Wednesday, March 21

Ask your local newspapers to feature Egypt's big news

Egypt's about to get a government like the worst of the sub-Saharan African dictatorships.

Contested Presidential elections will be virtually impossible, since candidates must come from a licensed party with so much representation in all elected bodies that in practice only the NDP will ever get over the bar.

The opposition, from the MB to Kefaya, has been placed in an impossible position. Participating in the referendum will legitimize the results, particularly since nobody doubts for an instant that the regime will falsify the results if they go badly. The most extreme option, a collective resignation from Parliament, seems to have been taken off the table: even the MB seems to feel that this would be going too far, and that this would only please the government which would be able to replace the troublesome MB deputies with more accomodating deputies. That leaves only boycott, which will not in the end have much impact - as above, even if only 10% turn out and vote, the regime will happily claim 70%.

At the end of the day, there's only one opinion which Mubarak and the NDP really care about: the United States. The Constitutional crisis has not been front page news here, and even where it has been covered, the criticism has been tepid.

Call your local public radio station. Call national public radio stations. Write 60 Minutes. Call your local newspapers either asking their foreign bureau to work on it, since you want to read about it, or asking them to buy an AP or Reuters story on it. Heck, write Jon Stewart and see if he'll skewer Mubarak--maybe he can put a Scottish beret on a picture of him. Just drop a line saying you're curious about the situation and want to hear more.

Can't hurt. Takes 10 minutes. Might help.

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