  16. 13 Egypt and the United States
    (pp. 167-172)

    For nearly thirty-five years, Egypt has kept saying yes without deviation to whatever the United States asks of it: in its foreign policy, its policy toward the Arabs, its relations with Israel, and its economic policy. The result has been a continuous decline in Egypt’s political and economic standing internationally and within the Arab world while Israel has been increasing its gains at Egypt’s and Arab expense. If this is indeed the case, why did Egypt find it so difficult to say no to the United States?

    It is not, as many may think, the huge economic burden that Egypt...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 173-173)