Soueif on Egyptian Elections

Novelist Ahdaf Soueif has a long piece in the Guardian about the latest round of parliamentary elections in Egypt, which have been marked by such democractic practices as the beating of voters, closing down poll stations, and molesting of opposition figures. The situation there sounds rather catastrophic, judging from the diary Soueif kept. Here’s a snippet:

Earlier today Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for the last 24 years, was sworn in for a further six. Cairo traffic came to a standstill for two hours as all routes to the People’s Assembly were closed off to the people. Now the protesters are gathering with their banners and a pair of kettledrums: “Dumdu-du-dumdum, Batel, Dum du-du-dum-dum, Batel, Hosni M’barak, Batel …” Batel means not valid, without legitimacy. Fortuitously, it rhymes with atel, unemployed, and so serves the protesters’ preferencefor chanting in rhyme: “In the name of 12 million atel, Hosni Mubarak’s rule is batel.” A new poster showing the president’s face with the word batel in flowing calligraphy across it has become overnight as iconic as the black on yellow Kefaya logo. “Dum du-dudum- dum …” They clap and drum and the posters bob up and down. And because the police – tonight – are keeping their presence light, they march.

More here.