Rania Abouzeid considers what the events in Egypt signal to other “Arab Spring” countries:
Egyptians aren’t the only ones watching. The rise of political Islamism during the so-called Arab Spring was in many ways a reaction to the repression of Islamists under the various secular regimes they helped topple in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Their rise was like a recoil after the restrictions on their political participation were lifted. An equilibrium was bound to be reached at some point, although the fear was always that, once in power, Islamists might curtail the very freedoms that helped them get there—one vote, one time, so to speak. What is the message from the pro-democracy advocates in Tahrir Square? Was it that if the results at the ballot box don’t go your way, and your interests coincide with that of the military, it’s fine to depose Egypt’s first democratically elected leader? That even if Islamists play by democracy’s rules and win an election, they can be undemocratically removed?
Many Egyptians, it appears, would say yes.
I was struck by this quote from an Egyptian woman in the NYT today:
“Why is it just ballot boxes? Are ballot boxes the only forms of democratic expression when the rulers fail the people? Why did we have to bear his bad administration at a time when the country cannot cope with such failure?”
What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?
Like others, I remain conflicted about what just happened in Egypt – worried about the coup precedent, yet relieved by the ouster of someone incapable of uniting the country. But the faces on the streets, the unusually massive public demonstrations, and the dismal record of Morsi tip the balance, in the end, for me, for now. The integration of the Arab Muslim world into modernity will be messy, protracted and contain any number of twists and turns. Our role should be patience and distance, not micromanagement. This is their struggle before it is ours. And we have to let them lead us, not the other way round.
(Photo: An Egyptian woman celebrates in Tahrir Square, the day after former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, was ousted from power on July 4, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. By Ed Giles/Getty Images.)