Khaled Ali

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Not to be confused with Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a Saudi man accused of planning a terrorist act against U.S. President George W. Bush or Ali Khalid, a Manchester-based British-Asian actor.
Khaled Ali
خالد على
Khaled Ali.jpg
Khaled Ali
Born Khaled Ali Omar[1]
(1972-02-26) February 26, 1972 (age 42)
Mit Ghamr, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt
Residence Cairo
Nationality Egyptian
Education Bachelor of Laws
Alma mater Zagazig University
Occupation Lawyer, labor activist, politician
Years active 1995-present
Organization Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Front to Defend Egypt's Protesters
Known for Labor advocacy, fighting government corruption
Style Left-wing politics
Political party
unaffiliated
Spouse(s) Najla Hashim

Khaled Ali (also spelled Khaled Aly; Arabic: خالد على‎, IPA: [ˈxæːled ˈʕæli]) (born February 26, 1972) is a prominent Egyptian lawyer and activist. He is known for his advocacy for reform of government and private sector corruption and for promoting social justice and labor rights. Ali is the former head of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) and co-founder of the Front for Defending Egypt's Protesters and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC). He has been called a "legendary anti-corruption crusader" and "Egypt’s best-known counselor and defender of independent unions and worker protests." He won the “Egyptian Corruption Fighter” award in 2011.

He has been involved in several prominent court cases against the government, including a 2001 ruling that gave syndicates more freedoms, a 2010 case he won that mandated a higher minimum wage for workers, and a case leading to the nationalization of three large companies that had been privatized.

Ali was an activist before, during, and after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. He has been involved in worker strikes before and since the downfall of Mubarak's regime, and been an active supporter of the role of workers in the revolution and the labor mobilization that took place during it. He has denounced violent acts by the police and military, and has represented revolutionaries and the families of those killed in court. In February 2011, Ali was detained in a raid by Egyptian security forces on the HMLC. He is against the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and supports postponing the drafting of a new constitution until after the 2012 election.

A latecomer to the 2012 presidential race, Ali announced his candidacy the day after he became eligible to run, making him the youngest candidate in Egypt's upcoming election. His platform is one of social and economic justice, including core issues like regional economic strength, protecting natural resources, fighting corruption, addressing unemployment, and improving workers' rights. Ali lays great stress on education, which he believes will lift Egypt out of poverty. He seeks a balance between the public and private sectors. Ali does not belong to a political party and never has belonged to one. He calls himself the "candidate of the poor". He is supported primarily by students, activists, farmers, and workers, generally on the left of the political spectrum. Ali's campaign slogan is "We will fulfill our dream".

Background[edit]

Ali was born in Daqahlia to a modest rural family.[2][3] He graduated in 1995[4] and earned a degree from Zagazig University’s law school.[3]

Activism under the Mubarak regime[edit]

Khaled Ali has been a prominent labor activist and lawyer. He is the former head of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR),[5] a founding member of Hisham Mubarak Law Center,[5] a founding member of the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protesters (started in 2008),[3][5] and a founder of the “the coordinating committee for the defense of the rights and freedoms of association."[6]

Al-Ahram Weekly called him a "legendary anti-corruption crusader",[7] and CounterPunch described him as "Egypt’s best-known counselor and defender of independent unions and worker protests."[8] In 2011, he was given the “Egyptian Corruption Fighter” award by the “Egyptians Against Corruption."[9]

Legal victories[edit]

Khaled Ali speaking at Tweet Nadwa

Ali's career has been highlighted by several prominent legal cases and victories, most involving corruption and the private sector. He fought corruption by the Mubarak government, which had illegally privatized public land and public sector factories. Suing government officials for selling public property, he won a judgment ordering the return of several large companies to public ownership.[10]

A 2001 judgment in a case spearheaded by Ali saw labor syndicates gain more freedoms.[2][10] His victory winning the renationalization of large companies, sold by the former regime in corrupt deals,[11] included retailer Omar Effendi, the Nile Cotton Weaving Company and several other factories.[10][12] Ali also served on the legal team that halted the privatization of Egypt's national health insurance and presided over the legal team[6] advocating for transparency and protection of public insurance[13] and pension funds.

Ali is known for filing and winning a landmark court case in 2010 that forced the government to set a minimum wage commensurate with the cost of living; it was raised to 1200 Egyptian pounds per month and covers all workers.[5][12] In February 2010, he said, "The government represents the marriage between authority and money—and this marriage needs to be broken up... We call for the resignation of Ahmad Nazif's government because it only works for businessmen and ignores social justice. We call for a minimum wage and a maximum wage, as well as the connection of wages to prices. We also call for annual wage increases in line with inflation rates. We are against the privatization of the health insurance sector and call for the fixing of all temporary labor contracts."[14] In April 2010, there was a demonstration outside the cabinet office, where approximately 300 workers protested the government's privatization policy and against the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), which is controlled by the government. Ali said at the time, "We'll give them a month. If after a month the verdict hasn't been applied in a manner acceptable to workers, all the workers forces taking part in this protest will stage repeated protests until it is implemented," Ali said.[15]

Supporting strikes and the public sector[edit]

Khaled Ali among Egyptian workers protesting against privatization.

Throughout Ali's career, he has been a strong supporter of worker's strikes and public sector activism. In 2007, Ali noted the growing trend of strikes as a sign of political change: "Taboos were broken during the past few years of political ferment, and workers grew less afraid," he said.[16] Speaking to a reporter in April 2008 about the general strike taking place, Ali noted that its purpose was not to harm the economy. "The point was to make a strong statement and to take a stand," he said.[17]

Ali supports the December 2008 founding of the independent General Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Employees (RETA). In 2009, amid protests of the state-controlled ETUF and agitation for independent unions in a broad section of trades, Ali said of the tax authority and growing political action by workers in a number of sectors, “The RETA set the example for other workers and civil servants to follow. It's indeed the single most important independent political project in 2009.[18] He addressed the problem of Egyptian labor, distrust of political parties, which have tried to co-opt labor's causes, and the fear that demonstrations would be brutally suppressed by the government. "There is also a tactical dimension to trying to avoid the wrath of the government and its security apparatus," Ali said.[18]

Ali makes distinction between politics and political parties, however, citing the Muslim Brotherhood's control of professional syndicates, versus the intertwining of Egypt's progressive political movement and labor. “For years, labor constituted the social heart of the progressive political movement, which in turn served as the political brain for labor. That was important for the labor movement to articulate its discourse and negotiate its demands," Ali said.[19]

Ali was interviewed in Cairo in February 2011 by a correspondent from Democracy Now!. Ali said that while middle class youth sparked the Arab Spring, which expressed the political will of the Egyptian people of different classes, the workers had set the stage. "Workers laid the ground for the emergence of this revolution, and I believe that any analysis which says otherwise is superficial," said Ali.[20]

The workers have successfully launched and sustained the largest wave of labor mobilizations this county has seen, from 2004 until 2011. The workers are the ones who brought down the structures of this regime in the past years. They are the ones that have been fighting for independent organizing on the ground, and they’re the ones who created Egypt’s first de facto independent trade union. And they insisted on the right to have pluralistic trade unions, not just unions that are stacked with government supporters. They’re the ones who brought their grievances to the streets.

Khaled Ali in an interview on Democracy Now!

Khaled Ali has called on state authorities to allow workers to self-manage their companies when they are stalled, or when investors flee the country.[21]

2011 Egyptian Revolution and its aftermath[edit]

Khaled Ali with some of the families of the victims of Maspero massacre.

Ali was active in the 2011 revolution, supporting worker's strikes and representing protesters and the families of martyrs against the government,[12] while condemning the violence of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and Egypt's police forces.

On February 3, 2011, Ali was among the detainees detained by security forces after a raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) in Cairo. Amnesty International condemned the raid, which it characterized as a "crackdown", accusing the Egyptian authorities of "attempting to suppress the wave of popular protest" then taking place all across Egypt.[22]

Between February 11, 2011 and mid-April 2011 alone, SCAF tried more than 5,000 civilians before military tribunals in trials generally lasting between 20 to 40 minutes in which groups of five to 30 defendants were tried at a time.[n 1] Acting on behalf of a Rasha Azab, a former military detainee, Ali was one of two lawyers who challenged the military's decision to try civilians before military tribunals by bringing a lawsuit to Egypt's Court of Administrative Justice.[24]

In June 2011, Ali was heard by the Administrative Court regarding a lawsuit seeking to overturn Law 34/2011, passed by SCAF and the Cabinet and which criminalized certain protests and strikes. Ali said, "Protests and strikes have always been workers' only weapon … since they have no ability to negotiate with the government — depriving them of this right is depriving them from voicing their suffering." He said further, "The law was billed as the ‘freedom of work and preventing sabotage’ law, while it is actually meant to prevent workers and poor people from protesting."[25]

In August 2011, Ali took part in a press conference held by 36 Non-governmental organizations (NGO) to condemn a "fierce campaign" by the government and SCAF to limit protests. Ali criticized the Ministry of Solidarity for what he saw as their attempt to "monopolize" patriotism. He decried the defamation of activists protesting against Mubarak and privatization, as well as the practice of trying civilians before military tribunals as human rights violations committed by the Cabinet and SCAF.[23]

In order to gain a more accurate picture of the revolution and gauge its success, Ali has been involved in efforts to collect information about its participants, especially those who suffered injury or were killed.[20]

We are in the process of collecting documents about the numbers of people who died and who are injured. Among them – among the questions that we’re asking people is, "Where did the deceased live? Was he a worker, or was he unemployed? And do they work on a temporary basis? Are they government employees? Are they permanent workers? How much was their salary?" Until now, most of the cases we have encountered are cases of people who were poor and lived in poor neighborhoods. They’re the ones who came out and joined these street battles during the revolution. They’re the ones who were not afraid of being shot. They’re the ones who were killed. These people gave their lives without ever claiming that they were the owners of this revolution. We need real documentation to know how this revolution truly succeeded.

Khaled Ali on Democracy Now!

Ali condemns the violence in Egypt since the revolution and has been working with the families of 17 unarmed protesters killed by the military in October 2011, ten of whom were crushed to death when armored vehicles drove over them and seven others were killed when soldiers fired into a crowd.[26]

Candidacy for President[edit]

Announcement[edit]

Khaled Ali announcing his candidacy

Ali's press conference to announce his candidacy for president in the 2012 election was held at the Journalists' Syndicate on the evening of February 27, 2012, hours after he announced the press conference on Twitter.[3] His press conference was a well-attended[27] event, held one day after his 40th birthday, the minimum age eligible to run for the office.[2] He is the youngest candidate to enter the race.

“I am a candidate from one of Egypt’s villages ... a humble farmer, a president from Tahrir," Ali said. “I decided to pursue the race as a young man, inclined to support the poor, against military rule and with the rights of our martyrs. I am not afraid, so long as I have the support of all those who dream of freedom, justice, and dignity,” he continued.[28] Ali is an independent and has never been a member of any political party.[29] “I know that they will try to defame me, but even if they killed me or imprisoned me … you are the ones who will [continue] calling for your rights.”[5] Supporters chanted, "Khaled Ali will rise, rise against capitalism" and "Who is Khaled Ali? He's the farmers' favorite."[27]

Though a candidate and known as an activist long involved with labor and social justice, Ali insists he does not speak for the revolution, which he says is incapable of being represented by any one person.[5] "Am I the candidate of the revolution? Am I the candidate of the young? No! I'm only one voice of many," Ali said in his announcement,[27] calling himself the "candidate of the poor."[30] He says he is running "as an independent young man who [has] sided with the poor" against military rule.[11] His campaign slogan has been translated as "We will fulfill our dream"[4] and "We will realize our dreams."[6]

Ali's candidacy has yet to collect the legally required 30,000 signatures from citizens of at least 15 governorates. At the time of Ali's announcement, there were seven other candidates in the race.[27] Registration for candidacy began on March 10 and ends on April 8;[11] elections are set for May 23 and 24.[28][dated info]

Gamal Eid, a well-known leftist lawyer and the director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, who works with the Ali campaign, said that a group of activists and workers began campaigning even before Ali announced his candidacy.[31]

Platform[edit]

In his announcement that he was running for president, Ali declared, "My entire platform is built on the basis of social justice," saying it was "not just decoration," rather his primary focus and guiding principle,[10] and for him, a higher priority than winning the election.[32] Ali says his mission is to achieve the revolution's goals.[29] He spoke of the need to lift Egypt out of poverty, citing education as a "fundamental tool" to accomplish this goal.[4]

According to Ali supporter Eid, Ali's platform, still being crafted, may center around social and economic issues, including social equality, restoration of public property illegally sold under Mubarak, ending foreign debt, and stronger opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.[31] Ali said, "We must also support the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist occupation; we must collaborate with the Palestinian resistance and lift the blockade on Gaza".[4] Other main issues include building regional economic strength with Iran and Turkey to free the region from American domination,[11] reversing corrupt Mubarak-era business deals, farmland rehabilitation, raising employment and protecting the rights of workers, natural resources and mineral wealth.[2]

Ali wants the public sector to regain its status and social importance by "providing affordable goods and proper employment policies". Private property as a concept is not a problem for Ali, who believes that "no society can properly develop" without it,[27] however, the enjoyment of it does not carry the inherent right to violate labor laws. "The worker will not have to visit his employer every day to kiss his hand to get consent. Only law would regulate the relationship between employees and their employers," said Ali.[11] Speaking of his priorities as president, Ali said his primary focus would be restoration of Egypt's assets, lost when the former regime sold them off illegally.[27] Ali calls for a mixed economy, a "partnership" of the public, private and cooperative sectors that would prevent price fixing and monopoly. Ali declared his support of reviving the public sector "with or without U.S. consent".[4]

Ali is very critical of the military Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). He has accused them of propaganda and state-media manipulation surrounding the election.[4] He advises the military to maintain its relationship with the Egyptian populace and not to parrot the police, who lost its favor. He spoke out against military ownership of industry and the means of production.[10] Ali has criticized economic assets accumulated by SCAF, championing the need to renationalise factories and other assets. "It is precisely this plethora of institutions they own that prevents them from properly carrying out their mandate," he argued.[27] One particular example Ali criticizes is foreign exploitation of 120 of Egypt's gold mines, saying use and development of the nation's mineral wealth should be planned[27] and not become a means for foreign companies to benefit. He also says the army should turn factories and economic projects over to the public sector and let the unemployed work, rather than conscripts.[11]

Ali says some people have exploited Egypt's revolution for their own gain and criticized members of the military and power elite, saying their previous connections with Mubarak have not weakened their undue influence in Egypt. He also spoke against the efforts of military leaders to politicize the police and army, saying plainly, "Stop the use of police and army in media and politics."[11] Drafting a constitution should be delayed until after the military rulers have relinquished power to a civilian government, according to Ali. "It is not reasonable to hold presidential elections while drafting the constitution at the same time," he said.[32]

He criticized the transitional military government, which he says has used violence to attack both youth and revolutionaries. Asked about allowing the "wheel of production" to turn in order to increase stability and reduce protests, Ali said, "Let the wheel of production stop until it turns with justice," pointing out that allowing production to return did not guarantee an improvement to the underlying problems causing the protests. "Under Mubarak, the wheel increased poverty of the poor while increasing the wealth of the rich," he said.[32] "Whoever is elected must be more accountable to Egyptians than Mubarak", says Ali, vowing to both stand up to military and power elites, and empower the poor if his candidacy is successful.[33]

The campaign plans to release its complete platform at the end of March and in the interim, will issue working papers on each plank of its platform.[10][dated info]

Supporters[edit]

Ali draws his base of support from his prior work as a lawyer and activist, and his involvement in workers' rights and the 2011 revolution. Many of his supporters are students and activists who were active in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak's regime.[33] He is widely popular among labor and student movements due to his continual efforts at reform and social justice.[4]

Reception[edit]

Many of Ali’s supporters see him as filling the void left by Mohamed ElBaradei's withdrawal.[28] Samer Soliman, professor of political science at the American University in Cairo acknowledged the gap but expressed some doubt about Ali's ability to fill it.[28] Ali is known primarily as an activist lawyer. As a politician, he is not widely known to his fellow citizens, and even those in his circles have been surprised by his decision to run, according to Al-Akhbar English.[28] In contrast to Ali's activist past, some of his well-known opponents are former associates or members of the former Mubarak regime.[28] Ali's lack of experience as a politician is also a concern. Even within the revolutionary movement, many remain skeptical about his candidacy,[28] which is seen as a long shot. Critics argue that his campaign is an uphill battle and risks splitting the vote, which could benefit candidates connected with the prior regime.[11]

Members of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and Egyptian Socialists told the Egypt Independent that they are giving serious consideration to support of Ali’s candidacy. “Up until now, the situation is unclear. Khaled may be our choice. Some are proposing a potential partnership between Khaled Ali and Abouel Fotouh [where Ali can run as his deputy]," said Marwa Farouk, a member of the Popular Alliance.[31] No party has yet endorsed Ali.[28]

Political activity in 2014[edit]

Khaled Ali expressed opposition to the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, calling it "inappropriate" for Egypt.[34]

Khaled Ali initially planned to run as a candidate in the 2014 Egyptian presidential election, however, he withdrew his candidacy on 16 March 2014 after the passage of the presidential elections law, describing the election as a "farce" while also urging el-Sisi not to run and the army to stay out of politics.[35]

Publications[edit]

  • Saber Barakat and Khaled Ali, Our Insurance Rights, published by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights[13]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ By late August 2011, SCAF had held 12,000 military trials of civilians, surpassing the 10,000 such trials held by the Mubarak regime over the course of its 30 years in power.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pictures from a Revolution". The New Yorker. August 8, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mohamed Elmeshad, "Late Entry: Anti-Corruption Crusader Leaps Into Egypt's Presidential Race". Worldcrunch. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d Al-Masry Al-Youm, "Leftist activist to announce presidential bid". Egypt Independent. February 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Egypt: Youngest Candidate Views Himself as People's Candidate". allAfrica.com. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Heba Hesham, "Youngest presidential hopeful promises to achieve social justice". Thedailynewsegypt.com. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  6. ^ a b c Mohamed Abdel Salam, "Labor lawyer, activist becomes Egypt's youngest candidate". Bikya Masr. February 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  7. ^ Eric Walberg, "Topple their debts". Al-Ahram Weekly. November 3–9, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  8. ^ Carl Finamore, "The Unfinished Revolution " Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names". Counterpunch. February 21, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  9. ^ Mohamed Abdel Salam, "Labor lawyer, activist becomes Egypt's youngest candidate". Bikya Masr. February 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Mohamed Elmeshad, "Anti-corruption crusader announces his candidacy". Egypt Independent. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Heba Hesham, "Youngest presidential hopeful promises to achieve social justice". Thedailynewsegypt.com. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  12. ^ a b c "Labour lawyer to become youngest candidate in Egypt presidential race". Ahram Online. February 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  13. ^ a b Saber Barakat and Khaled Ali, Description of book Our Insurance Rights. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  14. ^ Lina Attalah, "Workers, activists demand national minimum wage". Egypt Independent. May 2, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  15. ^ Sarah Carr, "Labor activists give gov't a month to implement minimum wage ruling". Zawya. April 5, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  16. ^ "Labour unrest in Egypt on privatisation moves". The Financial Express. May 23, 2007. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  17. ^ Alex Dziadosz, "General strike did not aim to harm the economy, says expert". Thedailynewsegypt.com. April 6, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  18. ^ a b Saif Nasrawi, "Pending legality: The growing politicization of Egypt''s labor". Masress. October 4, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  19. ^ Lina Attalah, "Egypt's workers: On the political precipice". Egypt Independent. May 1, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  20. ^ a b Anjali Kamat, "Egyptian Uprising Fueled by Striking Workers Across Nation". Democracynow.org. February 18, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  21. ^ "Workers struggle to self-manage". Mada Masr. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  22. ^ "Crackdown by Egyptian security forces condemned | Amnesty International". Amnesty.org. February 3, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  23. ^ a b "Thirty-six NGOs condemn the campaign waged by the authorities against civil society organisations". IFEX. August 24, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  24. ^ "Egypt: Military Trials Usurp Justice System | Human Rights Watch". Hrw.org. April 29, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  25. ^ Tamim Elyan, "Workers take demands against ETUF, anti-protest law to court". Thedailynewsegypt.com. June 14, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  26. ^ David D. Kirkpatrick and Heba Afify, "A Top Egyptian Minister Quits in Protest Over Killings". The New York Times. October 11, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h Nada El-Kouny, "Egypt's youngest presidential hopeful appeals to workers, farmers". Ahram Online. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h "Meet Khaled Ali: President Against Odds". Al Akhbar English. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  29. ^ a b "Egypt: Khaled Ali, Youngest Presidential Candidate, Opposes Military Rule". allAfrica.com. February 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  30. ^ Ramadan Al Sherbini, "A plethora of hopefuls seen for Egypt's top job". Gulf News. March 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  31. ^ a b c "Left's presidential candidate yet to emerge". Egypt News. February 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  32. ^ a b c "Egypt: Youngest Presidential Candidate Khaled Ali - No Constitution Under Military Rule". allAfrica. March 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  33. ^ a b Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, "Egyptians prepare for wide-open presidential poll". 89.3 KPCC. February 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  34. ^ "Khaled Ali says constitution not appropriate for Egypt". Egypt Independent. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Khaled Ali says he won't stand in presidential election". Ahram Online. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 

External links[edit]