An Egyptian woman shows the ink on her finger after voting in an historic presidential election Wednesday, May 23, 2012, outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Egyptian wisdom

“It is enough that the new president will know he could go to jail if he does something wrong."

Glenn Greenwald
May 24, 2012 5:36PM (UTC)

The New York Times reports on the inspiring scenes across Egypt as millions wait in line to elect their new President. The article contains numerous quotes from ordinary Egyptian citizens explaining their sense of optimism that democratic accountability is coming to their country for the first time in a very long time, as illustrated by this passage:

Others felt their own power as citizens, for the first time. In a country where a journalist was fined and jailed two years ago for speculating in print about the health of Mr. Mubarak, in this race leading candidates detailed their infirmities, and one volunteered his medical records in a televised debate.

“It is enough that the new president will know he could go to jail if he does something wrong,” said Mohamed Maher, 28, waiting to vote in Imbaba.

Maher knows that the anchor of accountability and political fairness -- the core principle preserving minimal levels of freedom -- is that even the highest and most powerful political leaders will be subjected to criminal liability when they break the law. Imagine what it would be like if that principle prevailed in the U.S.


Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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