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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

What Now for Egypt?

I received this email discussion on Egypt from Ranbir Singh from the Hindu Human Rights Group reproduced in verbatim:

"The dramatic events in Egypt over the last week have taken the world by surprise even more than the dramatic departure of Ben Ali from Tunisia. For decades America and other western countries backed autocrats such as Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in the vain hope that they would stave off a more radical Islamic government, conveniently ignoring that even such “secularists” run administrations where discrimination against religious and even ethnic minorities is rife. In Egypt 2011 was heralded in with bombings of a packed church in Alexandria, just one of a series of an increasingly intolerant environment of those deemed to be somehow “different” from the Muslim majority. But even on more subtle levels Egyptians who gave not adhered to the majority faith by virtue of being Christians, Bahais or freethinkers have suffered official wrath. The petty interference which inhibits repairs to churches, the barriers to changing faith or having none according to one’s private conscience via the mechanism of identity cards marking religion, and mainstream television drama which depicts a conspiracy by Jews to dominate the world as fact hardly demonstrate a modern forward looking state and society. Add to that the high state of illiteracy, rampant unemployment, a yawning gap between rich and poor, constant sexual harassment, the sickening uninhibited racial abuse of Egyptians of clear African descent who are abused with names like “black monkey” and abeed (slave), lack of clear and sustainable economic development, incomes unable to keep up with inflationary pressure on food and basic consumer goods and you have a veritable powder keg.

Throughout news reports various commentators have said that without Mubarak the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to take power. This ignores that Egypt has actually undergone successive Islamisation since the military took power in 1952, even under the secularists General Nasser, while Sadat used political Islam in order to neutralise democratic pressure to reform from secularists, liberals and the Left. The bogey of political Islam and the fear of another “Iran” has not only been used to bolster Mubarak but also ignores the strong tradition of liberalism and secularism which existed in Egypt until 1952 and of which vestiges remain, working quietly in the shadows in order to stave off the unhealthy attention of both radical Islam and the authoritarian Mubarak regime. While it is always tempting to idealise a golden age that never existed, nevertheless the period of monarchy before 1952 did provide a more healthy and open society, where ideas were discussed freely and democratic mechanisms were accorded greater respect. If western democracies are truly desirous of helping the people of Egypt strengthening those liberal forces which could harness energies in building greater economic, social and political justice. That would certainly be of greater effect than sending millions in aid to be squandered on a military regime in the manner of a mafia style protection racket."

1 comment:

  1. Hi Wilson, I'm just posting this here, relating to Pakistan's near neighbour Iran. Shows reality of regime in Iran