Sunday, April 3, 2011

DAY 315 COUNTDOWN TO EGYPTIAN DEMOCRACY

While one can still hope for a turnaround, it is increasingly looking like the optimistic predictions of imminent democracy resulting from the overthrow of President Mubarak were just that, optimistic.  The Egyptian Army, which is now in control, is not slaughtering people a la Libya, and people certainly feel freer to speak out.  However, the situation still looks a lot unlike a liberal democracy. 

With new elections just six months away, there is reason for hope.  However, the relative rush to elections gives Mubarak's old party and the Muslim Brotherhood a big leg up over the long-dormant or dead liberal, secular parties.  Moreover, even if these parties did have a fair start, extensive polling in the last few years in the Arab world, including Egypt, shows a depressingly strong showing for Islamisty parties, for Muslim domination, against pluralism and tolerance for others, and for the oppresion of women. 

A free and open society coupled with a delay in elections might have helped change this around, but changes in major societal attitudes usually take years of education and enlightenment.  Such changes certainly are not going to occur fast enough for the upcoming Egyptian elections.

As I said in prior posts, the predictions of Egyptian democracy, at least in the short-term, were naive and showed a disregard or ignorance of the Arab world.  I also said that Americans and the media would soon forget about Egypt, focus its attention elsewhere, and only come back to Egypt if there were some bloody blowup.  I must admit that I was wrong on that prediction.  Egypt continues to get a fair share of attention.  However, this is true only because the story has broadened to be the Arab uprising of the week and it only makes sense to occasionally look back to the initial uprisings for an update and a reference point.

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