ElBaradei leaves stage after protesters call him a 'murderer'

ElBaradei leaves stage after protesters call him a 'murderer'
3 min read
17 May, 2017
The New Arab spoke to protesters who forced former Egyptian Vice-President Mohammed ElBaradei off the stage during a talk at a London university.
Elbaradei gave his lecture at SOAS in London [The New Arab]
Angry protesters forced Egypt's former Vice-president Mohammed ElBaradei to postpone his lecture at a London university by a full 20 minutes on Wednesday.

Around five people stood up during ElBaradei's talk at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and hounded the Egyptian politician, calling him a "dog", "coward" and "killer" until an event organiser asked him to leave the stage.

The one-time Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nobel Peace Prize winner gave a lecture on the "inextricable link between human dignity and a sustainable world".

But before ElBaradei was even able to start his speech a group of protesters hurled insults at him, saying he would be "consigned to the rubbish bin of history".

After the protest, one of the protesters told The New Arab that the group was not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, but members of a group called the "Egyptian Revolutionary Council".

You cannot switch from an authoritarian system to a democracy overnight - this is not instant coffee.

"ElBaradei is a killer - he was a coward who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Egyptians," Nihal Abo Saif, an Egyptian doctor who lives in Birmingham, told The New Arab.

"He assisted the Tamarod [anti-government rebellion] against Morsi, instead of supporting the president. He made this coup behind his back and helped Sisi make the military coup, becoming his vice-president."

Security were called to the event during the protest and calmly asked the demonstrators until they decided to leave the hall of their own accord.

A spokesperson for SOAS said that ElBaradei lecture was focused on human dignity and world order.

Flyer against Elbaradei
A copy of the flyer given out by the protesters [Source: The New Arab]

"A disruption took place at the start of the event. Dr ElBaradei was heckled by a small number of protesters."

"The organisers alerted security who then asked the people heckling the speaker to leave. In total the talk paused for about 20 minutes before it resumed.

"Our position has always been, and remains, that SOAS is a place which promotes freedom of debate and has a long tradition of hosting speakers from all over the world."

Prof Gilbert Achcar, professor of Development Studies and International Relations at SOAS, gave his "sincerest apologies" for the "disruption" to Elbaradei, during a closed-question session after the lecture.

ElBaradei dismissed the need for an apology, saying: "It comes with the territory." 

The ex-vice president then answered four questions on geopolitics from Achcar, but fielded no questions from the public or press after the lecture - leaving the venue shortly after he finished speaking.

During his speech, ElBaradei made frequent references to a need for a global paradigm shift, saying that the current world system was untenable.

"Artificial intelligence is working so fast, and there is a serious fear that we will create a robot who will then dominate us - who will be more intelligent than us and manipulate us - maybe that's better," said Elbaradei .

"We haven't done anything for ourselves."

Talking of the need for reform in Egypt, he said that transition to democracy would take time. 
"Egypt since 1952 is under an autocratic, authoritarian [political] system."

"You cannot switch from an authoritarian system to a democracy overnight - this is not instant coffee."

"You need to give it time to brew, democracy is about culture, it's about institutions, about civil society."

The Tamarod (translation: rebellion) was a grassroots political petition that claimed to gather 22 million signatures in 2013 in favour of early elections.

The movement, which received Elbaradei's support, was instrumental in leading to the June 2013 protests, which ultimately led to a military coup led by current president, Abdelfatah al-Sisi.

Elbaradei later stepped down as vice-president of Egypt following the Rabaa massacre, in which security forces killed around a thousand protesters in Cairo in August 2013.