Thursday, July 07, 2005

Committee for Freedom & Democracy in Egypt

Welcome to the Committee for Freedom & Democracy in Egypt

My name is Aladdin Elaasar. I am the President and Founder of the Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt. I recently established this committee for the sole purpose of promoting freedom and democracy in my native country of Egypt. I have announced my candidacy for president of Egypt.

I have been living in the USA since 1992. I have worked as a bilingual teacher, interpreter, counselor, project manager and freelance writer. I have also done public speaker, cross-cultural training. My writings have been published in several newspapers in the USA and overseas, in both English and Arabic. I have contributed articles for on-line portals on the Middle East. I have also been a frequent guest as a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks.

In my writings, I have predicted the downfall of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 1991. In my strong belief, dictators are doomed to fall. There is no other choice than freedom and democracy for the people of the Middle East. This is why I established the Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt. I also announced my candidacy for President of Egypt through the national and international media on the 15th of June.

I was born, raised and educated in Egypt. I left it in 1985. I lived through 3 wars at least during my childhood and youth. We are tired of wars. Our military dictators in Egypt brought upon us one war after another. The result is that the economy is in terrible shape, Egypt has a high inflation rate, a high rate of poverty and illiteracy; especially amongst women, and a high rate of unemployment amongst young people.

Tens of thousands of political prisoners are in jail now without a charge or a trial. The US State Dept. along with other sources has documented the abuses and the human rights violations by the Mubarak regime against the Egyptian people.

The gap between the rich elite in Egypt and the poor has widened tremendously under the Mubarak regime. There are millions of Egyptian children who are engaged in child labor in slave-like conditions, do not attend school and deprived of their childhood just to earn few pounds to support their families.

The people of Egypt are gasping for freedom and democracy. We have been under rule of the government of Mr. Mubarak for the last 24 years. This government is an extension of the same military institution that took over power in 1952. During his reign, Mr. Mubarak has refused to appoint a vice president. He claims that the door is open for Egyptians to run for president, but he bars them from doing so. He bars Egyptian Americans and expatriates from voting or holding public office.

The Egyptian government has put Mr. Ayman Nour, another presidential candidate in jail. They have harassed and jailed American University professor Sa’ad Edin Ibrahim, an Egyptian American who announced his candidacy recently also. They have also harassed Dr. Nawal Sa’adawi, a physician and a Feminist activist, who was imprisoned for few years before by the Egyptian government, and who is running for president, as well.

Up till now, the Egyptian government has refused to include any of the above mentioned candidates on the ballot, including myself. If Mr. Mubarak is really serious about change in Egypt and giving democracy a chance, why does not he allow other candidates to run? As you all know, the Egyptian government runs most of the media outlets which gives Mr. Mubarak an edge over any other candidate. Mr. Mubarak uses public funds and resources for his campaign. He passed a law recently through the People’s Assembly, which the overwhelming majority of its members belong to the NDP- Mr. Mubarak’s party. This law prohibits any candidate from running without getting the endorsement of 250 members of MR. Mubarak’s party! Mr. Mubarak holds all the power in his hands. His government will be running the elections and counting the votes through his Minster of the interior!

I have been inspired by the words of President Bush when he said: “Many Middle Eastern governments now understand that military dictatorship and theocratic rule are a straight, smooth highway to nowhere. But some governments still cling to the old habits of central control. There are governments that still fear and repress independent thought and creativity, and private enterprise -- the human qualities that make for a -- strong and successful societies. Even when these nations have vast natural resources, they do not respect or develop their greatest resources -- the talent and energy of men and women working and living in freedom. Instead of dwelling on past wrongs and blaming others, governments in the Middle East need to confront real problems, and serve the true interests of their nations. The good and capable people of the Middle East all deserve responsible leadership. For too long, many people in that region as changes come to the Middle Eastern region; those with power should ask themselves: Will they be remembered for resisting reform, or for leading it?”

The Egyptian people need help to help themselves by giving them a chance and a hope for a better tomorrow. Extremism flourishes under military rule. The Egyptian people are tired of military rulers and religious zealots. They are tired of military rulers who promote and perpetuate anti-American sentiments and anti-Semiticism and conspiracy theories to deflect the public’s attention away from domestic issues and strengthen their rule as police states. They are tired of the one-man-rule.

Mission Statement of my campaign:

- To eradicate poverty in Egypt through self help program and small business loans.
- Open the doors for econonmic cooperation with other nations and encouraging Egyptian expatriates to return and invest in the home country, and generate jobs.
- To bring transparncy and accountablity back to the Egyptian governmment and eradicate archaic burcratic practices, by simplifying businesses practices.
- Bringing law and order, respect of the law and civility back to the Egyptian street.
- Providing a better health care system and education guarateed to every Egyptian.
- Eradicating illiteracy and child labor in Egypt.
- Empowering women and religious minorities and guarateeing their full rights.
- modernizing the infrastructure of Egypt's transportation and communication systems, and creating new communities that will attact a major portion of the population and ensuring their self-sufficiency.

To volunteer or contribute to my campaign,
Please contact:

Aladdin Elaasar,
President and Founder of
Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt
1015 Higgins Quarters, Suite 115

Hoffman Estates, IL 60194
Tel 847 310-0342
847 668-4206

Email: omaraladin@aol.com

Read my book

"Silent Victims : The Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in Post 9/11 America"

http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=24704

To recieve an autographed copy of my book, please send a chech or money order, $25 to:

1015 Higgns Quarters, Suite 115
Hoffman Estates, IL 60194-USA

Read Media Coverage on my campaign:


http://www.globeinvestor.com/servlet/ArticleNews/story/PRNEWS/20050616/2005_06_16_17_4519_1391463


http://aams.blogspot.com/2005/06/chicagoan-announces-candidacy-for.html

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Chicagoan announces candidacy for presidency of Egypt, Jun 15, 2005

Chicago, Illinois, USA (6/15/05)
Writer and community activist Aladdin Elaasar has announced today his official nomination for president of Egypt. Elaasar hopes his candidacy brings democracy to the Arab country. For the last 24 years Egypt has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak, 78, who has recently opened the door for other candidates to run for the presidency. Although Egypt is a constitutional republic, and its constitution states term limits, for more than 50 years Egypt has had 3 presidents from the military institution who held the presidency uncontestedly.Elaasar has lived in the Chicago land area since 1992. He fled the Middle East after the Gulf War with his wife and his eldest son. He has three other children who were born in Chicago. Mr. Elaasar is a prolific writer. He wrote for several publications in the US and the Middle East in both English and Arabic. He has also worked as a translator, counselor, bilingual teacher, and project manager in the Silicon Valley. He is author of a recently released book titled ?Silent Victims? that discusses the impact of 9/11 on communities in the USA.Elaasar was born, raised and educated in Cairo, Egypt in 1962. He graduated from Ain Shams University in Cairo, in 1983, with a B. A. in English. He speaks English and Arabic fluently, in addition to French and Spanish. ?This is the first time in Egypt?s modern history that a native Egyptian runs for president of Egypt. Egyptians never had the chance before to run for president, nor elect their chosen leaders freely. It?s about time for Egyptians after 50 years of oppressive military rule to have a free elections and vote for the candidate they choose. Mr. Elaasar said.Egypt, a country of 75 million people has the highest rate of unemployment. Corruption within the government is rampant and the country has been ruled for the last 25 years by the emergency law. Thousands of government opponents are in jail without a trial. Elaasar hopes to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of the law to his native country of Egypt. ?Egypt, more than ever needs democracy and respect for human dignity and the rights of women and minorities. We need to do a lot of reform; legal, economic and social change. And peace should be our unshakeable commitment", Elaasar said.END-For more info, please contact:Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt1015 Higgins Quarters, Suite 115Hoffman Estates, IL 60194Email: omaraladin@aol.com Or Call 847 668 4206, or 847 310-0342


Posted on Fri, Jul. 01, 2005
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Illinois man declares candidacy for Egypt presidencyBY DEBORAH HORANChicago Tribune
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. - (KRT) - He has no political aides, no telephones or fax machines, and no financial backers. Few Egyptians in America or Egypt know his name.
But on a balmy day in June, Aladdin Elaasar, an Egyptian-born author and substitute teacher living in Schaumburg, declared himself a candidate for the presidency of Egypt by popping two letters in the regular mail addressed to two officials in Cairo.
He is still waiting for a reply.
"I have a message. I have a vision," Elaasar, a slight man wearing round-rim glasses and a green tweed jacket, said from a Schaumburg hotel room that serves as a temporary office.
"I'm looking for a running mate."
No one, it seems, thinks Elaasar stands a chance of beating Egypt's longtime president, Hosni Mubarak, who is expected to seek a fifth six-year term, or any of the better-known candidates vying for the office for the first time in Egyptian history.
"Nobody in Egypt has heard of this man," said Baher Shaarawy, an Egyptian-born journalist living in New Jersey. "I don't know this name at all."
But Shaarawy and others lauded Elaasar's effort, even if they doubted he would become a serious contender. Until now Mubarak, 77, has always won re-election with more than 90 percent of the vote by asking voters to mark "yes" or "no" on a ballot that included no other candidates.
This time, the Egyptian leader has promised to allow challengers.
Some view the candidacy of Elaasar, 43, a one-time Middle East journalist and translator, as a small but significant sign of political reform.
"Let us give a hand to the guy," Mohrez El Hussini, editor of an Arabic-language newspaper in New Jersey, said of Elaasar. "On the road to democracy it's a good step."
Still, few Egyptians in America said they expect the outcome of this year's election to differ from past elections, despite the extra names on the ballot.
"The change is something just to give the feeling that there is going to be competition to rule the country," Shaarawy said.
Just getting his name on the ballot is likely to be difficult, and not just because Elaasar hasn't lived in Egypt since 1985.
While Egypt's 16 opposition parties can nominate one candidate each, a constitutional amendment passed by the parliament in May obliges independent candidates such as Elaasar to obtain 250 signatures from members of parliament and local councils, which are controlled by Mubarak's National Democratic Party.
"This is another game of the government to try to exclude other people and make it difficult," Elaasar said. Nevertheless, he plans to request the signatures.
"I will seek their endorsement," he said.
He also is seeking to spread the news of his candidacy via the Arab press, both here and in Egypt, though he concedes getting coverage in a country where most of the media is controlled by the government may prove a challenge.
So far, a few Arab-American newspapers have published his story and he has sent news releases to Arabic-language satellite television stations, he said.
Elaasar, who came to the United States in 1992, said he was motivated to run in part by the Bush administration's support for Middle East democracy and watched with interest when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met recently with opposition figures during a trip to the region. Rice told a Cairo audience that the United States would support "the democratic aspirations" of all people in the Middle East.
Encouraged by the U.S. push for free and fair elections, Elaasar said he sent a letter to President Bush asking for his endorsement.
Elaasar insisted he could win the Egyptian election "if the game is fair," dismissing criticism that a candidate with no constituency lacked the clout to force change. "When Martin Luther King started the civil rights movement, people didn't think he stood a chance," Elaasar said.
And for a man with no experience in politics, Elaasar seems to have mastered the art of stumping. When asked about his political agenda, he rattled off a list of Egypt's ills, including poverty, illiteracy, poor health care, child labor and government corruption.
But the biggest challenge, he said, is changing the popular mind-set.
"We're stuck in the mind-set that the ruler is the God-king of Egypt," he said. "It's a mind-set of helplessness. Egyptians need to believe that they are the ones capable of change, that they can choose their leadership."
At least some Egyptians say the reason Mubarak will win is because he is the best man for the job. Other candidates include a vocal opposition politician and a famous feminist.
"I have a great confidence that the election will be fair," said Midhat Higazi, an Egyptian in Detroit. "I think President Mubarak knows he's going to win. If I know I'm going to win, why cheat?"
So far, Elaasar hasn't gotten campaign contributions from anyone, he said. He has been using a friend's office as a campaign headquarters, as well as the hotel room paid for by an insurance company after his apartment burned in a fire in June. His wife and four children stay in two other rooms in the hotel.
The immediate concern is getting his name on the ballot, which he says will require sending faxes and making phone calls to follow up on the letters he sent to the minister of justice and the speaker of parliament.
Then, he said, he plans to travel to Egypt, though he is not sure when he might go. "I'll be there on time," he said, promising not to be late for the election.
---
© 2005, Chicago Tribune.
Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at http://www.chicagotribune.com/
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/news/nation/12032534.htm


http://www.forbes.com/feeds/prnewswire/2005/06/16/prnewswire200506161734PR_NEWS_B_MWT_CG_CGTH052.html

Chicago Writer Declares Candidacy for President of Egypt 06.16.05, 5:36 PM ET CHICAGO, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago writer and community activist Aladdin Elaasar has announced today his official nomination for president of Egypt. Elaasar hopes his candidacy brings democracy to the Arab country. For the last 24 years Egypt has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak, 78, who recently opened the door for candidates to run for the presidency. Although Egypt's constitution states term limits, for more than 50 years Egypt has had 3 presidents from the military institution who held the presidency uncontested. Elaasar has lived in the Chicago area since 1992. He fled the Middle East after the Gulf War with his wife and son. Mr. Elaasar is a prolific writer. He wrote for several publications in the US and the Middle East in both English and Arabic. He is author of a recently released book titled "Silent Victims: The Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in post 9/11 America", published by Author House. Elaasar was born, raised and educated in Cairo, Egypt in 1962. He has a B. A. in English and speaks English and Arabic fluently, in addition to French and Spanish. "This is the first time in Egypt's modern history that a native Egyptian runs for president of Egypt. Egyptians never had the chance before to run for president, nor elect their chosen leaders freely. It's about time for Egyptians after 50 years of oppressive military rule to have free elections and vote for the candidate they choose," Mr. Elaasar said. Egypt, a country of 75 million people, has the highest rate of unemployment. Corruption is rampant and the country has been ruled for the last 25 years by emergency laws. Thousands of government opponents are in jail without a trial. Elaasar hopes to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of the law to his native country of Egypt. "Egypt, more than ever needs democracy, respect for human dignity and the rights of women and minorities. We need legal, economic and social change. And peace should be our unshakeable commitment," Elaasar said. For more info, please contact: Aladdin Elaasar Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt 1015 Higgins Quarters, Suite 115 Hoffman Estates, IL 60194 Email: omaraladin@aol.com Call 847 668 4206 SOURCE Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt; -0- 06/16/2005 /CONTACT: Aladdin Elaasar of Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt, +1-847-668-4206, omaraladin@aol.com / CO: Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt; Aladdin Elaasar ST: Illinois, Egypt IN: SU: FOR JR-AM -- CGTH052 -- 4766 06/16/2005 17:34 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com

http://finance.lycos.com/qc/news/story.aspx?symbols=PRNEWS:100&story=200506162134_PRN__CGTH052

Chicago Writer Declares Candidacy for President of Egypt

16 June 2005, 5:34pm ET
CHICAGO, June 16 /Newswire/ -- Chicago writer and community activist Aladdin Elaasar has announced today his official nomination for president of Egypt. Elaasar hopes his candidacy brings democracy to the Arab country. For the last 24 years Egypt has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak, 78, who recently opened the door for candidates to run for the presidency. Although Egypt's constitution states term limits, for more than 50 years Egypt has had 3 presidents from the military institution who held the presidency uncontested.
Elaasar has lived in the Chicago area since 1992. He fled the Middle East after the Gulf War with his wife and son. Mr. Elaasar is a prolific writer. He wrote for several publications in the US and the Middle East in both English and Arabic. He is author of a recently released book titled "Silent Victims: The Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in post 9/11 America", published by Author House.
Elaasar was born, raised and educated in Cairo, Egypt in 1962. He has a B. A. in English and speaks English and Arabic fluently, in addition to French and Spanish. "This is the first time in Egypt's modern history that a native Egyptian runs for president of Egypt. Egyptians never had the chance before to run for president, nor elect their chosen leaders freely. It's about time for Egyptians after 50 years of oppressive military rule to have free elections and vote for the candidate they choose," Mr. Elaasar said.
Egypt, a country of 75 million people, has the highest rate of unemployment. Corruption is rampant and the country has been ruled for the last 25 years by emergency laws. Thousands of government opponents are in jail without a trial. Elaasar hopes to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of the law to his native country of Egypt. "Egypt, more than ever needs democracy, respect for human dignity and the rights of women and minorities. We need legal, economic and social change. And peace should be our unshakeable commitment," Elaasar said. For more info, please contact:
Aladdin Elaasar
Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt
1015 Higgins Quarters, Suite 115
Hoffman Estates, IL 60194
Email:

omaraladin@aol.com

Call 847 668 4206
SOURCE Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt;
-0- 06/16/2005
/CONTACT: Aladdin Elaasar of Committee for Freedom and Democracy in
Egypt, +1-847-668-4206,

omaraladin@aol.com



Resident to run for president of Egypt
BY CARA O'BRIEN
Published At the Hoffman Estates Review, Schaumburg Review, and Elk Grove Review by Pioneer Press

Even though he's running for president of Egypt, Hoffman Estates writer Aladdin Elaasar does not consider himself political.
"My life is an open book. I just like to talk about people's issues," Elaasar said. "If there is someone who can provide services better, then they should. It's not partisan, it's not religious, it's just about public service."
And public service, Elaasar says, is what Egypt desperately needs. The country suffers from high rates of poverty, inequality, illiteracy, human rights violations and unemployment. The country's infrastructure and public transportation are falling apart, and it's polluted.
"People say there is a black cloud over Cairo," Elaasar said. "The city of Cairo is literally choking."
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt for 24 years, but for the first time open elections will be held in September, allowing the people, instead of the parliament, to choose the next president. There is no official date for the election yet.
Elaasar sent letters of his official intent to the Egyptian government several weeks ago, and he publicly announced his campaign last week.
Elaasar, 43, is a native Egyptian, residing there for almost 25 years before leaving Egypt in 1985 to be a translator for the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia. He, his wife and children moved to the United States in 1992. Elaasar's extended family remains in Egypt, and he has not been able to contact them since he officially announced his candidacy.
He said his U.S. residency has given him important insights about freedoms, democracy and the needs of the people. While he calls the United States his home, he is still drawn to the concerns of his homeland.
Elaasar does not think his dual American-Egyptian citizenship will be a problem in his campaign for president. He speaks the language and he understands the problems the country faces.
"I am not a foreigner," he said. "The issue should be who could serve the Egyptian people better."
Elaasar writes columns that are syndicated on the Tribune Co. wire service, gives lectures about Egypt and Muslim-Americans and recently published a book, "Silent Victims," about the impact of Sept. 11 on Arab and Muslim Americans. Elaasar is certified as a bilingual teacher and linguist, but said right now he is devoting himself to his campaign. He has never held public office.
He said he is in the beginning stages of planning his campaign, but has been pleased with the support of the local Egyptian-American community, he said. While his campaign financing is coming out of his own pocket, he said he would accept contributions from the local Egyptian community.
He has no immediate plans to return to Egypt, and he said he will wait to see how his campaign is received.
His platform primarily focuses on his belief that Egyptian people need real change. He said the quality of life in Egypt has gotten so bad that many people want to leave; there is even a movement in Egypt called simply, "Kifaya," the Egyptian word for "enough."
"All of these issues are boiling right now. Regardless of my campaign, people are sick and tired, they are asking for change," Elaasar said. "People are struggling for the basic things we take for granted here."
American presence in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, has been influential in Egypt's movement toward change, Elaasar said. Years ago Egyptians would never have believed a dictator like Saddam Hussein would be removed from power.
He hopes his candidacy will provoke dialogue and change.
"I'm in the field of making a difference in people's lives," he said. "I would like to see individual freedoms respected."


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3102893,00.html

American Egyptian to challenge Mubarak

Exclusive: Freelance journalist in U.S. begins quixotic quest to defeat Egyptian president, now that election process has been opened
By Ray Hanania


CHICAGO - Egypt’s President-for-life Husni Mubarak had better watch it.

Someone who better understands the fine art of public relations and the power of free speech has announced he will run against Mubarak for president this Fall.

The candidate is Aladdin Elaasar, 43, the married father of three who announced his candidacy not from the marshy wetlands of the Nile Delta, but from an hotel in one of Chicago’s suburban sprawls.

Elaasar sent his letter declaring his candidacy to the Egyptian Justice Minister and the Foreign Minister.

He lacks a budget, lives to far away from Egypt to shake the hands of many Egyptian voters, and isn’t a member of Mubarak’s ruling coalition.

But he says, he plans to win.

His first act was to write a press release, something most Arab dictators don’t know how to do. In fact, most Arabs get press the old fashioned way, by default in some conflict and always in response to a crisis they have little ability to control.

All-Egypt platform

Not Elaasar, who is a freelance journalist and member of the National Arab American Journalists Association.

He is also running on a platform that focuses exclusively in Egypt, something new for people who hold office in that country. Usually, the Egyptian and most Arab candidates (unchallenged dictators) have a one-issue platform, entitled “Down with the Zionist Entity.”

Even though Egypt has signed a peace accord with Israel, Israel-bashing still generates a core cote for Mubarak and his party loyalists.

Elaasar says the real issue is free speech and improved economic conditions in Egypt.

"I am running for president of Egypt and I expect that I will win," Elaasar insisted during an interview with TheArabStreet.com .
"I have just as much chance as the independent parties (in Egypt) who field candidates in this election. They are small and have small voices. But the voice of those demanding freedom are strong and that is the constituency that I am appealing to and believe will support my candidacy. Let’s face it, I have as much of a chance of defeating President Mubarak as any of the other candidates who are running in Egypt and representing the independent parties. I think I have a stronger vision for Egypt’s future and a stronger agenda."

Seeking Bush's support

Elaasar also has one other traditional election campaign trick up his sleeve. As an American, Elaasar believes he has the inside track to win the support of U.S. President George W. Bush, whose entire approach to the Middle East has inspired Elaasar and other oppressed Arabs to believe that democracy isn’t just a pipedream.

"Bush has spoken up to encourage democracy in the Middle East, and there is no better way to bring democracy to the Middle East and to a country like Egypt which is the cornerstone of the Arab World than to force a contested election," says Elaasar, who said he is drafting a letter requesting Bush’s support.

Elaasar, 43, was born in Cairo. He is an American citizen who immigrated to the United States in 1992 and settled in Chicago. He is married and has four children. Holding an American passport, he says, will not impede him.

"I am Egyptian by birth and nationality. It’s my birthright. They cannot take that away from me. There is no question about that," he said. "The Egyptian Constitution gives the right, now, to any Egyptian to run. That’s good enough for me and I am running."

"I have sent an official letter declaring my candidacy to the Egyptian government, to the justice minister, and they are obligated to include me in the election, when the date is finally set. The problem, of course, is that President Mubarak’s party controls Egypt. They control the election. They control everything. It’s important that we hold his feet to the fire, especially when he is the one who says he supports Democratic reform in Egypt," Elaasar said.

Mubarak has won 4 times with 99.9 percent of vote

While Mubarak may brush off Elaasar as just another Egyptian expatriate ingrate who was so weak he had to flee the nation’s oppressive lifestyle for American freedom, many Americans might not be so cynical.

"I really believe that if given a real chance to vote, most Egyptians will not support President Mubarak. He has won election four times with 99.9 percent of the vote and no competition. If President Bush is serious about bringing democracy to the Middle East, and if we as Americans are serious about reforming the Arab world, then I expect to get strong support," Elaasar said. "The people of Egypt are suffering. They are starving. The government is plagued with corruption."

Elaasar is a co-founder of the National Arab American Journalism Association. He is the author of a recent book on the challenges facing Arabs and Muslims in post-Sept. 11 America, called "Silent Victims," available from Author House Press.

Elaasar can be reached at omaraladin@aol.com .

Ray Hanania is a Ynetnews columnist. He lives in Chicago

(06.23.05, 10:10)



His American dream: Be President of Egypt

Daily Herald Staff WriterPosted Friday, June 17, 2005

When Hoffman Estates journalist and author Aladdin Elaasar tells people he wants to be president of Egypt, the reaction is one of amusement or incredulity.
Why would a 43-year-old father of four, who has lived and worked in the United States since 1992, decide to run for president of his homeland?
Simply, because he can.
For the first time, Egypt will have multi-candidate presidential elections in September under a new draft electoral law sparked by a May 25 national referendum.
The change allows independents and rival parties to challenge the ruling National Democratic Party of President Hosni Mubarak, who has led for 24 years.
Mark Black/Daily HeraldEgyptian-American author, journalist and community activist Aladdin Elaasar of Hoffman Estates is attempting to run for president of Egypt in the country’s September elections.
“The door is open now,” says Elaasar, founder of the Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt. “Before, if I ever thought of that, like a year ago, it would be a joke.”
Elaasar has sent letters to Egyptian authorities declaring his intention to run and may be the only Arab American to do so. Political observers say the odds of an expatriate getting on the ballot and actually winning are slim.
“You just don’t pick yourself up from the suburbs of Chicago and say, ‘Because I was born in Egypt, I’m going to run for the president of Egypt,’ ” says Cherif Bassiouni, international law professor at DePaul University in Chicago.
Bassiouni, who is of Egyptian origin, dubs Elaasar’s declaration a public relations stunt.
“You obviously cannot run for any office, let alone that of president, unless you have significant national credentials,” he says.
Candidates’ credentials usually include military and civil service, being from a prominent family, and having strong political and social connections. Most contenders also would have backing from one of Egypt’s many political parties.
Elaasar has worked in the United States as a bilingual teacher, counselor and freelance Arabic translator, and has written articles for Arabic and English-language publications here and in the Middle East.
His campaign issues concern Egypt’s economy, unemployment, corruption in government and bureaucracy.
Like all Egyptian men, Elaasar has completed mandatory military service, but he is not affiliated with a political party and plans to run as an independent.
That poses multiple hurdles. First, he must get 250 members of the Egyptian parliament to sign his nomination papers.
Elaasar would be restricted to raising campaign funds from Egyptians living in Egypt.
His dual Egyptian-American citizenship may also pose a problem. The draft election law was recently amended to require candidates show a signed declaration certifying they do not hold a second nationality. The final law is set to be voted on this week.
“I think there are a lot of obstacles to any election in Egypt just for anybody who lives there, let alone somebody who wants to run from the United States,” says Ray Hanania, a prominent Arab American journalist based in Orland Park.
Still, Hanania supports the idea of a common man running for president on principle.
“Sometimes running for office is a victory in and of itself,” he says. “He’s probably making more of a point than a campaign. In Chicago politics, we call it a ‘suicide candidacy.’æ”
Other Middle East observers say, if anything, Elaasar’s campaign will generate talk and bring Egyptian issues to the forefront.
Already, there’s debates in the Egyptian media and protests on Cairo streets calling attention to women’s rights and restrictions to participation in the election, says Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington, D.C.
“An Egyptian-American wanting to help spread democracy in Egypt … if people discuss it in Egypt, then that’s part of a healthy democracy in the making,” he says.
President: Observers don’t give him much of a chance


http://www.dailyherald.com/news/cookstory.asp?id=62467


Press Release
Source: Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt;
Chicago Writer Declares Candidacy for President of EgyptThursday June 16, 5:34 pm ET
CHICAGO, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago writer and community activist Aladdin Elaasar has announced today his official nomination for president of Egypt. Elaasar hopes his candidacy brings democracy to the Arab country. For the last 24 years Egypt has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak, 78, who recently opened the door for candidates to run for the presidency. Although Egypt's constitution states term limits, for more than 50 years Egypt has had 3 presidents from the military institution who held the presidency uncontested.
Elaasar has lived in the Chicago area since 1992. He fled the Middle East after the Gulf War with his wife and son. Mr. Elaasar is a prolific writer. He wrote for several publications in the US and the Middle East in both English and Arabic. He is author of a recently released book titled "Silent Victims: The Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in post 9/11 America", published by Author House.
Elaasar was born, raised and educated in Cairo, Egypt in 1962. He has a B. A. in English and speaks English and Arabic fluently, in addition to French and Spanish. "This is the first time in Egypt's modern history that a native Egyptian runs for president of Egypt. Egyptians never had the chance before to run for president, nor elect their chosen leaders freely. It's about time for Egyptians after 50 years of oppressive military rule to have free elections and vote for the candidate they choose," Mr. Elaasar said.
Egypt, a country of 75 million people, has the highest rate of unemployment. Corruption is rampant and the country has been ruled for the last 25 years by emergency laws. Thousands of government opponents are in jail without a trial. Elaasar hopes to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of the law to his native country of Egypt. "Egypt, more than ever needs democracy, respect for human dignity and the rights of women and minorities. We need legal, economic and social change. And peace should be our unshakeable commitment," Elaasar said.
For more info, please contact:
Aladdin Elaasar
Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt
1015 Higgins Quarters, Suite 115
Hoffman Estates, IL 60194
Email: omaraladin@aol.com
Call 847 668 4206
Source: Committee for Freedom and Democracy in Egypt;

http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050616/cgth052.html?.v=14

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0506260349jun26,1,4799967.story?coll=chi-newslocal-hed

Schaumburg man wants to lead EgyptiansLittle-known hopeful seeks ballot position
By Deborah HoranTribune staff reporter
Published June 26, 2005

He has no political aides, no telephones or fax machines, and no financial backers. Few Egyptians in America or Egypt know his name.But on a balmy day in June, Aladdin Elaasar, an Egyptian-born author and substitute teacher living in Schaumburg, declared himself a candidate for the presidency of Egypt by popping two letters in the regular mail addressed to two officials in Cairo.He is still waiting for a reply."I have a message. I have a vision," Elaasar, a slight man wearing round rim glasses and a green tweed jacket, said from a Schaumburg hotel room that serves as a temporary office."I'm looking for a running mate."No one, it seems, thinks Elaasar stands a chance of beating Egypt's longtime president, Hosni Mubarak, who is expected to seek a fifth six-year term, or any of the better-known candidates vying for the office for the first time in Egyptian history."Nobody in Egypt has heard of this man," said Baher Shaarawy, an Egyptian-born journalist living in New Jersey. "I don't know this name at all."But Shaarawy and others lauded Elaasar's effort, even if they doubted he would become a serious contender. Until now Mubarak, 77, has always won re-election with more than 90 percent of the vote by asking voters to mark "yes" or "no" on a ballot that included no other candidates.This time, the Egyptian leader has promised to allow challengers.Some view the candidacy of Elaasar, 43, a one-time Middle East journalist and translator, as a small but significant sign of political reform."Let us give a hand to the guy," Mohrez El Hussini, editor of an Arabic-language newspaper in New Jersey, said of Elaasar. "On the road to democracy it's a good step."Still, few Egyptians in America said they expect the outcome of this year's election to differ from past elections, despite the extra names on the ballot."The change is something just to give the feeling that there is going to be competition to rule the country," Shaarawy said.Just getting his name on the ballot is likely to be difficult, and not just because Elaasar hasn't lived in Egypt since 1985.While Egypt's 16 opposition parties can nominate one candidate each, a constitutional amendment passed by the parliament in May obliges independent candidates such as Elaasar to obtain 250 signatures from members of parliament and local councils, which are controlled by Mubarak's National Democratic Party."This is another game of the government to try to exclude other people and make it difficult," Elaasar said. Nevertheless, he plans to request the signatures."I will seek their endorsement," he said.He also is seeking to spread the news of his candidacy via the Arab press, both here and in Egypt, though he concedes getting coverage in a country where most of the media is controlled by the government may prove a challenge.So far, a few Arab-American newspapers have published his story and he has sent news releases to Arabic-language satellite television stations, he said.Elaasar, who came to the United States in 1992, said he was motivated to run in part by the Bush administration's support for Middle East democracy and watched with interest when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met recently with opposition figures during a trip to the region. Rice told a Cairo audience that the U.S. would support "the democratic aspirations" of all people in the Middle East.
continue >> Encouraged by the U.S. push for free and fair elections, Elaasar said he sent a letter to President Bush asking for his endorsement.Elaasar insisted he could win the Egyptian election "if the game is fair," dismissing criticism that a candidate with no constituency lacked the clout to force change. "When Martin Luther King started the civil rights movement, people didn't think he stood a chance," Elaasar said.And for a man with no experience in politics, Elaasar seems to have mastered the art of stumping. When asked about his political agenda, he rattled off a list of Egypt's ills, including poverty, illiteracy, poor health care, child labor and government corruption.But the biggest challenge, he said, is changing the popular mind-set."We're stuck in the mind-set that the ruler is the God-king of Egypt," he said. "It's a mind-set of helplessness. Egyptians need to believe that they are the ones capable of change, that they can choose their leadership."At least some Egyptians say the reason Mubarak will win is because he is the best man for the job. Other candidates include a vocal opposition politician and a famous feminist."I have a great confidence that the election will be fair," said Midhat Higazi, an Egyptian in Detroit. "I think President Mubarak knows he's going to win. If I know I'm going to win, why cheat?"So far, Elaasar hasn't gotten campaign contributions from anyone, he said. He has been using a friend's office as a campaign headquarters, as well as the hotel room paid for by an insurance company after his Hoffman Estates apartment burned in a fire this month. His wife and four children stay in two other rooms in the hotel.The immediate concern is getting his name on the ballot, which he says will require sending faxes and making phone calls to follow up on the letters he sent to the minister of justice and the speaker of parliament.Then, he said, he plans to travel to Egypt, though he is not sure when he might go. "I'll be there on time," he said, promising not to be late for the elections.

http://www.mysan.de/article130362.html

CHICAGO, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago writer and community activist Aladdin Elaasar has announced today his official nomination for president of Egypt. Elaasar hopes his candidacy brings democracy to the Arab country. For the last 24 years Egypt has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak, 78, who recently opened the door for candidates to run for the presidency. Although Egypt’s constitution states term limits, for more than 50 years Egypt has had 3 presidents from the military institution who held the presidency uncontested.
CHICAGO, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago writer and community activist Aladdin Elaasar has announced today his official nomination for president of Egypt. Elaasar hopes his candidacy brings democracy to the Arab country. For the last 24 years Egypt has been ruled by President Hosni Mubarak, 78, who recently opened the door for candidates to run for the presidency. Although Egypt’s constitution states term limits, for more than 50 years Egypt has had 3 presidents from the military institution who held the presidency uncontested.
Elaasar has lived in the Chicago area since 1992. He fled the Middle East after the Gulf War with his wife and son. Mr. Elaasar is a prolific writer. He wrote for several publications in the US and the Middle East in both English and Arabic. He is author of a recently released book titled "Silent Victims: The Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in post 9/11 America", published by Author House.
Elaasar was born, raised and educated in Cairo, Egypt in 1962. He has a B. A. in English and speaks English and Arabic fluently, in addition to French and Spanish. "This is the first time in Egypt’s modern history that a native Egyptian runs for president of Egypt. Egyptians never had the chance before to run for president, nor elect their chosen leaders freely. It’s about time for Egyptians after 50 years of oppressive military rule to have free elections and vote for the candidate they choose," Mr. Elaasar said.
Egypt, a country of 75 million people, has the highest rate of unemployment. Corruption is rampant and the country has been ruled for the last 25 years by emergency laws. Thousands of government opponents are in jail without a trial. Elaasar hopes to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of the law to his native country of Egypt. "Egypt, more than ever needs democracy, respect for human dignity and the rights of women and minorities. We need legal, economic and social change. And peace should be our unshakeable commitment," Elaasar said.
Posted on Thursday, June 16 @ 23:45:50 CEST by PRNewsWire

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