Friday, August 16, 2013

Islamist Extremists: Hindering Egypt's Arab Spring


ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com on yahoo
Frankly, I don't see what options the Egyptian military and interim government have in dealing with Islamist extremists who prefer violence to peace, chaos to order. Return Morsi to power or else?  I don't think so.  If there's no room for compromise on Egyptian streets, no room for civic discourse, how can a new democratic government emerge?

If these were legitimate peaceful protests, why aren't they focused on the real issues facing the country as a whole? The urgent need for jobs, economic opportunity, strengthening the middle class, improving infrastructure?  Why not join together around a common agenda that addresses the real needs of the people, with the common good in mind, not returning Morsi to power for heaven's sake. 

Sen. Paul Rand, other Republicans, and so-called "democratic" critics say stop all US aid, the $1.6 billion.  But I think this shows a shallow understanding of the geopolitical situation.  A knee-jerk reaction, oversimplified and mostly without substance.   It would probably be a disaster, to Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and US interests.

Many scholars, experts. and ordinary Egyptians on the ground, as well as former Egyptian government officials, like the ambassador to the US, and most media spokespeople, have made three important points for our consideration:
1st, the removal of Morsi, who tried forcing Islamist extremism on the majority, was not a coup. It
was a continuation of the Arab Spring and its hopes for a transition to democracy. Morsi and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood demonstrated no adherence to democratic principles and values; just the opposite.  Why don't people see this? They were elected, okay, by a tiny majority, with high hopes, and then proved to be stumbling blocks to democracy, imposing Islamist rule on a majority who did not want it. The military stepped in on behalf of the people.

2nd, the conflict is not about religion.  The majority of Egyptians are practicing Muslims. But they  not extremists.  Egyptians are by nature moderate and tolerant.  They do not burn Christian churches; they are not anti-Coptic; they are not against everyone who disagrees with them. Only after the Morsi regime forced an Islamist constitution and moved toward extreme intolerance did the people come to favor removing what by then had become a roadblock to democracy. Not a path to democracy; a roadblock.  The majority of Egyptians do not like violence, but they understand why the military is trying to contain the protests calling for the return of Morsi to power.  Restoring the Morsi regime? That's not going to happen. Find a common economic and social agenda, and the violence will stop.

3rd) the extreme Islamists do not want democratic reform; they want tyrannical rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, who had the chance to demonstrate their allegiance to democracy, and blew it.  The Generals know it. The interim government is not, in this view, viciously trying to silence critics; they are at the end of the line with the provocation, lack of compromise, the rabid intolerance, the total lack of respect for the wants and needs of the vast majority, the millions who demonstrated, peacefully, against Morsi's anti-democratic government.

Egyptians know that the truth will, in time, prevail. 
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