My Father , President Mubarak, & the Egyptian Opposition!

By Osama Mahmoud El-Kadi

In 30 B.C., Egypt became a province of Rome, disappeared from history... Until... it regained its dignity and awakened to its rightful place in the world; in the revolution of the Free Officers; lead by Gamal Abdul Nasser and the free officers in 1952.

President Nasser of Egypt

Gamal Abdul Nasser

Despite the current severe criticism of President Mubarak regime today, Mubarak in his early years had some good intentions and lead some progress in many fields.

President Hosny Mubarak

Former President Hosny Mubarak

On a Very Personal Level...

In his early years, I have held a deep down gratitude and respect for Mubarak, for many reasons...

Most importantly for me, is the way he treated one of Egypt's greatest political opposition leaders of modern times, at the time of his need and death in 1981.

Who, also, happens to be my Father.

Dr Mahmoud El-kadi at the age of 34

Dr. Mahmoud El-Kadi age 34

My Father, Dr. Mahmoud El-Kadi was an Egyptian politician from 1957 to 1981, although his political career was interrupted, in the middle, for 17 years by the Nasser regime. He continued to be in opposition all his life, inside and outside Parliament.

In 1957 He was elected as an MP for the district of Banha by winning against the father of one of the senior members of the free officers.

Nasser disolvbed the parliment after 12 months during the time of the amalgamation of Syria and Egypt. When he reconveened the parliment he excluded two members, one of them was Dr El-Kadi.

In 1971, Dr. El-Kadi resumed his formal political career after 17 years and entered parliament again to become the sole opposition member of parliment in one whole parliament term of 5 years. He was joined by a handful of opposition deputies, in the second parliament from 1976 to 1980.

In 1981, he was imprisoned by President Sadat, along with twenty-three other Egyptian opposition leaders.

Following the assassination of Sadat, in 1981 and the ascendance of Mr. Mubarak to the presidency, President Mubarak immediately released all political prisoners and personally received my father straight from the prison to his office.

Dr Mahmoud El-Kadi with President Mubarak

Mubarak receiving Dr El-Kadi straight from the prison to his office

President Mubarak told my father at this meeting that during his time as vice President of Egypt under Sadat, he consistently asked Sadat to "Listen" to what the opposition are saying and repeatedly encouraged Sadat to open a dialogue with Dr. Mahmoudd El-Kadi and listen to what he has to say; Sadat has refused Mubarak request every time.

President Sadat

Dr. Mahmoud El-Kadi was a powerful, patriotic and educated politician with integrity and honor.

While being the only effective opposition leader in the Egyptian parliament from 1971 to 1980, battling corrupt politicians, questioning the government on every major issue he felt was against the interest of the Nation.

Sadat attacked him publicly in the parliament and in his many speeches, yet, he respected him and acknowledged his patriotism whenever he had an opportunity, until of course Sadat lost the plot and jailed everyone that opposed him including my father, in 1981.

While the government feared Dr. Mahmoud El-Kadi questioning and opposition, they too respected him for his good temperament, honour and objectivity at all times.

He would support the government when they were right, and severely question them when they were wrong.

President Mubarak at this meeting offered my father to work with him, My father said to him, "Mr. President, you are fine, but I cannot work with the people around you and for whatever life left in me I would like to stay in opposition."

President Mubarak respected my father's wishes and asked him to stay in touch regularly with him for consultation. My father thanked him and went back to Alexandria, to continue what he considered to be a sacred role, "The Opposition" that shows the way to the government and shadows it.

My father was, very much influenced, by his education in Great Britain and admired so much the political system in the UK and the role of opposition in their great parliament.

He repeatedly quoted the famous American President; saying, "Opposition is like a whip on my back but also the light that shows me the way ahead".

Dr El-Kadi with Prime Minster Higazi in 1976

"Dr. El-Kadi (Right) with Prime Minster Higazi, in the 1976 Parliament"

Mohamed Heikal, the famous Egyptian writer, in his book "Autumn of Fury" wrote about Sadat's life and politics, and wrote about Dr. Mahmoud El-Kadi.

    "As can be seen, Parliament was not inactive in drawing attention to abuses - or, rather, it would be more accurate to say that there were a handful of deputies who felt it their duty do so. The most active of these was Dr. Mahmud El-Kadi, a prominent engineer and one of the best parliamentarians Egypt had ever produced. It was he, who raised the question of the buses, steel, cement and other scandals. I was not surprised to find him a fellow prisoner in September 1981."

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal

Life was too short for my father, at the age of 58 he fell ill with Cancer, in 1982.

President Mubarak, on hearing the news of his illness, sent his own Helicopter to Alexandria to take him to the best Military hospital in Cairo.

The President ordered his treatment in America, the socialist party arranged for him to be treated in East Germany. All politicians from all different sides of politics visited him in hospital: ministers, past ministers, and even, Mr. Khalid Abdul Nasser visited him.

Albeit, my father had never been a member of any political party, and remained an independent MP all his career.

Time was not on my father's side, and he passed away before he could be moved abroad for treatment.

In his funeral, politicians from all parties came to pay respect...

The Egyptian Army, against all rules and regulations authorised his coffin, to be wrapped in the Egyptian flag.

The Prime Minster at the time, Dr. Foad Muhi Eldeen attended his funeral, while President Mubarak was abroad on an official visit.

The President sent me a telegram for condolences, with some kind and calming words.

In fact, I think that the Egyptian opposition should learn a lesson or two from Dr. Mahmoud El-Kadi's life, and role as the only leader of opposition in the seventies who was armed only with the truth, honour, dignity, knowledge and objectivity.

they should learn the art and dignity of being in the opposition.

They should learn, that the role of the opposition is sacred, objective and a constructive instrument of power, and building nations.

See the opposition in Great Britain, in France, in Germany and in America.

They should learn, from Dr. El-Kadi that opposition is NOT just about saying "I Object" or making personal gains by bullying the government.

Political opposition in the parliament; it is about serving the nation, about opposing wrong doing while explaining the rational, and giving solutions, and most importantly, it is about making legislations to organise and enrich the lives of millions of Egyptians.

It is easy, in a developing and poor country like Egypt, for some people to exploit others, their agony, poverty, emotions and feelings, for their own gain. This is neither honourable nor sustainable opposition or politics that builds great nations.

Nowadays in Egypt, the political opposition is virtually non-existent, and ineffective. Whatever exists of it is still living in the past era of making propaganda, and inflaming speeches... They ask for reform, but do not state what they want to reform... They just inflame, and make speeches to each other, Goodness knows why.

Is there a Strategy for developing Egypt?

Despite the efforts and the achievements of the Egyptian Government in the last few years, I feel that the country needs an overall grand strategy that defines where Egypt stands and where it wants to be in five, ten, fifteen years and work towards achieving it.

For a starter, I do not believe that there is any progress made anywhere in the developed world without enlarging and strengthen the middle class.

Observing the American election and other elections in Europe, one find the biggest focus of the candidates is on the middle class.

The middle class are the engineers, layers, teachers, doctors, police officers, army officers, accountants, and small business owners and so on and so forth, they are the engine that drives prosperity and the economy of any nation.

The middle class are the segment of the economy that enriches both the lower class by employing their services and the higher class by running their businesses.

Without a deliberate and focused strategy that deals with the middle class in any nation, I very much doubt that any real political or economical progress will ever be made at the scale that enrich nations.

Marxism and communism biggest mistake and its own kiss of death was its believe that the lower class are the pillar of the economy. While the lower class are extremely important as the wheel of the economy of any nation, without the engine that drives forward no real progress can be made.

One look at the history of Russia and Eastern Europe in the last fifty years, one must realise this eternal fact and the disastrous results of focusing mainly on the lower class while obliterating the middle of high classes completely.

These countries lost its engine that power its economy and progressed to the extent that did not exceed a horse cart moving forward.

Nations like America and Western Europe realised the folly of such thinking and pushed the middle class to power its engine to rocket to the prosperity they are enjoying today.

I hope one day we learn the lesson and make real progress in Egypt.

Osama El-kadi 2007

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