Generations Find Common Ground for a Better Egypt

For the past decade, Cairo attorney Asharf Badawy has been a member of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling political party. If it were up to him, Badawy said, Mubarak would have been allowed to remain in office until new elections. Sitting behind his desk in his law office cluttered with files, Badawy, 58, described Mubarak as “a good man” who did his best, but also admitting “that’s not the same as success.”

As he spoke, Badawy’s son Mohammed listened and shook his head. “We agree to disagree,” said Mohammed, 25. “There is a difference in generations.”

Much like this entire country, the Badawy family is trying to come to terms with Egypt’s past while preparing for its future.

The elder Badawy said he twice met Mubarak, most recently 2 years ago. When asked if he voted for Mubarak in the last presidential election in 2005, he said yes, but had an “excuse.” In halting English Badawy said Mubarak was the best of the 10 candidates running and that “sometimes when you choose from a lot of things you choose the best of the bad.” Critics said the election was a fraud, with Mubarak winning more than 85 percent of the vote.

Mohammed Badawy, a dentist, who trained for a semester in the United States, said that at times he felt embarrassed by his father’s support for Mubarak. During the18-day revolution, he said he rallied along with thousands in Tahrir Square. He also said he changed his dad’s mind because “he woke me up to go to the protests.”

The senior Badawy admits sometimes “voices were loud” while discussing politics, but that his son “has to have his opinion.” He also acknowledged that swept up in the mood of the country, on three occasions he also attended rallies on the square. He said he was “with the revolution, but only up to certain limits.”

Father and son say they will always have their differences, but rather than those differences tearing them apart, the politics of Egypt has brought them closer together. They respect their differing views while sharing hope for the future. “I know this is just the beginning, said Mohammed, “yet I am optimistic.”