Breaking the silence

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Wed Dec 18 06:35:13 MST 2002

>From Al-Ahram weekly:

Breaking the silence

Cairo is set to host the region's biggest anti-war conference. Amira Howeidy

The silence of the "Egyptian street" vis- à-vis the imminent war on Iraq
seems to be causing the nation's intelligentsia some embarrassment. This is
not only because public demonstrations featuring loud anti-war voices have
been taking place all over the world -- except here -- but because for many,
the silence is misleading. "When I go to the vegetable vendor at the
market," says Soheir Mursi, an academic and UN consultant, "the people are
aware. They're concerned."

Mursi and a number of prominent intellectuals are trying to make sure the
Arab world breaks its silence. A war on Iraq is, after all, an Arab concern.
As a result, preparations are under way for an international conference
called the "Cairo International Campaign against Aggression on Iraq" to be
held in Cairo on 18 and 19 December.

The impressive list of participants includes former US attorney general
Ramsey Clark, former Director of the UN Humanitarian Program for Iraq Dennis
Halliday, former Assistant UN Secretary-General Vassely S Sevranchuk, New
York University Professor of international relations Norman Finklestein, and
British anti-war MP George Gallaway. Prominent Arabs and Egyptians
participating include veteran political analyst Mohamed Hassanein Heikal,
economist Samir Amin, historian Abdel- Wahab El-Messeri, Arab MK Azmi
Bishara and Arab National Conference President Khayr Al-Dein Hassib.


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