ElBaradei: Education should be Egypt’s top priority

Mohamed ElBaradei, former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that Egypt has joined the Failed States Index. Without democracy, says ElBaradei, the country is stunted, and the regime should recognize this.

In an interview with Mary Wald on, a site featuring Nobel Peace Prize winners, ElBaradei declared that, "People are ready to enjoy the basic freedoms, freedom of speech."

ElBaradei said education would be a top priority if he became the next president of Egypt. He would also focus on "health and basic needs, such as jobs. But, primarily education.”  

“We can transform Egypt into a modern state, and a moderate state, through education. With education you have access to the rest of the world. You have technology. You have development. You get exposed to the universal values we all have to live with, including tolerance, social solidarity, and respect for diversity. It builds harmony.”

Responding to a question about the effects his proposed changes in Egypt would have on the region, ElBaradei said “Egypt could have tremendous impact. Egypt was always looked at by the rest of our region as a locomotive for progress. It was in the past a trail blazer… It also makes some of the Arab regimes shiver a bit, as they see it coming as well in their own countries,” adding that 90 percent of the people in the Arab world, particularly the poor and the disenfranchised, are supportive of change on both political and economic grounds.

ElBaradei described the Muslim Brotherhood as “the only effective opposition currently." He added, “they made it clear to me that they are not seeking a religious state but a civil state based on Islamic values.”

He concluded, “They are not the devil incarnate. I think sometimes the governments in the region try to paint these groups as more extremist than they are, to win the support of the West . . . If you want to effect change in a country like ours, you cannot simply ignore a group that has that kind of support.”

In related news, the Popular Campaign to Support Mohamed ElBaradei for Presidency organized a demonstration the day before yesterday on Nasr Road in Nasr city. Demonstrators raised banners reading “Change Is On the Way”, the Egyptian flag, and ElBaradei campaign posters.

Heavy security was on the scene. No clashes occurred.

Mahmoud Adel al-Hetta, media official for the campaign, said, “Many people joined and asked for posters to stick on their cars."

426,000 signatures have been submitted on the “Together We Can Change” website, and signatures on the NAC website have reached 92,685.

For his part, Hassan Nafaa, NAC coordinator, warned the regime against not responding to the NAC's seven requests, which include election integrity, ending Emergency Law, and the amendment of articles 76, 77, and 88 of the constitution as soon as possible to enable independent candidates to participate in the 2011 presidential elections. Nafaa said that NAC members will protest if the regime fails to respond.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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