CAIRO: The Kefaya movement for change announced that they are boycotting US President Barack Obama’s speech today at Cairo University, describing the US president’s visit as a “dose of artificial oxygen for Mubarak’s “regime in crisis.
Kefaya leader Abdel Halim Qandil told a press conference yesterday that Kefaya planned to stage a protest on the eve of Obama’s visit in downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
“We’re staging the protest and press conference the day before Obama’s visit because, as you know, tomorrow all the roads will be closed, Qandil explained.
“They have turned this into an event about security – as with any and all occasions, he continued.
Three main reasons are given for Kefaya’s refusal of the US president’s visit in a statement read out by Qandil.
“US policies in the region have not changed despite the promises which accompany Obama’s election. These are institutional policies which are not altered when individuals are replaced. The priority is Israel and the support of the Arab dictators who are Washington’s allies, the statement reads.
The Kefaya statement describes the ruling Egyptian regime as Washington’s “primary client and calls Obama’s visit “a political reward for the regime’s serving of Israeli security interests, hosting of Israeli war criminals, tightening of the siege on Gaza and brutal treatment of Egyptians in Sinai.
Finally, the statement says that change in Egypt “will not happen from the US president’s office.
“America is the enemy of both ambitions for change and the interests of the Egyptian people . There is a vital link between freeing Egypt of US-Israeli domination and freeing Egyptians from the regime . subservient to [this domination].
Qandil announced that he himself has received an invitation from the Egyptian presidency to Obama’s Cairo University speech but said that he would not be attending following a decision by Kefaya’s coordinating committee to boycott the US visit.
Qandil expressed surprise at the invitation, “I’ve been the editor of three newspapers in the past and the president hasn’t even invited me to the opening of a bridge.
The Kefaya leader suggested that the invitation of Mubarak’s political opponents was an attempt by the Americans to “underline their democracy.
“The invitation may have been agreed on by both the Americans and the presidency. Perhaps the Americans – after the widespread criticism of Obama’s visit and his support for a regime which violates human rights – wanted to invite well-known opponents as a way of underlining their democracy.
“This reason alone is enough for me to refuse. We won’t be a part of the detention camp which is Obama’s speech and give legitimacy to a regime which has no legitimacy, he said.
Qandil was also critical of the instructions contained in invitations to the speech which ban attendees bringing placards or signs saying, “This is inappropriate for anyone who respects himself.
He warned that Kefaya members who attend Obama’s speech “should no longer consider themselves members of the coalition for change.