Egyptians have not won the battle yet

It took the people of Egypt 18 days to unseat their former leader, autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, but it will take many more before the protestors get what they want: a true democracy.

The Egyptian revolution has just begun and many questions remain unanswered.

Led by no one in particular, organized through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and empowered by a fearless and determined spirit of hope, Egyptian protestors remarkably overcame 30 years of oppression and tyranny last week.

The 80 million people of the most populous country in the Arab world are writing a new chapter in Egypt’s history.

The proponents of Egypt’s “Revolution 2.0” must continue their inspired acts of civil disobedience.

The Egyptian Army has assumed power, but many issues, such as the unjust emergency law, the presence of corruption, the opposition’s lack of leadership and, in regards to the United States, the future civilian government’s stance on Egypt’s geopolitical role, still exist.

Unfortunately, unseating a deeply corrupt and despotic ruler is not enough for the opposition to claim victory when so many elements of the former system are still in place.

Though Egypt’s Supreme Military Council has already dissolved parliament, suspended the constitution and called for elections in six months, it has not clarified the current status of Egypt’s infamous emergency law, which allowed Mubarak’s regime to imprison anyone it liked without charge or legal trial.

The Egyptian Army should quickly put an end to the emergency law and make plans to empower its judicial system to act as a legitimate check and balance power over the future executive and legislative bodies.

Corruption serves to upset and deteriorate a government’s ability to perform its role as servant to the public, entrusted to develop and strengthen its country in a proper and just manner.

“The apparatus of repression and corruption in Egypt is much bigger and much deeper [than just Mubarak], and to root it out and have a hope for a more participatory democratic society is a huge, huge task,” said Laurie Brand, a professor of international relations at USC.

For this reason, Egyptians should be wary of the Egyptian Army, which controls a significant part of Egypt’s business sector and economy and was likely involved in corrupt practices under Mubarak’s regime.

The protestors who marched on Tahrir Square for 18 days will make progress in establishing democratic values and practices in Egypt, insofar as they are able first to organize themselves and find legitimate leaders within their youthful ranks.

In support of this goal, the U.S. State Department announced that it was preparing new aid packages to opposition groups in Egypt.

The groups that would receive the undisclosed amounts remain unclear, however, because the citizens who the United States would like to support unorganized.

The civilian leaders who will emerge from the fray and assume roles in Egypt’s new government will need to show as much sophistication and vigor in providing stability to the Middle East as they did in demonstrating in the streets of Cairo.

None of these challenges should detract from what the Egyptian people have just accomplished. As Americans, we should enthusiastically support those who seek to remove the shackles of repression in search of self-determination. And as students, we should recognize that the United States should not always dictate the affairs of foreign countries.

Still, the civilian leadership that assumes power in six months will need to overcome significant challenges before Egypt becomes truly democratic.

For more stories on the crisis in Egypt, click here.

William Fay is a senior majoring in international relations. His column, “Facing Our Global Challenges,” runs every other Thursday.

5 replies
  1. Ras
    Ras says:

    The article states the US should not try to dictate the affairs of foreign countries — and I agree, i do not care for our country to be too overly invested in a group of people that still believe they have to kneel 5 times a day to an imaginary god that preaches misogyny and homophobia. However, whenever I hear students being critical of the US, I am amused at how many other countries really try and be like the US or at least benefit from a culture like the US. Just look at Mexico – often times I hear Mexicans say hateful things about the Yankees yet it is their countrymen who kill themselves to flee their 3rd world conditions to come live here. Similarly, the people of Egypt can only really start welcoming the modern world and its benefits if they learn to shed the medieval hatred generations of fundamental religious doctrine branded into their psyche. It is too easy for anyone to call a person a racist if they are critical of Islam. In fact it is funny when people make an extra effort to say Islam is a religion of peace and any other opinion automatically casts someone as a racist. We have developed a repression condition in our politically correct society where total honest conversation is discouraged and everything is cloaked is a very dishonest blanket of political correctness. Is Ayaan Hirsi Ali a racist when she describes her own experiences as a woman living in a society engulfed in this religion of peace? The men of Egypt who brutalized and sexually assaulted Lara Logan while yell “Jew, Jew” as if that was a pejorative — these are the men who presumably were the champions of their new democracy. I hate to admit it but Democracy is not for all people. Along with democracy comes responsibility and responsibility demands intelligence and rational behavior. There are Americans that I see everyday and I shudder to think they are free to roam around in society…At this moment in history, Islamic cultures are challenged with reconciling the rational demands of the modern world with their 7th Cent beliefs. This is a struggle they will continue to have if they allow religious ideology inform how they wish to construct their society. It just does not work and any liberal student who claims it does also knows deep down inside they would never want to live in such a society themselves anyway. The hypocrisy is humorous and sickening. If Commanders in the US Navy prayed to Neptune everyday and made command decisions based on what they interpreted would please Neptune, we would feel uncomfortable and we definitely would not want to develop military or political policy on such basis. Yet when established religion, at least the ones still in vogue today (as opposed to the legions of passe Gods of the past) we are forbidden to make rational, critical opinions because automatically some naive, liberal, sheltered SoCal denizen will be quick to say you are a racist. I really believe if the number of liberals we have today existed in the 1940’s, they would be saying – well Nazism should not be judged – it is just another way of thinking and believing. Our judgement has become destroyed with cultural relativism – to the point of absurdity. Good luck Egypt – you got what you wished for – the world will be watching what you do with your Democracy – Like a new college student living on his own outside the curfewed boundaries of his parents watch. Let’s see if this is too much freedom too fast for you guys.

  2. Man of Reason
    Man of Reason says:

    Arafat, I think it’s beyond clear that you’re a bigot. I’ve read few comments in my life that reek of such ignorance and hatred.

    • Arafat
      Arafat says:

      Man of reason,

      Here is a man of reason who sees Islam no differently than I do.

      I’m used to people like you attacking me while refusing to debate the issue at hand. All that tells me is you either cannot successfully debate the issues, or that you are a bigot whose comments reek of ignorance and hatred.

  3. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    The only way for the people of the Middle East (all of Islam for that matter) to experience true democracy is to free themselves from the shackles of Islam.
    Islam and democracy are incompatible and anyone who says Indonesia is an example they are simply showing just how dire Islamic democracies are.
    Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kirgizstan, etc…
    Name one country from this or any list of Islamic dominated countries where one can freely criticize Islam, convert from Islam, proselytize for any other religion, draw pictures of Mohammed, criticize Saudi Arabia, openly practice homosexuality or Judaism, be a free woman with all this implies.
    So please don’t blame Egypt’s problems on America. I would bet money that if America could foster true democracy in any Muslim country it would, just as it fostered freedoms and democracy in Germany and Japan after WWII.
    Quit blaming their problems on anyone but them and their backwards-looking religion.
    Finally, let me say, Mohammed was Islam’s first political leader. He refused to acknowledge a separation of mosque and state as Jesus did (Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…). Mohammed was a theocratic despot who killed, raped, enslaved and pillaged his way to power and wealth.
    This is who Muslims look to for direction, no? Not to America, but to Mohammed and therein lies the tale of the tape.

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