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Egyptian Spring, unraveling

egyptian anchorwomanRaise your hand if you thought a Muslim Brotherhood-led government was a viable solution for Egypt. From the minute bearded Morsi oh so politely strode upon the world scene, from the minute he cleaned up the military until then considered untouchable, from the minute he put his head-scarfed female journalists on national Egyptian TV, one could guess where this was going. What will it take for the world to understand that no religious tenets can ever, ever replace government, let alone Islam’s? Even the Obama administration for whom Egypt can do no harm as long as it more or less heeds its uneasy 1979 peace with Israel should recognize this.

Islam stopped being a respectable religion decades ago when it morphed into hard-core political ideology. We know ideologies, thank you, we’ve had more than our share over the last century. Communism in a great part of the world and National Socialism in Germany, to name the worse two, were two glaring illustrations of how a sick, perverse system can destroy people. Islam as it is spreading today is the new scourge, though still practiced by multitudes taken hostage by extremism and unaware that the new incendiary creed has nothing to do with the mild faith of their fathers. The umma or world domination which until now remained the symbolic expression of a myth is gaining credence as an actual goal in the minds of power-hungry new leaders giddy with the recent successes of Islamist movements.

Unfortunately, past history teaches us no lessons or we might remember what happened when the Walhalla or paradise of Teutonic knights turned from myth to goal. The world will pay dearly if it refuses to see the harbingers of things to come. We’ll continue to turn our head the other way as Turkey slides into harsher islamification; we’ll witness, helpless, the rebels against Syria’s murderous Bashar Assad count more than a few Al-Qaeda and other shady religious zealots in their ranks; we’ll seriously discuss the intentions of the Iranian theocracy as though Shiite thugs could sit across the table for a civilized discussion.

So what am I saying? That Egypt’s President Mubarak was better than the present ruffian? Oh, goodness, yes! He was corrupt and brutal and the word democracy was not even part of his vocabulary but at least he prevented Islamists from getting a platform.

The other day, during the demonstrations on Tahrir Square, a 27-year old woman told journalists that she had been verbally attacked by a veiled woman who yelled at her that she would soon have to cover up. “I don’t want to be told how to dress,” she said. “That’s why I’m here today.”

Good luck with that!

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  1. Jonathan
    December 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    What a pleasure to see someone 100 percent cut thru the bullshit. How sad–and scary–that so much of the international media seems to misapprehend what is happening and are too busy choosing sides or dutifully reporting the surface of the action rather than the underlying forces/causes, to be of any use whatsoever to those who depend on it for their window on the world. Three cheers to this deeply perceptive and starkly sober and realistic observer!

    Jonathan Agronsky

  2. Amineh McKellip
    December 8, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Brilliantly put as always. Saideh. I met an Eygytian last year who told me how he feared for the future of Eygpt without Mubarak, though not a supporter at all. He, and you, are so right. And being a Christian, he is now afraid to go back to visit his family there.

  3. alinaderzad
    December 8, 2012 at 7:11 am

    excellent viewpoint. Thank you

  4. Jean Pailler
    December 8, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Brilliant and well put as ever. The passage on Mubarak is something to meditate upon: morality has nought to do with the exercise of power. “Good”, “nice”, “kind” rulers have often proved the worst for their country. It needs a ruthless mind and the acceptance of being hated, to be a good leader. Also, a pragmatic mind. As soon as the leader loses contact with reality, he loses all legitimacy. Ideology -whatever its colour- puts on reality, first a veil, then a shroud.

  5. December 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Much food for thought, Saideh.

    Here are mine:

    Mubarak? He had to go because (i) he had been there way too long and (ii) he failed at the major task of creating or strengthening institutions that could succeed and survive him. “We” might have preferred him, but “we” are not the Egyptian majority: numerous, very poor, harboring no hope for a better future, and clinging to the one thing they think is real and credible: religion.

    The Muslim Brotherhood? they were bound to have their day as the only organized opposition force of the last many decades. They have no choice however but to take into account the aspirations of their followers, and those include pushing for “head-scarfed journalists on national TV”.

    Morsi? he is of and from the Brotherhood, but he is also the president of all Egyptians. He can either be a force for more inclusiveness or act like another Ahmadinejad. He started well, but he is now fumbling and his poor judgement about the importance of a new constitution that is credible and broadly accepted might well make him another “wanabee turban-less ayatollah”.

    The liberal opposition? They have shown amazing clarity of purpose and guts. So much more than the lranian seculars demonstrated after the 1979 revolution. It is they who can keep Egypt on the right path towards gradually improved institutions, democracy and prosperity. Observing their courage, I remain cautiously optimistic about Egypt coming out with better institutions and starting to address the country’s huge economic challenge.

    As for the US, we should encourage inclusiveness but avoid appearing as interfering in the domestic affairs of Egypt Here too, I believe that the Obama administration is holding the right balance.

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