Keeping Egypt Posted


WaPo columnist Jackson Diehl noted this week that when Ayman Nour, the liberal Egyptian opposition politician, tried to launch his campaign for September's presidential election by knocking on doors, "Police stopped him, telling him he didn't have permission. He tried to stage a conference for 1,500 of his supporters. A fire set by pro-government thugs forced the temporary clearing of the hall. When that failed to stop the meeting, the electricity was cut off."

"It gets worse," wrote Diehl. "Nour says he has been served with a court order mandating demolition of a community center he has maintained in the Cairo neighborhood of Bab al Shariya, his political base. Pro-government newspapers have reported that his penthouse apartment also will be demolished. One weekly paper that recently began appearing alongside Nour's party organ at newsstands published an article detailing how the 40-year-old parliamentarian might be assassinated: A sniper, it predicted, would open fire on his car." Nour's court case isn't looking very promising, either.

There are two things worth noting here. The first is obvious: Mubarak is trying to destroy Nour's long-term challenge (Mubarak is already assured of victory this year), and if possible Nour himself. The second noteworthy item is that the Post's editorial page has adopted Egyptian reform as a cause (Diehl is the paper's deputy editorial editor).

Mubarak is reportedly sensitive to what the US press writes about him, and if that's true, then the Post's campaign may not be entirely quixotic. Certainly, the Post's attention appears to have had results in the past. The paper's editorial page deserves credit for its campaign.