CAIRO - An attempt to launch the National Council, a body of experts that will seek to suggest solutions to problems and policies to Egypt's Army and caretaker Government, went awry when attendees at the launching conference fist- fought and called each other names in opposition to the presence of some people in the council and the absence of others.
As coordinators read out the names of the members of the new council at the independent Press Syndicate in Cairo, some people yelled, while others spoke loudly and critically about the list of members, which included Arab League Chief and presidential hopeful Amr Moussa. “He is a Mubarak loyalist and a fake man,” shouted one of the audience at Mamdouh Hamza, an engineer and a political activist who read the names of the members of the council. “Do you want to buy the revolution with your own money?” shouted another man at Hamza as well. “The revolution is everybody's, not yours alone.” The ensuing battle did away with the launching conference of the council as almost everybody fought against everybody. The words “corruption”, “dirt”, and “treachery” flew in all directions inside the conference room, while older members of the council had to withdraw when they saw some of the attendees given punches on the stomach and the shoulders. Fist-fights seem to have become the main feature of political meetings in this country after the revolution. Participants in a major conference on national dialogue that ended late Tuesday as well also fought against each other in a symbolic sign of rising political intolerance in a country that aspires to act as a free democracy in the future. The members of the council expressed sorrow at the failure of their maiden conference, but said they would go ahead with their plans to chart a better future for Egypt by co-operating with the Army and the Government in drawing policies and finding solutions to problems. “We should not have paid any attention to fights,” said We'am Salem, a veteran Army officer and a member of the council. “This council will make a real difference in Egypt's future,” he told The Egyptian Gazette in an interview. The National Council was formed following a series of meetings by a large number of dignitaries, experts, writers, businessmen, and artists over the past few days. The meetings aimed to usher in an entity that does not only solve the problems of the present, but also form a comprehensive vision for the future. Its members say they pin hopes on their discussions and interaction in the days to come to find a way out of Egypt's current political, economic, and social crises, and also suggest strategies for a better future after Hosni Mubarak and his cronies have devastated almost everything with their own corrupt policies. “This council will be an important mechanism for changing the future in this country,” said Mohamed Fayek, a veteran journalist and a member of the council. “By its very formation, this council is able to make a real difference here.”