Jun 15, 2011

Who's afraid of Mohamed El Baradei?

It seems that Mohamed El Baradei, the soft-spoken Nobel Peace Prize winner and
prospective Egyptian presidential runner, is a man to watch out and fear. Why else would Egyptian state TV ban his appearance on one of its programs?

The Mubarak regime had a long list of personalities who were banned from appearing on state TV. The list included outspoken critics of the regime as well as Islamist clerics of various persuasions. It was clear that El Baradei was a persona non grata, for he never made an appearance on state TV. After the revolution, the ban seems to have been lifted. Islamists became regular guests on TV shows and the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide was given ample and celebratory airspace.

When it was announced that El Baradei was scheduled to appear with popular preacher Amr Khaled, who had been banned himself from appearing on state TV, we thought it was meant as a gesture of inclusion after so much exclusion, an acknowledgement of his right as an Egyptian citizen to appear on national TV which is paid for by taxpayers’ money.

But the news arrived that El Baradei was not allowed to appear. The question is: what exactly is threatening in El Baradei? Could it be that he is advocating the dangerous message that all Egyptian citizens are equal? It’s a subversive view to be sure, one that might destroy the very foundation of society.

There are reports circulating now that El Baradei might still appear on the Amr Khaled show after all. To the decision makers who, in the span of a few hours, allow, then ban and later re-allow, all I can say is we “must just pray that when your head's finished turning, your face is to the front again.”

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