Fireworks blazing, people chanting and crowds form amid the sound of tank tracks moving into position. While many people watching the news are looking to Egypt with uncertainty, the essence of democracy appears to be laying it's foundation among the Egyptian people. A time of decisions and conflict is continuing within Egypt and with this the future of the Egypt as a country is being formed. While the current situation in Egypt appears to be teetering on the brink of war, there are still many signs that Egyptians will come together and maintain a loud peace in the coming months and years. Democracy does not happen over night and Egypt provides an example to those living in the "West" of exactly what our own country has gone through upon the adoption of democracy and freedom. Egypt is more than just a conflict zone waiting to happen, it is a glimpse of our past through a lens pointed toward the future.
Over the past few weeks, I have been following news reports showcasing the removal of Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi and what many argue is a coup d'etat by the Egyptian military. My first impression upon seeing the military move in was naturally that a general or some high ranking military officer would step forward and assume control of the country immediately after removing the president. What shocked me more than anything else is the reality that this did not happen. While the military is currently controlling things from a distance, it appears their influence is mainly within the background. While this still does not make their actions any more democratic it does enforce the fact that the military believes democracy within Egypt is occurring or at the very least a possibility. People tend to forget that an interim president was selected by the Egyptian courts to resume until elections could be held. This further shows that some form of stability via Egyptian institutions still remains within the country and as a result further enforces the hope that a civil war will not commence.
The situation in Egypt allows for an important example to western countries because it gives us a glimpse at the early workings of a democracy, many people with many voices pushing their way to gather some say in the direction of a country. In Egypt, it appears the division currently faced by the people is between the Muslim Brotherhood and the more secular general population. Like many other countries in history, Egypt is showing us what happens when you have two identical groups gathered at a crossroads and dividing themselves based on the factors that garner a uniqueness among them. Realistically, the only factor that appears to be dividing Egyptians is religion, everything else is a spinoff of this blatant point.
While it appears right that religion be kept out of politics within the country, it also appears very wrong that an elected official be taken out of office at the request of the military, whom in reality is in place to serve such an individual on behalf of the national security of the people. Can we argue that the removal of Morsi did in fact serve the national interest of Egyptians? I would probably say yes, only because if anything the military has saved Mohammed Morsi from assassination by those who opposed his prospective amendments to the Egyptian constitution.
Egyptians need to remember that their revolution is still very fresh and that just because an election was held does not mean they have reached democracy! If anything, the election that put Morsi into power reflects more on the definition of a true democracy than it does in enforcing that a democracy actually exists. For example, many allegations have surfaced that people were fed to vote in support of Muslim Brotherhood candidates. While these allegations remain rumours within the conflict, it does ask you to reflect on the foundation that a true democracy rests. A democracy is generally defined as a system of freedom and equality that attributes one vote per person, but while this definition is important as a general description, it fails in properly including economic factors into the equation. If someone is starving on the street and cannot support themselves or their family, are they truly in a position to say they are free? While their vote does count equally as anyone else in their society, how can we argue democracy has been achieved when the majority of the country is unemployed, underemployed, undereducated or simply outcast?
What Egypt needs more right now than another election is an action plan that can gain consensus from all parties on how to mitigate the issues plaguing their economy. Lets face it...if it wasn't for the majority of youth unemployed and bored, Egyptian rebels may not have even garnered the appropriate support that led overall to the overthrow of Mubarak. You cannot argue against this point because realistically what the Egyptian revolution (Arab Spring) relied upon is the exact issue plaguing our current political system in Canada. We have a disconnection between Canadian youth and the political system that they so heavily depend on, but do not realize.
I am not surprised that president Obama has not only not chosen a party to back in this conflict, but also takes caution at the idea that a military has taken it into it's own hands to remove an elected official. The military has made this revolution to good to be true I would argue as a result of their actions. If enough people gathered once again and eventually pushed Morsi out, alright, we have the people speaking their voices and pushing for a proper change. However, now that the military has taken the move to act on behalf of a certain portion of the population, they have not only derailed the possibility of positive democratic development in Egypt, but have also created a rift between Egyptians, further separating them. One can only question if Mubarak supports within the military still exist that may have led to this possible outcome.
Egyptians need to form solid and legitimate institutions within their society before they can properly proclaim that they have founded a democratic political system. Until then, any progress made by the current system of politics will fail as it has in many other countries who have been in a similar situation. You only need to look at Soviet Russia to see how well it worked out when the military began dictating political decisions and the eventual outcome. A system broken and a country starving as corruption filled the void left when freedom and individuality were taken away by AK-47's and tanks.
Until Muslims within Egypt join hands with their secular brothers and extend a hand of peace to other secular nations willing to assist them, progress in Egypt will not commence. A democracy must be free and with that commitment, it must also be unbiased and free from religion and military rule. This is no small pill to swallow, but is crucial in the development of Egypt's political stability and economic revival. If the country is to proper, it needs to come to a consensus on which direction it wants to head in and how it plans on supporting the requirements needed to fulfill this change. I can tell you with utmost certainty that this upcoming election will not quell the rage people are currently feeling regarding the identity of their country, but realistically in any democratic country, can we expect everyone to remain happy with the decisions made and the people elected? Of course not, but we can expect that when these people voice themselves, they do so with the freedom of knowing their voices count and that their security is confirmed regardless of their political allegiance.
Change is coming to Egypt as a country and Egyptians as a free people, what needs to happen between now and then is the what has happened in any free and democratic country, what remains important is that Egyptians not only step back and look at themselves, but also who they want to become.
Until Next Time!