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About Democracy in Egypt

Reader comment on item: Why Egypt Will Not Soon Become Democratic

Submitted by Rafi Laufert (Israel), Feb 11, 2011 at 07:25

In the democratic, wealthy and satiated West, it is customary to think that democracy is an asset – if not completely then at least partially. The West and Prof. Ehteshami as well, forget that in order to have democracy in Egypt, it is not enough to have among its' citizens hunger, unemployment and disappointment from the present regime. These citizens are seeking rapid and meaningful change in their day to day lives rather than structural political turmoil.

Acting democracy dictates a social structure that understands its mechanisms and their functions; a structure that understands democracy's philosophical foundations and agrees with them; one that has the education, the mental and technological tools enabling it to cope with democracy's ugly face i.e. manipulative media (if there is freedom of the press) and economic liberalism (without which, as far as one can see, the poor will stay poor, the rich will get richer and the gaps between the two will deepen.) Churchill who was a sarcastic humorist said once:" The best argument against democracy is a five-minute-long conversation with the average voter".

In a country like Egypt where over 60% of the population participating in political life is practically speaking illiterate, the prerequisites of toleration and economic and cultural globalization are not in existence. There is in Egypt an educated young generation and a social elite suitable for the absorption and activation of democratic systems, but for pluralistic democracy in a country of 82 million people, this is not enough.

The various starting points, (as far as levels of suitability for democracy are concerned, of an advanced urban minority vis-à-vis rural or peripheral majority living in a completely different world with different terminology), threaten the existing situation foreboding destruction of it. Even if there is total agreement on the immediate objectives, the points of view will rapidly change once the political struggles start concerning controlling governmental positions, organizational structures and the new power centers that will rise when existing ones are done away with.

Two central forces with sectorial interests operate beside the conceptual, educational and economic uncertainties. The first is the army and the second is the extreme Islamic organizations at the heads of which are the Moslem Brothers. These organizations will constantly search for a way to maintain their status and the ability to make national decisions. If they are pushed back from their traditional positions of power they will react violently.

The heterogeneous public will sense that it is being deceived long after the organizations sectors will, and consequently will react only after some time has elapsed and with less effective means. Therefore, democratization in Egypt, today, is an accepted or tolerated slogan, but no more than that. There is a chance that this slogan will, in the future, become a political reality, but the process leading to it has to be gradual and cautious since the determining factor is ascertaining the feeling of the majority of the populace that there is improvement of its conditions, that its hopes are met and aspirations are being fulfilled by the changes taking place in Egypt.

A concrete change is required - one which the western democratic world can provide if it is mobilized to assist Egypt economically without damaging its esteem, its regional status and the interests of the ruling elite nor those of the ruling organized sectors. But the democratic West usually uses extensive rhetoric instead of a concrete help, where concrete help means giving up some of its eye blinding wealth.

Egypt is a key state in the region. If it crystallizes into a true democracy with the help of the western world, it will strengthen the moderate Islamic groups. If, on the other hand, it will be pushed too quickly towards unfounded utopist declarations, the crowd's disenchantment might push the country towards the extreme Islamic groups and sharpen the phenomena of "Clash of Civilizations" that Huntington spoke of.

In addition to all that was said, one must not forget Iran, the extreme Islamic force with Imperialistic aspirations, atomic plans and subversive well-trained organizations – scattered all over the region. These forces in the region will most certainly not remain idle; neither will the "arms" of the octopus called El-Keida.

Consequently, optimism is a positive attribute; an utopist-opportunistic optimism is a negative one especially in Egypt's case. Whoever speaks of a "Western type" democratic Egypt within a year, possesses the latter trait; I do not see myself as one.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (43) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Islamic countries should stop calling themselves Islamic [519 words]PrashantJan 20, 2017 00:40235590
Mincor correction in my message above [128 words]PrashantJan 21, 2017 01:07235590
1Egypt is the canary in the gold mine [124 words]StasJan 20, 2013 04:37202681
Secular anything is better than a theocracy [185 words]PrashantJan 22, 2017 15:05202681
1Good points [134 words]Peter HerzFeb 11, 2011 19:38182555
1hmmm, i think ive seen that sword logo before [31 words]gemFeb 11, 2011 19:02182551
1Islam and the Future of Planet Earth [14 words]MorganFeb 11, 2011 15:58182546
4About Democracy in Egypt [739 words]Rafi LaufertFeb 11, 2011 07:25182539
Why Egyot will not soon become democratic [174 words]sufi imdad ali soomroFeb 10, 2011 23:37182523
Treaty [39 words]Barry BlackFeb 6, 2011 16:35182370
Ptolomeu and Egyptians [80 words]Breno LimaFeb 6, 2011 14:13182368
1Egypt's status: More of the same or just about [309 words]JACQUES HADIDAFeb 6, 2011 13:41182365
5The Muslim brotherhood flag/logo revisited [122 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 6, 2011 09:26182360
3Illusion and desillusion [123 words]Gabriel AngeFeb 6, 2011 06:55182357
1Illusion and disillusion [291 words]Gabriel AngeFeb 7, 2011 05:23182357
2Democracy in Egypt? No chance [78 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 6, 2011 06:26182355
"Commonality of Values" [43 words]Aminu Adamu BelloFeb 6, 2011 03:52182353
1prospects of democracy in egypt [162 words]prakash khatiwalaFeb 6, 2011 02:23182352
1No chance for democracy [17 words]Sylvia S.Feb 5, 2011 16:22182334
1Look at History [167 words]AfriconFeb 5, 2011 15:19182333
Egypt [12 words]Jon PuriznahskyFeb 5, 2011 13:58182326
4no democracy without religious freedom [103 words]alan glaserFeb 5, 2011 13:31182322
Democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not Egypt? [29 words]SkepticFeb 5, 2011 12:14182319
A sense of right and justice [95 words]Paula Clare YatesFeb 5, 2011 07:18182311
1Election troubles? What troubles? [76 words]UgriFeb 5, 2011 03:43182306
Muslim Paranoia - Why Egypts will not advance to democracy anytime soon [113 words]David MacKAYFeb 5, 2011 02:01182305
Pipes makes sense - where in history have we seen anything different - even the American revolution wasn't a rush job. [106 words]DallasFeb 5, 2011 01:45182304
1Requirements for democracy in Egypt [74 words]yonatan silvermanFeb 5, 2011 00:00182302
Hosni Mubarak [49 words]seadog4227Feb 4, 2011 22:09182295
Fear Not [86 words]Barry BlackFeb 4, 2011 20:37182291
2Mr Pipes is hopefully wrong [256 words]Devils advocateFeb 4, 2011 18:23182284
To Devils advocate [107 words]John in Michigan, USAFeb 4, 2011 22:41182284
4Democracy starts in the womb. [178 words]batya daganFeb 4, 2011 17:54182283
Democracy and Theocracy [24 words]M. MoussaFeb 9, 2011 07:41182283
Hello Moussa [85 words]batya daganFeb 10, 2011 22:06182283
4free egypt [243 words]havasFeb 4, 2011 17:29182280
1Democracy In Egypt [22 words]Clifford IshiiFeb 4, 2011 20:00182280
Egypt not soon Democratic [9 words]Victoria ConroyFeb 4, 2011 17:04182279
Interpreting a poll of Egyptians [338 words]John in Michigan, USAFeb 4, 2011 15:12182277
The Ikhwan May Well Come to Power [71 words]JamesFeb 4, 2011 15:03182276
2Democracy in Egypt [32 words]AceFeb 4, 2011 13:01182271
on target [53 words]Howard BrownFeb 4, 2011 12:33182270
And if there is a vote, hopefully not :One person, one vote, one time." [115 words]Edmund Onward JamesFeb 4, 2011 11:25182267

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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