I’ve been loosely following the changes in Egypt with something akin to optimism. Change is coming to that part of the world as people of all walks of life, of all faiths and beliefs, stand up against what they see as oppression and tyranny. Democracy, for all its flaws, seems to be spreading without CIA intervention or external military force being applied.
The Egyptian military, currently in charge of the country, vowed today to rule the country for six months, or until democratic elections can be held. They have pledged to uphold the treaty with Israel, which has both positives and negatives, but lets view ‘not going to war’ as an overall good thing for the moment. They have dissolved Parliament and suspended the Constitution. Those are a tad scary sounding, but may well be necessary in the short term, so that they can restore order to the country.
A few protesters are refusing to leave. A few hundred, according to the news coming out of the country, are committed to staying in Tahrir Square until those election promises are kept. I think that is commendable – they aren’t accepting the military’s word or its promises, and I can’t blame them. I also think it’s a tad foolish though. This nation will need a bit of time to arrange an election - despite what Mr. Harper thinks, you can’t put one of those together over a weekend. Unfortunately, some of these protesters have been arrested by the military, and taken into custody – their status remains somewhat unknown.
Other protesters have returned to the Square as well, with brooms and dustpans, paint and rags. The same people who tore up the sidewalks to use the concrete as ammunition against the police and military are now back there, trying to put things right. And its this part of the story that really gives me some hope. These people, Christians and Muslims, atheists and military, bankers and doctors, are still working together. They are still remembering the success they achieved (and lets face it, this is huge news for the non-democratic world) and remembering how they achieved it – by working together and setting aside their differences and enmity. Lets hope their message is still heard by the military.
The media is giving a lot of credit to things like Facebook and Twitter for helping the protesters to spread their message and get support internationally and nationally. I think it would be very interesting to see how those mediums, and the Internet as a whole, influenced the upswing in protest in the first place. I have long believed that as the education and communication of a group goes up, their willingness to be oppressed goes down. History bears this out. Illiteracy is a weapon used to keep people in line. Dogma (whether religious or political) exists for the same reason – if you are told you “must” do this, and you know nothing else, then you are far more inclined to do as you are told. But when you can see that others in your area / nation / continent are no longer standing for the same treatment, I think that empowers people to stand up for themselves and their rights.
So Egypt, keep working. The world is still watching. Your citizens are still mobilized and can repeat their actions if needed. In fact, should the military fail to live up to their demands, I believe we’d see an even larger movement in opposition – they succeeded once, they’ve a taste for democracy now. And that taste is sweet.