It seems that the people of Egypt finally have had their say. Hosni Mubarak has relinquished power and stepped down as head of the state of Egypt. The army is now in control of the day-to-day workings of the state and opposition coalitions are coming together in trying to bring some semblance of transition to the joyful chaos on the streets.
I applaud the people of Egypt for what they have done. I also, strangely, must applaud the commanders of the Egyptian armed forces who applied pressure to both the people and top leadership group in effecting this wondrous change. The army stood loyal to the principles of protection and safety, when they could have easily turned the displays in Tahrir Square into a bloodbath.
It must be noted that the army, since before the time of Mubarak, has had a hand in keeping the fabric of Egypt together and does play a strong roll in how the country is governed. This does not seem likely to change in the short-term. But the fact remains that when the people stood against the 30 plus years of Mubarak rule the army refused to strike against them in any significant way.
So what lies ahead for the new Egypt, after the dancing in the streets and the hangovers have passed? Much work and reconciliation await, bringing the factions who opposed the Mubarak government into a working whole. The people have stated they want a democratic system and a fair say in how the country is run. I think that for a fair few of them this will be a shock.
The wheels of democracy demand constant input from the citizens, not just rallies in the streets. Now don’t believe for a moment that I am saying the Egyptian people are not up to this task. I believe wholeheartedly that they are. But like freeing a genie from a magic lamp, it appears they are going to get exactly what they asked for.
To a people who have been used to a strict ruling caste this culture shock may take some getting used to. But the people of Egypt have a long and noble history to draw strength from; they are an educated people, with a wealth of skills at the country’s disposal.
Some are worried about this temporary power vacuum will allow a militant Islamist state to form much like Iran. I do not believe this to be the case. As I stated, Egyptians are highly secular and generally well-educated. For them to shed the skin of one ruler only to pull on the religious robes of another seems highly unlikely to me.
That does not mean however that they will not form some type of government based on Islāmic tradition. The governments of the west, as much as we like to deny it, are formed largely around Judeo-Christian traditions. The Ten Commandments, for example, do indeed play a role in our legal and governmental workings. It would be folly to expect that the Egyptian people would not follow a similar template based on Islāmic faith.
As factions rush forward to be counted and pen is put to paper in the design of this new union the people, however hopeful, must stay vigilant. That the will of the people does not become trumped by the will of the state. I for one have faith in the judgment of the Egyptian people. May God help any who dare stand against them.
In closing I would like to offer up a few quotes on the nature of liberty and freedom. When you think of Egypt today think of these.
“Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of making the right choice.” – Source unknown.
“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” – Albert Camus
“Freedom is never given, it’s won!” – A. Philip Randolph