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Democracy in Egypt

June 24, 2012

In Egypt, democracy advances with Mohammed Morsi declared the winner of Egypt’s first competitive presidential election.  While Morsi’s Muslim credentials get lots of play, the foot of the article reluctantly notes that he is an American-educated engineer with a PhD from U-SoCal. Based on my own (very limited) observations of California life (downtown San Francisco), I’m not sure the army’s reluctance to hand their country over to a California boy is that hard to understand. As my student observed on Market Street, “I smell more weed here than at Kenyon.”

Of course a country where the army dissolves parliament is not exactly a perfect democracy; nor is one where the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson buy the presidency. But I think it’s about time for my colleague in political science to take back his remark last year that the Tahrir Square revolution was “a farce.” The Egyptian people–including the army–are working very hard at something very difficult, and doing better than most. They’ve so far avoided the bloodbath that followed the Gandhian liberation of India. And they may yet succeed in following Europe’s example, in the largely peaceful Revolutions of 1989.

The one regret of my writing career is that I didn’t send Spinel and Lystra back to Valedon at the end of A Door into Ocean. It was there in my head, but nerve failed. The Egyptions read Gene Sharp better than I did.

  1. June 24, 2012 3:15 pm

    hmmm. Now I’ll have to again reread Door into Ocean. (I book I dearly loved the first time I read it).

  2. paws4thot permalink
    June 25, 2012 6:10 am

    It’s the same in the UK, The broadcast meedja (sic; say it like it looks you should) are neeping on about “The Muslim Brotherhood” without actually bothering to say what sort of Muslims they are.

  3. SFreader permalink
    June 25, 2012 2:05 pm

    The fault lies on both sides … the media which no longer bothers with fact-checking or in-depth analysis and Morsi. Even if Morsi spent only 3 years earning his PhD in the States, he was exposed to enough Western media to know that governments need an arsenal of appropriately soothing and descriptive sound bites whenever talking about their political party.

    Just read the below Wikipedia entry on Morsi today; seems that it’s not just the Western press he’s got a problem with:
    On 30 May 2012, Morsi filed a lawsuit against Egyptian television presenter Tawfiq Okasha, accusing him of “intentional falsehoods and accusations that amount to defamation and slander” of Morsi. According to online newspaper Egypt Independent, an English-language subsidiary of Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, Okasha spent three hours on 27 May criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi on air.[9] After Okasha aired a video allegedly depicting Muslim extremists executing a Christian whilst asking “how will such people govern?”, some analysts suggested that this was in reference to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party.[10]

    • paws4thot permalink
      June 26, 2012 7:18 am

      That is exactly the point from my 06:10 above; are also Muslims, and they do things like visiting Christian churches, and inviting same to visit the Glasgow Central Mosque socially.

      I’m criticising the media for not presenting any actual facts, rather than criticising you.

  4. heteromeles permalink
    June 25, 2012 2:20 pm

    Thank you for mentioning Gene Sharp. He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize more than quite a few of the previous laureates (and yes, I’m thinking of Obama here. Shame on the Nobel committee for that one). Since his books are free for downloading at the Albert Einstein Institute, I strongly recommend that people get them, read them, and pass them on. From Dictatorship to Democracy should be on every citizen’s reading list.

    As for USC, it’s not Berkeley or San Francisco, so we’re not talking about a USC graduate being a tie-dye wearing, pot-smoking hippie. USC’s a private university, known for football, film, and medicine, among other things. It’s in a poor and fairly violent area in LA, so security is a big issue. At the same time, a number of upper middle class and wealthy kids go there. It’s the kind of place where people go either a) because they want to enter a particular field (it has the best pharmacy school in California, for example), because they want to play football (if USC isn’t on probation at the time), or because their parents don’t want them exposed to the hoi polloi, or any of the myriad activists, radicals, and fringe-types that are so common at campuses like Stanford and Cal. I’m sure Dr. Morsi went to USC for the same reason everyone goes to grad school: they had a program he liked, and he got in.

    Cal State Northridge (where Morsi taught briefly after getting his PhD at USC) is a commuter school in the San Fernando Valley. If you want a comparison in Ohio, think Kent State.

    Note that I’ve briefly visited all of these schools, or know people who work in them. President Morsi’s history is on Wikipedia.

    • June 25, 2012 4:17 pm

      What a relief (disappointment?) to know there’s a Kent State in CA. 🙂 I guess Egypt won’t be awash in weed after all, though I understand they have their own leisure pharmaceuticals.

      Will post a permalink to Sharp. As for Obama’s Nobel, I understand your feelings (he apparently agreed with you) although as someone who grew up in the lynching era I feel he deserved the prize just for getting elected. Consider the alternative:

      • heteromeles permalink
        June 25, 2012 11:17 pm

        I really should point out that I voted for Obama, and I happen to agree with the speech he gave on acceptance. I also agree with your sentiment about his victory. This is primarily a grump about the Nobel committee, and their sometimes dubious choices for their prizes. Gene Sharp seems to be a good candidate, and I hope he gets a chance. Fortunately, they didn’t give Obama the prize in economics…

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