With words we can only hope to do but a small justice to the profound achievement of the Egyptian people. Obama’s quoting of the famous words by Martin Luther King were perfectly fitting for a non-violent revolution characterised by a visible unity and sense of togetherness in the pursuit of freedom. There have been those who have categorised the long struggle in the Arab world against dictatorships as a type of inherent backwardness, with the Arabs only recently discovering the notion of freedom. Ironically it is those who hold this view who have supported the very regimes through whom fear and oppression have for so long stamped upon even the smallest flames of liberation. However the outbreak of revolutionary spirit in parts of the Arab world is not the discovery of freedom but its release from the clasps of foreign branded despotism. It is telling of the darker side of human existence that so often throughout history, freedom itself has been taken prisoner, truly only the deluded and corrupt are capable of such inhumanity the blood of which will never wash off.
The mass jubilation of the Egyptian people has been long overdue and from it we must take two things in particular. Firstly Egypt cannot permit the throes of dictatorship to ever return, the values of freedom and liberty must never again be subject to the chains of so called stability. Secondly that freedom is truly a universal part of humankind and those still standing who continue deny others of it must be dealt the same fate as Mubarak.
The idea that Egypt should become democratic must be treated with caution, of course individual freedoms and opposition must prevail but these are not exclusive to this absurdly broad conception of democracy. How for instance can it be so generally accepted amongst the self proclaimed democratic world that Israel is a democratic state, considering it denies Palestinians the opportunity to participate in a political process which directly impacts upon virtually every element of their lives?. An absurd delusion of grandeur mirrored in the plight of the African Americans who during World War II were sent abroad to fight for democratic rights which they were denied at home. So perplexed is the democratic world by what they perceive to be a reluctance amongst others to be free, regularly glossing over clear consequences of mass external aid propping up puppet dictatorships.
Egypt will not, and certainly should not forget the role the US played, essentially indirectly contributing to oppression and despotism, or what Mubarak’s PR teams call stability. There will be no doubt the US and others will seek the ear of whatever government prevails from this revolution, however of greater importance is a great debt owed to the Palestinian people for the tragedy of their treatment under Mubarak. Celebrations in Gaza indicated a new hope amongst this too often forgotten peoples whose suffering greatly trounces that of the Egyptian people. Freedom for the Palestinians has not so much been imprisoned rather its very roots ripped from the ground. The Egyptian nation could set a truly inspiring example of moral action in the international arena based upon an inspiring sense of unity amongst the revolting populations.
There is little need to recount the jubilation of this momentous occasion for the pride and happiness of the Egyptian people is a feeling shared by many. Rather as dawn emerges on a new era in Egyptian history there is still much left to do. The political landscape remains cloudy, there appears to be a broad trust of the Army amongst the Egyptian populace and who are we external observers to question their judgement or understanding. The Army maintaining power until elections are to be held is a somewhat safe option in that the formation of a provisional temporary government would contain a lot more unknowns and potential instability. However it is difficult not to be tentative over the role to be played by a military which still contains embers of the Mubarak regime within it. For the moment this appears to be the prevailing option with many of the protesters obeying the Army’s command to leave Tahrir square supposedly as part of a return to normality.
What is key for Egypt is to embrace a true political pluralism which eluded even the much revered Nasser. So far the greatest crime the Muslim Brotherhood has supposedly committed (apart from being Islamic) is being anti-Israeli, in which case a large proportion of the Egyptian population would have to be removed from a broadly Western conception of Egyptian Democracy. It is not yet entirely clear on whether the Brotherhood would take on the challenge of leading the country, and it would seem somewhat pre-mature to discuss such a scenario. What is of greater importance is that they are allowed political freedom to stand in genuinely open elections and participate in an open political discourse leading up to the future election. Their critics from abroad stand in a precarious position calling for Egyptian democracy while arguing that the largest opposition movement be barred from participating. As Mubarak displayed elections are not necessarily a sign of democracy, individual freedoms and political freedom are thankfully transcendent of such easily manipulated political processes. What is needed is a form of governance which permits civil society to flourish within broad limits, simply labelling this Democracy is to restrict Egypt to the great baggage which such a label has historically collected. Egypt must not allow itself to be dictated to in terms of forming a political system, rather its destiny must be of its own conception, subject to the deliberation of the Egyptian people in line with the values, ideas and beliefs which characterise them.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
Latest posts by CME (see all)
- “Terrorist, plain and simple”? The misleading strategy behind the “terrorist” tag. – October 6, 2015
- Letter Smuggled out of Egyptian Prisons: Esraa El Taweel Speak – July 14, 2015
- We must not forget Abu-Salim – July 7, 2015