For lack of a leader in Egypt


Mohamed ElBaradei represents the underground culture more clearly than any underground starving hip hop artist, or indie rocker who has refused to compromise.

Refaat Mohamed
4 November 2012

Most of the revolutionaries and rebels are fans of the various underground sub-cultures.  They love the underground for several reasons. First of all it is raw, the talent and the voice, not constrained by rules, and academics dictating how they should be applied.  Second, all the rules of business-making and achieving mass appeal don’t apply in the underground. A member of the underground performs for the sake of performing.  Plus there is a thrill that you get while you are involved in the underground scene that you simply cannot explain.

People ask, “So what is the point?  You are doing something that the common man or woman in the street doesn’t like one bit, and apparently you are not making any money, which could seriously help you promote both your artistry and your career, and give you some real future as an individual”. Agents come with their offers of a deal,  “Just sign it, and leave it to our executives, and our marketing team to adapt your talent so that everybody likes what you do.”  And the reply is “Ask Mohamed ElBaradei: I think he knows the answer I’m going to give you.”

Mohamed ElBaradei in many ways represents the underground culture more clearly than any underground starving hip hop artist, or indie rocker who has refused to compromise. Mohamed ElBaradei refused to sign up for the deal. He refused to play the game, because as we all know the game is corrupt and evil. Not just in Egypt. Not just in MENA, but in the whole world. The levels of corruption may be even higher in Egypt. But he wanted to change the rules of the game. And so he refused to be a politician.

It could be silly idealism, it could be fear, it could be noble, or he could have just wanted to be true to himself, but I cannot help but fantasize about what might have happened if Mohamed ElBaradei, with his supporters, and all that he represents, had stood up, fought, and managed to attain what they wanted, and deserved. He could have lost as a presidential candidate, but he would have won more respect in the political arena, and more of the love and support of the people.  This is not about ElBaradei as a person but as a symbol of the revolution, and a leader for the secular and liberal parties, because these parties certainly needed all the support they could get after the former Mubarak regime, SCAF, and lastly the Islamists, all had a go at destroying this sector in the media.

Morsi didn’t have the odds on his side in the beginning, but he signed the deal, and he fought to win the presidential race, and now he is the president. He may not be the brightest, but he sure made a lot of effort, and I can’t help but want to ask ElBaradei - why he didn’t make the same effort?

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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