By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: People are likely to rally around the newly elected general coordinator of the Kefaya Movement for Change Magdy Hussein, even though he remains behind bars, an analyst said Thursday.
“Hussein is known for being [an opposition leader] who interacts with the people on the street,” Amr Hashim, senior researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Daily News Egypt.
Though currently imprisoned, Hussein won the internal polls of Kefaya last week to become the movement general coordinator, succeeding journalist Abdel-Halim Qandil.
Following the internal elections, the movement’s coordinating committee delegated Assistant General Coordinator Ibrahim Badrawy to temporarily replace Hussein — who is also the former editor-in-chief of the Labor Party mouthpiece El-Sha’b newspaper — until he gets out of prison in February.
On Tuesday, Hussein was granted an Administrative Court verdict obligating Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly to release him on parole for good behavior in prison after having already completed 75 percent of his prison sentence.
“Based on the verdict, Hussein is expected to be set free within the next 48 hours,” Hussein’s wife, Naglaa El-Qaliouby, told Daily News Egypt. “There is nothing against him that requires him to remain in prison.”
Hashim predicted that Hussein will probably engage in more confrontations with the state than previous leaders have “due to his revolutionary nature,” ruling out the possibility that he would fail as a movement leader due to his Islamist ideologies.
Members of the Kefaya Movement are not concerned that Hussein’s ideologies will have an impact on the group.
“Kefaya is a coalition of several political trends from different ideologies and backgrounds,” Karima El-Hefnawy, a senior Kefaya member, told Daily News Egypt. “The movement’s general coordinator is committed to expressing the unanimous stance of the coordinating committee.
“There is a code of conduct among us as Kefaya members [that has lasted] since the movement was formed,” El-Hefnawy added. “If violated, there are bylaws to depend upon in [such cases].”
Hussein, the secretary general of the frozen Islamist Labor Party, is known for being an outspoken critic of the regime.
According to Mohamed El-Ashkar, another Kefaya senior member, the choice of Hussein to lead the movement has nothing to do with him being released soon.
“Electing Hussein has to do with his patriotic stance … the Labor Party is one of the key forces in Kefaya that has a strong influence,” El-Ashkar told Daily News Egypt. “We are approaching a critical phase … where the Kefaya general coordinator should be a brave fighter.”
In 2009, Hussein was handed down a two-year sentence by the Military Court for illegally crossing into the Gaza Strip through a tunnel in North Sinai’s Rafah border. The court’s verdict cannot be appealed.
In July 2010, Hussein was sentenced to another year in prison for libel against the son of then-Minister of Interior Hassan El-Alfi through a serious of articles that were published back in 1996.
According to El-Qaliouby, the public prosecutor halted the July 2010 verdict so that a cassation court could reexamine the case.
In May 2000, authorities shutdown the Labor Party’s political activities, stating that its activities threatened national interests. The authorities also closed down El-Sha’b newspaper.