Why Egypt Gives Me Hope
February 16, 2011 • 1 views
Filed under Opinions
During the Egyptian protests, many American political commentators voiced concern over the overthrow of President Mubarak and had fears about the possible ramifications of a true Egyptian democracy.
I, for one, could not disagree more. I am more optimistic about the future of the world than I have been for quite some time.
Egypt is one of the largest and most secular countries in the Middle East. However, for the past 30 years, they have been ruled by the same hostile ruler. All of this changed when the Egyptian people used peaceful protest, even in the face of violent government repression, to make their voices heard and throw Mubarak out of the country.
The pundits who are worried about the protests fear that radical Muslims will fill the political void that has been left by the outgoing President and turn Egypt into a theocracy. This idea is somewhat reasonable considering that this is exactly what happened during the Iranian Revolution in the early 1980’s. However, there is a big difference between these two movements.
In Iran, the people weren’t asking for democracy. They just wanted the Shah, a leader placed by the United States after we overthrew their democracy in the 1950’s, out of power. In Egypt, it is an entirely different story. They want the same freedoms that we as Americans take for granted every single day, regardless of religious affiliation. One protester put it best when he said “Whether you are a Muslim, a Christian or an Atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights!” That sounds an awful lot like what our Founding Fathers said when forming this country, albeit without the cursing.
Even when these people were being run over by government vehicles and shot in cold blood by riot police, they never backed down. They made the ultimate sacrifice in order to make a better country for their children to live in. These are the exact ideals that America is supposed to, and should, stand for.
Watching the Egyptian people practice this kind of freedom of speech even in the face of adversity warmed my heart. The fact that Egyptians will now be able to experince this same kind of freedom without challenge from the government is even better.
This pro-democracy fervor could very well spread to other Middle Eastern countries. There have already been sights of protests in Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, and even Iran, where protests failed to fix a broken election system in 2009. Egypt shows all other countries that they do not have to tolerate an oppressive government.
They have proven what we Americans have believed for centuries: the best kind of government is one of the people, by the people, and for the people.
If other Middle Eastern countries respond to these protests in the same way the Egyptians responded to the Tunisian protests, we may see the world change in the most dramatic fashion since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The best part is that this change would be towards the kind of ideals and principles that we have been trying to instill in other nations for years.
For us, it means that the United States will finally be able to deal with countries in the region that share our basic values of governance.
In 17 days, Egypt has achieved what it has taken us years to achieve by force in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe the lesson we should take away from this is that revolutions are best left to the nations themselves.
As someone who grew up watching the United States fight two wars in order to instill democratic values in Middle Eastern countries, it is refreshing for me to see a nation attain rights on its own.
The real takeaway is that Egypt is now the template for democratic revolution in the Middle East. And that is something to be excited about.