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Egypt proves Western Democracy doesn’t work in Arab World
By Ray Hanania
Egyptians didn’t need to become the latest people on this planet to discover that Western Democracy doesn’t always work in the Middle East.
The truth is that the Arabs are not ready for Democracy. They have been subjugated for hundreds of years by foreign occupiers, oppressors and tyrants put into power by the West.
Why would an Arab believe that a system created by the same West would thereby give them any more freedom than they had under the foot of Western military domination?
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Some argue that this is a racist view, that most Arabs have a “short fuse” and easily become provoked when angry. We’re too emotional. We sometimes act out of passion rather than logical thinking. We reject compromise and demand “all or nothing.”
These cultural habits are not inherent to Arab culture but they do result from years of oppression under the foot of dictators and tyrants.
Arabs have never been free. So how can we expect them to act in a Democratic manner when freedom comes pounding on their door.
The cry of the “Arab Spring” was freedom, but freedom doesn’t necessarily mean Arab Democracy. Freedom can mean something in-between Democracy and Tyranny. And that’s what is happening in Egypt, a country that went from tyranny under General Husny Mubarak to Democracy under its first freely elected president Mohammed Morsi.
But the military and several million Egyptians were not happy with the results of Democracy. The same people who voted or supported other candidates rallied in another round of street protests to demand that the man who was freely elected by a majority of Egyptian voters, Morsi, be thrown out of office.
Protests are common in Democracies, but in true Democracies, change does not come at the end of a rifle as it did in Egypt when the Egyptian Military, which is funded almost entirely by $1.5 billion in United State’s Foreign Aid, stepped in and trampled Democracy by arresting Morsi.
The protesters, who only two years before were demanding an end to Mubarak’s military junta, were now cheering the military coup, which toppled the Democratically elected government.
Morsi was easy for the Western nations to hate. He is from the Muslim Brotherhood, a more conservative political Muslim group. Egypt traditionally has been the most secular of the Arab countries and even under the dictators, the Brotherhood or the Ikhwan in Arabic, were banned from political participation of any kind.
The Arab Spring changed that. Mubarak and his henchmen were jailed. The Ikhwan was permitted like all individuals and groups in the “New Egypt” of the Arab Spring to organize and as long as everyone engaged in non-violent peaceful expressions of opinion, freedom seemed eminent.
But with the backing of the United States and Israel – which prefers Arab dictators to Arab Democracy to protect their one-sided peace accords and their stranglehold of Palestinian freedom – Egypt’s military stepped in. They used the anger of the Egyptians who had never experienced Democracy before as the pretext to step in.
They appointed their own hacks, people who were never elected to anything, as the new president and the new prime minister. And the Egyptian military began shooting and murdering any protesters who stood up to their dictates.
In one instance last week, the military murdered more than 50 members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were protesting peacefully outside of where Morsi, their Democratically elected president was being held against his will and in violation of the country’s first Democratic Constitution.
Democracy never promised to be perfect. Surely, the Egyptian people might expect that their first freely elected president might not be the best person for the job. It takes many years to understand and learn the fundamentals of Democracy.
But Morsi never had a chance to become a good president. From the first day, his opponents violated the first premise of Democratic elections by protesting against him and opposing his government.
These extremist activists love activism more than they love freedom. It’s a trait that plagues the Palestinians. Palestinian activists would rather be in an endless war with Israel than have freedom because the conflict feeds their existence. Without conflict, these fanatics have no reason for existence. They would be out of jobs.
The Egyptian activists were just that, out of jobs once the first election ended and Morsi became president. And they didn’t like it.
The most important lesson the Arab Spring failed to teach the Arab people about Democracy is that the Democracy is not about an end result. It is a process. In three years, Morsi would have had to run for re-election. That is the process by which Egyptians could have rejected Morsi the Democratic way and replace him with someone else.
But I think the protesters knew they do not have the majority votes. The only way to get the majority vote is to take to the streets, throw out Democracy and install their own picks for leaders, as they did.
The failure of Democracy in Egypt has emboldened tyrants like Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad whose military has murdered more than 100,000 Syrian civilians. Maybe Egypt’s “Democracy” will do the same over the next few years as Morsi supporters rightfully stand up for their rights that have been taken from them by the military.
It has reinforced existing systems of quasi-Democracy like in Jordan and the Gulf States where Monarchies hold absolute power but permit limited freedoms through parliamentary systems and elections.
In truth, even in America, which claims to be the Gold Standard for Democracy, American Democracy is also not really free. The system is rigged to prevent outsiders and minorities from claiming power. Minority groups are excluded from power by the “tyranny of the majority.”
Arabs in America are persecuted and their rights are routinely denied, and war crimes committed by Israel, an American ally, and in violation of the international Rule of Law, are rewarded by the American system of Democracy.
Democracy for the Arab World? Don’t even waste your time.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com and follow him on Twitter at @RayHanania.)
- Ray Hanania Video Commentary: Morsy and the struggle for Democracy in Egypt (rayhanania.com)
- The Democracy Abortion that Is Now Egypt (rayhanania.com)
- Was the Egyptian Ouster of Morsi a Military “coup d’état?” (danmillerinpanama.wordpress.com)
- ‘Arab cash, US killing Egypt democracy’ (rinf.com)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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