Condoleezza Rice: Give Egyptian People their Political Voice
Former Secretary of State Addresses NADA Convention
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 7 — The best outcome for Egypt and its people would be a transition that lets “decent” political forces organize and allows for free and democratic elections, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the closing session of the National Automobile Dealers Association's annual convention. She added: “It looks now like there will have to be an effort to involve those very Islamist parties that are so well-organized” there.
She said there was no option other than ensuring that the Egyptian people have their political voice.
“The stability we thought we were buying for 60 years at the expense of democracy gave us neither stability nor democracy,” Rice said.
Egypt has assets that will help in the transition to true democracy, she said. “It has a strong middle class, a large and important business community and a large diaspora that will undoubtedly help,” she said.
But it doesn’t have democratic political parties because they have been banned from organizing, she said. Moving forward, the government must repeal laws that prevent political activity even if it means accepting the role of Islamist parties.
“Whatever the outcome in Egypt,“ Rice said, “at least contested politics will give the Egyptian people an opportunity to hear their options.
“And if you’re the Muslim Brotherhood, do you really think you’re going to a approach the Egyptian people with the following slogan: ‘Elect us, and we will impose Sharia law. Elect us and we will make your children suicide bombers.’ ”
Even the Muslim Brotherhood will be expected to run the sewer system, she said.
Rice reserved some of her most passionate comments for what she called the American Myth, the notion that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you are going.”
She praised the U.S. as a nation of immigrants, Americans united by their belief in that ideal. No matter one’s national origin or one’s religion, we are all Americans, she said.
“Sometimes, when I listen to the debate about immigration, this is a country I don’t know,” Rice said. “To think that children born of illegal immigrants in this country might not receive citizenship — what are we doing? America needs to stand tall for them.”
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