Saturday, 5 February 2011

Walk like an Egyptian ?

I've made some blog entries this week, and not mentioned, not even once all the stuff that's happening in Egypt. Should I ?

Well I guess there's no serious obligation on my part, but it's a very momentous pimple on the teenage like spotty face of history.

Egyptian uprising... (photo from CNN's website)
The peoples of Egypt have collectively had enough of the corruption or accountability in a regime that has been led by the same man for the last 30 years (President Hosni Mubarak).

The western press are showing us all the images of what was seemingly at one point a 'velvet' revolution, but that has steadily escalated as the regime enlists fists of those faithful to it. Thankfully the army have quite sensibly stayed out of it. The generals seem to back Mubarak, but the actual soldiers on the street are not motivated to start firing on their countrymen and women. No images of students being shot in front of a tank on international television then.

The people want freedom, self determination. They seem to want that holy grail of things, democracy. Good for them. As governments around the world try increasingly to tread a fine line between not supporting anybody and condoning any actions against the people of Egypt. Warm cooing words of encouragement that violence not be used against the citizens, that peaceful protest continue, and be allowed to do so.

The Egyptian government had initially cut off the mobile phone network, and the internet. Although they have now turned the internet back on, it is a reminder that any and all of our freedoms can be taken away just as easily. Maybe not as symbolically as the flicking of a switch, but the government here has similar powers. So before you all rush out and buy CB radios, lets calm things back down a bit.

What I was increasingly annoyed about was the mumbling sentiments of those on BBC Questiontime passing comment on what the Egyptian people should or shouldn't do, and on what sort of government is likely to replace Mubarak's. It's all balloon filling really. Surely (as was said by one of the guests) the destiny of the political system in Egypt is in the hands of the Egyptian people, where it should be. It is not for us to say which type of democracy we would like to have. It carries as much impact on the outcome as does a child wistfully wishing for a £600 new computer at Christmas. (Take note Chloe).

So what happens if democracy flourishes in Egypt, and the people vote, and they chose, and we don't like what they chose ? What if they vote, for example to become a Muslim fundamentalist state ? These are the questions that are being thrown about by the BBC and others.

Opinions are like noses, they all smell.

A fundamentalist state may not be the 'preferred' choice of the western governments, but you know what, it isn't their (our) choice to make. I'm pretty convinced that the people of Egypt weren't sat round their television sets last may pontificating about the likelihood of a coalition government being formed in the UK, and what that would mean for them.

I'm not an isolationist, I do think we should be out there and engaging with the other countries of the world, but this presumption that we have a part to play in the political history of other countries is at best misguided interference. At worst, arrogant meddling.

After all, didn't the Egyptians have a working society a good deal before the formation of the 'mother of parliaments' ?

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