How to Create a Real Democracy in Egypt
Say the word "democracy" in the West, and images of a free, pluralistic, and secular society come to mind. Commenting on the turmoil in Egypt, President Obama, "The United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve"—as if the two were inseparable.
The fact is, "democracy" does not always lead to "universal rights" and or other advantages associated with this form of governance. There is nothing inherently liberal, humanitarian, or secular about democracies, as we have seen from the democratic election of Hitler in Germany; the Palestinians' election of a terrorist government, Hamas, in Gaza in 2006; the election of the ayatollahs in Iran after the Shah was toppled in 1979; the near-election of the Islamists in Algeria in 1991, or even the democratic acceptance of slavery and the disenfranchisement of women in both ancient Athens and the first years of America. "People-power"—literally, demos-kratia— was what America's founder saw as also capable of becoming mob rule, and the reason they insisted on an electoral college.
Now that the people have gotten what they want in Egypt —the overthrow of Mubarak— will "people-power" automatically lead to a more liberal, secular, and pluralistic society?
Although many Egyptians – both Christians and Muslims -- would welcome a freer society, the majority of Egyptians were protesting not to see Islamic Sharia Law implemented -- despite Al-Jazeera's and the Iranian media's propaganda -- but for food and jobs.
That said, the Muslim Brotherhood's outspoken goal is to implement strict Sharia Law wherever it can; and if it is helped to power, Egypt will become considerably more fascistic and possibly even less free than it was under a dictatorship. This does not necessarily mean that Egyptians are Islamists; just that their choices were limited deliberately. As Mubarak suppressed and jailed anyone who promoted a real democracy, to show the West that the choice was between him and Islamists, he allowed the Islamists to function – even though they were officially outlawed -- to be able to show them to visitors from the West to justify his position. He thereby brought into being the choice he talked about: whoever did not like his regime had nowhere to go except the Islamists.
As in Western democracies, people can vote based on their immediate needs, emotions, misinformation, or even just propaganda—and, happily or unhappily, get more than they bargained for. In Gaza, for example, free social services – such as dental clinics and day-care centers -- that Arafat's government should have been providing but did not -- were what Hamas used to lure people to its side and incline them towards its theological agenda. This strategy of endearing the Palestinians to it by providing for their needs, Hamas learned directly from its parent organization: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
Western democracies have built-in safeguards such as a constitution, rule of law, and a judiciary. But what sort of society does one create if all of these – the constitution, the law and the judiciary -- are built on Islamist principles of Islamic Sharia ["The Way"] Law, agreed to by the majority? One creates a society in which women are legally subjugated and with unequal rights; adulterers are legally stoned to death; and homosexuals and apostates legally hanged. The Brotherhood's slogan states that "the Koran is our Constitution;" as we have seen, Iran has a "constitutional government"—but entirely based on Sharia Law
It would benefit Egypt as well as the region if America stopped praising democracy—a means—and started supporting freedom and universal rights—the desired end.
"Elections" are not the same thing as a "democracy;" the words are not synonymous. To avoid having a repressive government freely elected, it is first necessary, as outlined in The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky, to first introduce and firmly establish institutions of democracy – such as a free press; free speech; freedom for religion and freedom from religion; equal justice under law, including of property rights; laws based on individuals' rights; an independent judiciary; separation of mosque and state, and so forth. Elections can then be held at the end -- after these building blocks for a free civil society – and real choices for the people -- are able to function without religious or political interference. Rather than support any one mode of governance now, the U.S. could work with whoever will put in place and continue to build these institutions of a free society associated with democracy.
Such an approach would even have the added bonus of fending off the charge — emanating everywhere from academia to the Arab street — that America is hypocritical for befriending and supporting dictators even as it constantly praises democracy.
As with all forms of governance, democracy is only a means to an end; whether that end is good (freedom) or bad (tyranny) should be the ultimate measure of its worth.
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by Burak Bekdil
So in the EU-candidate Turkey, a pianist should be punished for his re-tweets, but a pop-singer should be congratulated for her first-class racist hate-speech. This is contagious.
No reporter present at Mr. Ihsanoglu's campaign launch speech thought about asking him if his commitment to the "Palestinian cause" included any affirmation of the Hamas Charter, in particular a section that says, "…The stones and trees will say, 'O Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
Turkey is also the country where a few years earlier, a group of school teachers (yes, school teachers!) gathered in a demonstration to commemorate Hitler.
by Debalina Ghoshal
Despite Chapter VII of the UN Charter and UNSC Resolutions, it seems that North Korea will continue developing its missiles -- and eventually weaponize them with nuclear warheads.
"North Korea's ballistic and nuclear threat is very much a near-term threat. ... Steady progression in their program is not harmless." — Victor Cha, Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
On March 26, 2014, North Korea reportedly test-fired medium-range ballistic Rodong missiles -- capable of reaching Japan and U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific region.
Since February, South Korean officials claim that North Korea has confirmed at least 90 test-firings, among which ten were ballistic missiles.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
It is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas's or Islamic Jihad's overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
Many foreign journalists who came to cover the war in the Gaza trip were under the false impression that it was all about improving living conditions for the Palestinians by opening border crossings and building an airport and seaport. These journalists really believed that once the demands of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are accepted, this would pave the way for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
To understand the true intention of Hamas and its allies, it is sufficient to follow the statements made by their leaders after the cease-fire announcement this week. To his credit, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader, has never concealed Hamas's desire to destroy Israel.
Hamas and its allies see the war in the Gaza Strip as part of there strategy to destroy Israel. What Hamas and its allies are actually saying is, "Give us open borders and an airport and seaport so we can use them to prepare for the next war against Israel."
by Burak Bekdil
A front-page headline was particularly revealing: They (Israel) bombed a mosque in Gaza! Including the exclamation mark!
A quick internet search, if you typed "mosque bombing Shiite-Sunni," would give you 782,000 results on July 16.
Why did we not hear one single Turkish voice protest the death of 300,000 Muslims in Darfur?
Hamas's Charter is must-read fun.
by Bassam Tawil
What is sad is that the Gazans have not yet been able to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas.
The world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel that threatens the Arab and Muslim world and the major cities of Europe.
The Western world also seems not to understand that it has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding terrorism, such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey, for whom the Palestinian problem is only a pretext on the way to destroying the Western world as we know it and replacing it with only Islam.