When the Egyptian uprising first unfolded many good souls were full of the joys of (Arab) spring and forecasting democracy, equal rights for all, and puppies and rainbows and all sorts of good things. People who warned against getting carried away on this tide of ecstasy, who gave the alarm about Islamist groups taking over the revolution because they were the best-organized, in fact the only organized group, as opposed to the spontaneous Facebook and Twitter driven protestors, were called anti-democrats, anti-Arabs, racists and alarmists.
So, how’s that Egyptian uprising going for you? Not so well actually.
In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.
It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.
As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.
“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”
There had been hope that democratic elections would take place at some stage in Egypt, but since the revolution the Islamists have rushed to push the date as near as possible in order not to give the secular democrats a chance to organize. This had been entirely foreseeable – except for those wearing terminally rose-tinted spectacles.
The amendments essentially call for speeding up the election process so that parliamentary contests can be held before September, followed soon after by a presidential race. That expedited calendar is seen as giving an advantage to the Brotherhood and to the remnants of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, which have established national networks.
A banner hung by the Muslim Brotherhood in a square in Alexandria instructed voters that it was their “religious duty” to vote “yes” on the amendments.
In the end, 77.2 percent of those who voted said yes.
He would not comment on whether the Brotherhood had an arrangement with the military, but he said the will of the people to shift toward Islam spoke for itself and was a sign of Egypt’s emerging democratic values. “Don’t trust the intellectuals, liberals and secularists,” Mr. Erian said. “They are a minor group crying all the time. If they don’t work hard, they have no future.”
But the more secular forces say that what they need is time.
And yet, those rose-tinted glasses will not be dimmed. Within this same NY Times article there is this
This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state. From the first days of the protests, Brotherhood leaders proclaimed their dedication to religious tolerance and a democratic and pluralist form of government. They said they would not offer a candidate for president, that they would contest only a bit more than a third of the total seats in Parliament, and that Coptic Christians and women would be welcomed into the political party affiliated with the movement.
None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”
And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to you.
Since the revolution, mysterious “peace-loving” “democratic” “gunmen” have shown their tolerance towards the West and Israel by trying – twice – to blow up the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline.
Six gunmen in Sinai targeted the pipeline that carries natural gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan on Sunday, overpowering a guard and planting an explosive device before fleeing, The Associated Press reported.
The explosive device failed to detonate and was eventually defused by soldiers at the gas terminal in the village of el-Sabil near el-Arish, AP quoted an Egyptian security official as saying.
Last month, the Egyptian army deployed hundreds of additional soldiers to the northern Sinai Peninsula to guard the pipeline.
An Israeli defense official said Jerusalem had agreed to the deployment, which followed a February 5 explosion at a gas terminal in the area that disrupted the flow of gas to Israel and Jordan. Security officials said a bomb had caused the blast at the el- Arish terminal, while Egypt’s natural gas company said it had been caused by a gas leak.
Meanwhile, back in Tunisia where hopes were truly high that a secular democratic government would come to power, given that even back in the bad old days Tunisia was Western-oriented and relatively benign to the Jews, the situation is not so rosy for the Jewish community.
…about 25 families of Tunisian Jews who are moving to Israel. Since the revolution, the anti-Jewish hatred has reached such a pitch that the tiny Jewish community can no longer stay.
Tunisia. Reputed to be moderate, liberal, open to the West. So much so that it still had a (very small) Jewish presence, unlike the rest of the Arab world. (There are Jews also in Morocco). Also, the only part of the Arab revolution so far where even skeptical observers felt things were going well.
Here’s a thought for the morning: what happens if a year from now it is clear the Arab Spring caused an Islamist takeover of the entire region?
Worrying thoughts to ponder.