What is happening in Egypt is sad and tragic. It has been said that the Egyptians have sacrificed so much and yet gained so little. They overthrew President Hosni Mubarak , the long-serving liberal dictator in the name of democracy only to be ruled by an authoritarian religious leader, Morsi who is bent on making Egypt more islamic and Egyptians more islamist.
Within one year of the election of Morsi through a democratic process, millions of protesters came out to demand for his ouster which the military duly executed possibly on what it sees as the erosion of liberal rights taken for granted by the people during Mubarak’s rule.
In fact the secular nature of governance under Mubarak had ensured Coptic Christians living in relative harmony with their fellow Egyptians as they have been doing so well before the coming of Islam. This situation, however, changed almost overnight with tension rising between the Christians and Muslim during Muslim Brotherhood party’s rule despite Morsi’s assurances. Burning of churches and fightings with deaths and injuries persisted.
And the world is watching.
Political islam (or of any religion for that matter) is divisive. It cannot reconcile with the needs and rights of the minorities. The minorities consist of people of other faiths,women and liberal Muslims. Indeed some Egyptians even wished for a return of Mubarak’s days with its warts and all.
I think both religious authoritarianism and liberal dictatorship are bad and repressive. Granted that democracy is the way to go, its failure in Egypt has demonstrated that it is not the answer. It is the leaders who could make the difference by not bowing to unreasonable demand of religious sections of the electorate, though this is easier said than done as they would be voted out the following election for failing to fulfil the majority’s demand.
On reflection, socio-economic woes are easier handled than religion-related issues. Mubarak should have learnt the lessons from China and allowed elements of democratic process to be institutionalised. Dictatorship has a shelf life and inconsonant with the modern world. It was the accepted ideology with military strongmen, Gamel Nasser and Sadat when Egypt was in turmoil but Mubarak in peaceful times, should have made changes to modernise the country socio-politically.
As it is now, what would happen if a new election is held and Morsi won again? After all Muslim Brotherhood which Morsi represents have already established a broad base of supporters especially among rural Egyptians. It’s certainly an unhappiest moment for minorities.
I hope we in Malaysia can learn from the Egyptian lesson to avoid such instability which further drags the country downwards economically.
People can only extricate themselves from the clutches of religious extremism through secular education. But I am afraid in Malaysia the trend is not encouraging. We have started on a good footing education-wise but currently we seem to have dismantled the system, injecting more religious philosophy rather than science and going headlong backwards.
We the people, should vote in leaders who have the interests of all regardless of creed, at heart, and not those who are out to change our way of life and force their values on us. Their rule will spiral our country into sectarian chaos just like in the former Land of the Pharaohs where religion and politics intermingle following recent developments.