In January of last year, over 50,000 protesters filled Tahrir Square in Egypt to protest the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They were demanding freedom and democracy. Unfortunately, it does not appear that that is what they got.
The U. K. Telegraph reported yesterday on what has happened in Egypt since the original protest.
The article reports:
The two presidential candidates who, as counting nears completion, seem to have got through to a second round of voting are the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood‘s front party, the FJP, and a former Air Force general who was prime minister when the “last dictator” Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down.
It really doesn’t seem like much of a choice, but the author of the article has a slightly different view. He states that this is democracy in action–the candidates got the votes and are therefore the choice of the people.
The article points out how the two candidates won:
The three losers appealed to people who like to argue about politics and ideas, and have “messages”. But they were essentially dilettantes. The Brotherhood and the ex-regime spoke directly to the concerns of ordinary Egyptians, and said what it could do for them.
The Brothers frighten the West with their Islamism. But their campaign talked about education for the poor, and defending traditional values. They came out strongly in favour of free market economics, and while it would be wrong to say Hayek won the election, in most of provincial Egypt, the imam, the teacher, the engineer and the local shop-keeper make more sense than semi-Marxist rhetoric coming out of Cairo; think of Britain and France in the 1950s, captivated by Angry Young Men and Sartre respectively, but voting Tory and Gaullist, and you get the idea.
Shafiq had one message: Mubarak was Mubarak, but security is security; two years ago you could walk the streets safely, and now you can’t. For communities traumatised by crime, that speaks loud.
This is a lesson that should be learned by American politicians–if you want to win, have a plan!
I don’t see any hope for a democracy in Egypt. If the Muslim Brotherhood wins this election, they will institute Sharia Law and that will be the end of freedom. I hope that I am wrong, but the lessons of history are, unfortunately, on my side.