Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian NASA scientist Essam Heggy, which aired on Al-Tahrir TV on May 1, 2013:
Essam Heggy: The [Egyptian] revolution brought about an important change, but this change is not complete because one important thing has not happened. This is not about political decisions or about the constitution. Let me tell you, I do not believe in politics at all. I am saddened by all these political conflicts. There can be no such thing as democracy without education.
Even if all of us, sitting in this studio, agree on something, we might still be wrong. As an example, let me mention an incident that took place. Fourteen people were riding in a minibus, and they all agreed to rape a woman. Although they did not know one another, they decided by majority rule to do this. Does this make it right? Majority rule is merely a step forward, but there is also education and knowledge. Completing the revolution does not depend on political decision-making, on the shakeup of the cabinet, or on the constitution. What constitution? We are fighting over it while 48% of the Egyptians cannot even read. The illiteracy rate here is 48%. It is all about education. The values set by the revolution must be adopted by the schools and universities in order for the change there to be a real change.
Interviewer: What score would you give the Egyptian revolution?
Essam Heggy: Maybe 10%.
Essam Heggy: The revolution was never completed. Indeed, we replaced the ruler, but there is a greater struggle ahead: We must change ourselves. Just as Egypt was in need of a new president, it is in need of a new people. If we want to become that new people, we must stand in front of the mirror, and face Egypt’s greatest enemy – ignorance. Ignorance is the cause of poverty, and it is the reason that any democratic system in Egypt is a source of conflict. We exert more effort fighting one another than we do defending one another. Over the past few months, we have hated one another more than we have ever hated any enemy in the history of Egypt.
What you hear from all the political parties is laughable. [Mubarak] loyalists call upon us to return to the former regime. Other people call upon us to return to the military rule of 40 years ago. Then there are others who call upon us to go back 1,400 years. Some others would like us to return to the days of Gamal Abd Al-Nasser. Is all we have our past? Is there nothing in the future for us? Can’t we Egyptians do anything but emulate those who came before us? What kind of country states a revolution for the future while looking backward – be it 40 years or 1,000 years?
This notion which is ingrained in us – that we cannot effect change by ourselves, and that we must either import it from abroad or emulate the past – must change. We were not born in order to emulate our forefathers.