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On the road to freedom, Egypt celebrates national day

January’s popular uprising against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will continue to have an impact not just across Egypt and the Middle East but also the world, Egyptian Ambassador Mohammad El-Zorkany told a gathering on the country’s national day on Thursday.

“The revolution that erupted in Egypt on the 25th of January 2011 is proceeding and is evolving and I think eventually we will give a unique model of a revolution worldwide. This is a peaceful revolution, bloodless revolution, leaderless revolution. The leader of this revolution is the people of Egypt. Only the people,” El-Zorkany said at his residence in Hannam-dong, Seoul.

He added that the revolution was about universal human values.

“It’s about freedom, it’s about dignity, it’s about social justice, which is very, very, very important.”
Egypt Ambassador Mohammad El-Zorkany and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism First Vice Minister Moh Chul-min at the Egypt National Day reception on Thursday. (John Power/The Korea Herald)
Egypt Ambassador Mohammad El-Zorkany and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism First Vice Minister Moh Chul-min at the Egypt National Day reception on Thursday. (John Power/The Korea Herald)

Former Egyptian president Mubarak resigned last February after weeks of protests against his 30-year rule. Protesters had decried high unemployment, heavy-handed state security and the absence of democratic elections and freedom of speech, among other grievances. A transitional military government currently rules the country, with popular elections due to be held in October. Foreign monitors will not be permitted to oversee the process.

El-Zorkany said his country’s experience was a lesson to other countries that the people could not be ignored.

“Egypt, I think, is passing a very important message to some countries in this world that the voice of the people must be heard,” he said at the reception, which was attended by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s first vice minister Moh Chul-min and other ambassadors to Korea.

El-Zorkany, addressing Moh, also said Korea’s experience of democracy could be instructive for Egypt.

“Your model is also inspirational for us. It’s a very successful model which yielded result and the result are obvious and they speak for themselves. We are all here in Korea and we can witness what Korean democracy has achieved for the development of the country,” he said.

The ambassador added that relations between Korea and his country made his job easy.

“In all fields of endeavor, whether political, economic, cultural, I think relations are being taken to new heights and new levels. And I’m sure in the future Egypt-Korea relations will develop even further.”

Moh then addressed the crowed, highlighting how far ties between the countries have come since formal diplomatic relations were established in 1995.

“Korea and Egypt have extended exchanges reflective of our society including in politics, economy and culture. Starting with the 10th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2005, many bilateral cultural exchanges have been held including contemporary art exhibitions and film festivals,” said the first vice minister.

Moh also pointed to the success of hallyu as further closing the gap between the two countries.

“In addition Korean TV dramas have started being aired in Egypt. All these combine to create growing interest in Korean culture among Egyptians,” he said.

Moh added that his ministry was striving to see these cultural ties grow into the future.

“Building on this interest, in May this year the (Korean) Culture Ministry integrated the Window of Korea at the national library and archive in Cairo. This room, which is dedicated to providing Korea-related materials, is part of efforts to further extend the horizon of bilateral cultural exchanges.”

By John Power (john.power@heraldcorp.com)
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