Imagine if a year after Hitler was voted-in to power, the German people had went to the streets to demand the removal of his increasingly authoritarian, divisive and xenophobic regime.
For some people, that is akin to what happened here this week in Egypt.
I have a friend and senior colleague who voiced her concern that the actions of the presidency and Ikhwan (against the hospital, the NGOs, religious minorities, and cultural institutions especially) were Hitleresque. “This is how Hilter and his Reiche started. Same sort of moves.”
Sounds dramatic (and it was extreme for me to hear too), but it was becoming more of a widespread belief. And after months of anti-Shia hate speech led to the lynching of four Shia and outraged the nation, and the President failed to even mention this during his nearly three-hour speech, I started to see what people were talking about.
So last night when, when General El Sisi, Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, Coptic Pope, and liberal scholar and diplomat ElBaradei all came on television together to announce the power of the people, the end of Morsi/Ikhwan rule and a collaborative road map forward…the nation burst into applause and fireworks.
Morsi and the MB were not only incompetent, they were thought to be getting dangerous by many.
And people like this sought to do something about it.
And the Artists. They created the spark. Read a great article about that here and in my last few blog posts.
As both a Democrat and a democrat, I have been deeply inspired by my Egyptian friends. The people here demanded all of what democracy and liberty are for a nation, not resting on elections and so-called legitimacy.
Reem Saad: The true essence of liberty has triumphed over the mere form of democracy
Twitter Post: If democracy reduced to unaccountable power by whomever wins an election, it sinks.
Ben Franklin: Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
Yes, the military were necessary here to carry out the will of the people and remove Morsi and all his Ikhwan appointees from power. There was no good system in place for impeachment. And the country, the sham of a constitution, the reshaping of political parties are not ready for elections that would have done much good. Replacing one figurehead for another was not the way to go. This, the action of the people to hold Morsi accountable and demand democratic leadership, this was a mighty healthy re-awakening in my opinion.
And because people lived through the disaster of military rule last year, I do not think they will stand for it this time around. Lessons have been learned. And these two rough years have indirectly brought about mass civil education.
The democratic road map announced last night is intended to guide the country into a new constitution, parliament, and presidency.
There’s also a “Not a Coup” Facebook page that is gaining momentum.
Please understand that under all the elation is an acknowledged hesitancy. Will the MB be allowed to remain a political party, as inclusion and democracy would demand? How long will pro-Ikhwan, anti-Morsi groups and police fight and kill each other in the smaller towns, Cairo University, etc? Can the military provide security during this transition without being revengeful or abusive? How can we stop all the sexual assaults? How do maintain a freedom of the press and human rights? What would happen it the U.S. pulled its support and aid?
And the biggest question of all…
Can we actually pull this off?!? It would be amazing and unprecedented.
I was supposed to go back to work today teaching dance (one day off for the revolution was all that was necessary) but I have to spend the day saying goodbye to my American Fulbright friends who are facing mandatory evacuation. Sad to say goodbye so suddenly. Their grants will be suspended for a minimum of 30 days and then most of them will return. Some are spending the month on vacation, visiting family, or even joining the demonstrations in Istanbul. My situation is different. My grant ended in January so I am officially a Fulbright Alumnus and am allowed to stay. No other country seems to having as drastic a reaction as ours. I’m guessing it is a response to Benghazi and political pressures. If anything crazy happens this summer in regards to personal safety, I will go. But leaving right now would break my heart.
Side Note: Two different Egyptian friends sent me messages telling me not to worry for my safety, that the U.S. State Department is often precocious. I know they meant pre-cautious, but it certainly made me chuckle.
For now, the Egyptian people are celebrating their well-earned Independence Day simultaneously with us Americans. We in the States might make pies and parades and thank our soldiers and dress like the Statue of Liberty; but when you witness millions of beautiful people, young and old, Muslim and Christian and secularists, artists and street cleaners, pop stars and the poor, all demanding real liberty as I have witnessed here, you see that word in a new light.
***The views and information presented in my blog are my own and do not represent the U.S. Department of State or the Fulbright Scholar Program.