In a joint session of the Shura Council and the People’s Assembly on Saturday, several members of parliament raised banners on which they had written, "The Dignity of Egypt". Despite these messages, President Mubarak’s speech to the joint session made only perfunctory remarks on the events that took place in Sudan last week.
Speaking on the subject, President Mubarak argued that Egypt must exercise self-restraint when it comes to foreign relations, saying, "I am agitated too, but I restrain myself."
In addition to this brief reference, he emphasized that the dignity of Egyptians in general is part of the dignity of Egypt, and that taking care of Egyptians abroad is the responsibility of the state, adding "Egypt does not tolerate those who hurt the dignity of its sons."
Discussing the current state of Arab affairs, Mubarak warned Iran against interfering in Arab affairs, saying Egypt would not hesitate to protect its own security, including the regions of the Red Sea, the Gulf, and the Middle East in general.
In addition, Mubarak accused Israel of undermining the peace process by continuing to build settlements, by "Judaizing" Jerusalem and by excavating areas around the Aqsa Mosque. He also called on Israel to lift the Giza blockade and to heed the call for peace in the region.
The parties reacted in different ways to Mubarak’s speech. Some suggested that it was simply another traditional speech containing nothing new, while others said Mubarak tackled the key issues affecting the Egyptian state.
"The party was not expecting a change in internal policy," said Mustafa el-Taweel, the ceremonial president of the Wafd Party. The president previously announced before members of the National Democratic Party that he would not consider amending the constitution, and whoever called for such a change had ulterior motives, he said, adding that he wished Mubarak had taken a stronger political stance against Algeria in order to preserve Egyptian dignity.
The party expected President Mubarak to ignore all issues related to democracy and freedom, said Sayed Abdel Aal, secretary general of the Tagammu Party. "This confirms that the government and the NDP will continue to restrain liberties, oppose democracy and ignore the demands of the opposition to introduce constitutional amendments and new legislation related to elections," he said.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.