What an interesting day!
Last night I watched one of the most open and honest political discussions in the history of Egyptian television. A show on Egypt's OTV invited former Minister Ahmad Shafik with a number of pro-revolution figures: Hamdy Kandil, Naguib Sawiris and last but not least Alaa Al Aswany.
I am quite sure no one expected the outcome that the millions of Egyptians and Arabs witnessed last night. It was a show that was both entertaining and shocking. For the first time, intellectuals were allowed to debate politics head-to-head with a high ranking government official.
Not only that, Alaa Al Aswany, defied Shafik in a heated debate that lead some viewers to accuse Aswany of being outright rude! I can understand why some people found Aswany's vocal criticism to be rude, but I don't share their sentiments.
Most Egyptians are not used to such open and heated debates and are used to seeing our government officials treated with high respect. For so long, our oppressive political culture has trained us to view government officials as untouchables. So this was a first!
Secondly, I am convinced that Aswany was speaking on behalf of Egypt's 84 million people when he questioned Shafik on police brutality and corruption among other issues. I was proud to have a dedicated and passionate intellectual such as Aswany speaking on my behalf.
OTV's show was not just special because of its honesty and shock element; it was also special because of its outcome!
Soon after the show, Ahmad Shafik resigned and Egypt's Higher Council of Armed Forces announced the appointment of Essam Sharaf as the new prime minister.
What was also novel was the way the HCAF announced its decision! This was done through the HCAF's Facebook page!!
What happened since last night's OTV show, in my view, is the sign of a new era for freedom of expression in Egypt. I am very optimistic and hopeful that from now one, things will start moving in the right direction.
Let's hope I'm right on this one!