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Author Topic: Egypt
Marlene
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Op-Ed Columnist
Unfit for Democracy?
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: February 26, 2011


CAIRO
Damon Winter/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof
On the Ground

Nicholas Kristof is posting from Cairo on his blog whenever he has Internet access.


Is the Arab world unready for freedom? A crude stereotype lingers that some people — Arabs, Chinese and Africans — are incompatible with democracy. Many around the world fret that “people power” will likely result in Somalia-style chaos, Iraq-style civil war or Iran-style oppression.

That narrative has been nourished by Westerners and, more sadly, by some Arab, Chinese and African leaders. So with much of the Middle East in an uproar today, let’s tackle a politically incorrect question head-on: Are Arabs too politically immature to handle democracy?

This concern is the subtext for much anxiety today, from Washington to Riyadh. And there’s no question that there are perils: the overthrow of the shah in Iran, of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, of Tito in Yugoslavia, all led to new oppression and bloodshed. Congolese celebrated the eviction of their longtime dictator in 1997, but the civil war since has been the most lethal conflict since World War II. If Libya becomes another Congo, if Bahrain becomes an Iranian satellite, if Egypt becomes controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood — well, in those circumstances ordinary citizens might end up pining for former oppressors.

“Before the revolution, we were slaves, and now we are the slaves of former slaves,” Lu Xun, the great Chinese writer, declared after the toppling of the Qing dynasty. Is that the future of the Middle East?

I don’t think so. Moreover, this line of thinking seems to me insulting to the unfree world. In Egypt and Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve been humbled by the lionhearted men and women I’ve seen defying tear gas or bullets for freedom that we take for granted. How can we say that these people are unready for a democracy that they are prepared to die for?

We Americans spout bromides about freedom. Democracy campaigners in the Middle East have been enduring unimaginable tortures as the price of their struggle — at the hands of dictators who are our allies — yet they persist. In Bahrain, former political prisoners have said that their wives were taken into the jail in front of them. And then the men were told that unless they confessed, their wives would promptly be raped. That, or more conventional tortures, usually elicited temporary confessions, yet for years or decades those activists persisted in struggling for democracy. And we ask if they’re mature enough to handle it?

The common thread of this year’s democracy movement from Tunisia to Iran, from Yemen to Libya, has been undaunted courage. I’ll never forget a double-amputee I met in Tahrir Square in Cairo when Hosni Mubarak’s thugs were attacking with rocks, clubs and Molotov cocktails. This young man rolled his wheelchair to the front lines. And we doubt his understanding of what democracy means?

In Bahrain, I watched a column of men and women march unarmed toward security forces when, a day earlier, the troops had opened fire with live ammunition. Anyone dare say that such people are too immature to handle democracy?

Look, there’ll be bumps ahead. It took Americans six years after the Revolutionary War to elect a president, and we almost came apart at the seams again in the 1860s. When Eastern Europe became democratic after the 1989 revolutions, Poland and the Czech Republic adjusted well, but Romania and Albania endured chaos for years. After the 1998 people power revolution in Indonesia, I came across mobs in eastern Java who were beheading people and carrying their heads on pikes.

The record is that after some missteps, countries usually pull through. Education, wealth, international connections and civil society institutions help. And, on balance, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain are better positioned today for democracy than Mongolia or Indonesia seemed in the 1990s — and Mongolia and Indonesia today are successes. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain visited the Middle East a few days ago (arms dealers in tow), and he forthrightly acknowledged that for too long Britain had backed authoritarian regimes to achieve stability. He acknowledged that his country had bought into the bigoted notion “that Arabs or Muslims can’t do democracy.” And he added: “For me, that’s a prejudice that borders on racism. It’s offensive and wrong, and it’s simply not true.”

It’s still a view peddled by Arab dictatorships, particularly Saudi Arabia — and, of course, by China’s leaders and just about any African despot. It’s unfortunate when Westerners are bigoted in this way, but it’s even sadder when leaders in the developing world voice such prejudices about their own people.

In the 21st century, there’s no realistic alternative to siding with people power. Prof. William Easterly of New York University proposes a standard of reciprocity: “I don’t support autocracy in your society if I don’t want it in my society.”

That should be our new starting point. I’m awed by the courage I see, and it’s condescending and foolish to suggest that people dying for democracy aren’t ready for it.

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crixus
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I, like many others think the new found peace in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, etc. will be short lived. Any real move towards democracy will eventually be squashed by militant Moslem groups. And then things will actually get worse than before. *But this is all a prelude to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Amen! [Bible]

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Keepin' the faith!

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Marlene
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Al-Qaida's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, issued the terror network's first message since the upheaval began in Egypt, saying the country's rule has long "deviated from Islam" and warning that democracy "can only be non-religious."

The wave of popular protests that ousted Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, appeared to have caught al-Qaida off guard. The terror group had long called for the destruction of Mubarak's regime — and al-Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor, was part of a militant uprising against Mubarak in the 1990s that was crushed.

But the demonstrations were led by secular, liberal activists calling for greater democracy — in stark contrast to the Islamic state that al-Zawahri and al-Qaida call for. In past videos and messages, al-Zawahri has frequent denounced democracy because it replaces God's laws with man's.

In the 34-minute videotape issued Friday, al-Zawahri makes no mention on the protests or Mubarak's fall. The video is dated to the Islamic lunar month of Safar, which corresponds with the dates Jan. 5-Feb. 3. It gives no more specific date for its creation.

The only hints that it may have been made since the upheaval that began Jan. 25 were its title, "A Message of Hope and Glad Tidings to Our People in Egypt," and a vague reference by al-Zawahri to "what happened and happens in Egypt."

In it, he gives a long, detailed lecture on Egypt's modern history from the 18th Century, blaming Western colonialists for implanting secular, un-Islamic law, according to a transcript by the SITE Intel group, a U.S. group that monitors militant messages. It said the video, which showed only a still photo of al-Zawahri as his voice is aired, was posted on Islamic militant websites.

The video said it was the first of two parts, aimed at answering the question "what is the reality through which Egypt is living?"

"The reality of Egypt is the reality of deviation from Islam," al-Zawahri said.

He called the Egyptian regime — apparently referring to Mubarak's rule — "a regime that rules the people through the use of torture, rigged elections, corrupt media and an unjust justice system."

He dismissed the claims by Mubarak's regime of democracy, and then dismissed democracy in general. Democracy, he said, "means that sovereignty is to the desires of the majority, without committing to any quality, value or creed. A democratic state can only be secular, meaning non-religious."

For the remainder of the video, he describes Egypt's fall into secularism from its former Islamic rule under the Ottoman Empire.

The video did not say when the second part was to be released, but it appeared that in it al-Zawahri was to answer a second question, "How do we change this reality to what Islam wanted us to have."

Al-Zawahri, like al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, is believed to be in hiding in the mountainous border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Eduardo Grequi
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So the Domino effect has started. Pro-democracy. The majority rules. So what do this mean. Is all democracy the same? or is some democracy harmful to geninuine rights for all human-kind? What do you think about American form of democracy currently being protrayed? Has it changed or has the core values still been maintained?
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Marlene
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The Qur'an also mentions Gog and Magog:

"Then he continued his way until he came to the place where the sun riseth; and he found it to rise on certain people unto whom we had not given anything wherewith to shelter themselves there from. Thus it was; and we comprehended with our knowledge the forces that were with him. And he prosecuted his journey from south to north, until he came between the two mountains, beneath which he found certain people, who could scarce understand what was said. And they said: O Zul karnein, verily Gog and Magog waste the land; shall we therefore pay thee tribute, on condition that thou build a rampart between us and them? The power wherewith my Lord had strengthened me is better than your tribute; but assists me strenuously, and I will set a strong wall between you and them. Bring me iron in large pieces, until it fills up the space between the two sides of these mountains. And he said to the workmen, blow with your bellows, until it make the iron red hot as fire. And he said further, bring me molten brass that I may pour upon it. Wherefore, when this wall was finished, Gog and Magog could not scale it, neither could they dig through it. And Zul karnein said this is a mercy from my Lord: but when the prediction of my Lord shall come to be fulfilled, he shall reduce the wall to dust; and the prediction of my Lord is true." -- Quran, xviii

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Eduardo Grequi
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Remember Egypt and Syria were united in some type of treaty that goes back to the 60's or 50's and was called United Arab Republic. At one time Egypt and Syria were united as single unit. According to my kin folk in Jordan/Israel things are unstable. Just recently Tunisia had similar unrest. Seems to be all related to unemployment. If the USA was presumed to the big reudabega in charge and the dollar the foundation of the Middle-Near east economy any weakening in the USA trigger world collapse. SInce the USA is not stable economy any more. Any government or political leader that identify allied to USA would falter or be marked entity. Is this a false flag? Or should we be watching Russia and Iran? After all The unrest of the world begins from a premptive strike from Gog and Magog thru Meschev.
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John Hale
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It may not have occurred to folks that the only reason America is not already on the ash heap of fallen civilizations is because God's final judgment on her is stayed so long as we stand up for physical Israel.

And we've all but bowed out of that already. We send money and tourists and hope the instability in that region stays out of the Holy Land. But another 6 day war scenario will only produce an opening for the false messiah to step into the lime light.

I have personally seen the burned out shot up buildings that line the Suez canal. Meaning Egypt was a player in that war against Israel. I do not believe a repeat of that situation will be contained in that region.

Our dithering only makes things worse. For us as well as Israel.

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John Hale
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Not good.

Sounds a lot like Iran 1979.

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TB125
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For another comment on this matter see my post regarding "A good revolution" here: http://christianityetc.org/blog/a-good-revolution

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Bob

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Betty Louise
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It does sound possible.
betty

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Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

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Ezekiel 13:20
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Isaiah 19:2- And I wii set the Egyptians against the Egyptians:and they shall fight every one against his brother,and every one against his neighbor;city against city,and kingdom against kingdom.

I'm wondering if this is what's going on there now?
Have they ever had a revolt like this before?

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