Egyptian blogger and activist Wael Abbas just announced on his blog that he turned down an invitation to meet up with Bush.
Here's what Abbas wrote:
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Bush is neither my president nor my father; he is not the world's legal guardian as he would like to imagine. Bush is not a symbol of anything honorable to honor anyone who meets him; Meeting Bush would tarnish an honest man's reputation – it is by far nothing worthy of pride. I owe Bush nothing and he owes me nothing and even if he has something that I might want, I no longer want it. I am inherently against any American involvement in the Egyptian business be it good or bad. I just want him to hold his peace and stop supporting the Egyptian regime. Put the Iraqi invasion aside with all the other worldwide disasters that Bush brought on the world, it is more than enough for me that Bush calls president Mubarak “a man of peace”.
I did not reject the invitation for fear of criticism and live skinning of some political parties in Egypt because I can safely assume that we do not have anything even close to political parties in Egypt. Simply why would I be interested in meeting a person like Bush – he is not a Nelson Mandela or a Gandhi or a Mother Teresa -may she rest in peace.
Had this been an invitation to meet Obama – no offense – I would have gladly accepted it. At least I would have had the pleasure of meeting the man before he assumes office and dirties his hands. Now people love him and I would have liked to meet him when people still love him. I would have had the honor of meeting the icon of change in American history. He is the symbol of a truly democratically elected president. This is the model that we would like to see all over the world, starting with Egypt. I might even have the audacity to say that Obama's victory is a new landmark since the African American civil rights movement and its symbols – namely Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. But who is this Bush and what does he represent? I serve the causes of political and individual freedom and fighting oppression, violence, and dictatorship so how does Bush serve my cause?
The old American cabinet knows that they are on their way out so they decided to create havoc on their way out. They also decided to honor some activists when in fact by doing so America is disgracing them. They want to take credit for their strife and success before its fifteen minutes of fame are over. I love Americans as people and every time I visit America, it is because the Americans are supportive of me and my cause…. Maybe America is not the ideal solution for freedom of press and political parties but still it's civil society is an interesting experience to study and analyze.
* This post also appears on Global Voices Online.