They have built their civilization without outside models to learn from. It was just themselves, the life-giving river, the vast desert around, and the mysterious skies above.
For many centuries their creation towered above its surroundings as the most developed society around, with only Mesopotamia to keep it company, and rivalry. Gradually other societies caught up. But Egypt’s heritage and achievements still placed her above the rest, boosted by the fact that all these new civilizations were influenced by her culture, and willingly consumed it.
With the welcomed columns of Alexander the Great Egypt became a part of other greater worlds: The Hellenic world, the Roman world, the Christian world, and now the Arab and Islamic world. There its uniqueness had faded but never gone.
In that process however Egypt lost its independence and became the property of foreigners of all sorts, rulers, invaders, and conquerors. At the pick of that process were the Mamluks, a military sect of foreign decent that ruled Egypt as feudal overlords, with absolute power over the country and its people. In 1517 they lost their empire and the land to the Ottoman Turks, but remained the de facto masters of Egypt. No change could have come without their approval, and no change came.
|Muhammad Ali Pasha|
The third step took place this February, when the masses gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were able to oust Egypt’s 30 years long ruler Hosni Mubarak. In doing so they showed the world, and themselves, what people’s power is all about. The final step will be Egypt becoming a fully functioning democracy. Hopefully it will be the next step and an immediate one. Because, as the history of Egypt and other countries has showed us, revolutions are often followed by setbacks and backwards steps.
In Egypt’s case Muhammad Ali’s dynasty became corrupt and hedonistic, especially under its last ruler; king Farouk I. Gamal Abdel Nasser gave Egypt full independence, a developed infrastructure, vitally needed land reforms, and international prestige. But with them came tyranny and an economy that could not sustain his military ambitions. And in Tahrir square, on February the 18th 2011, merely a week after this leaderless revolution seceded in ousting president Mubarak, the radical cleric Shiekh Yousef Al Qaradhawi encouraged a crowed of around a million men, to declare war on Israel.
Egypt’s history points clearly to its direction, a government by the people, for the people. Its troubled history suggests this won’t be a smooth ride. But every major step towards that goal has to be commended and blessed. Even if skepticism will be vindicated in the nearby future, this revolution should be congratulated. Because in it the value of life was largely kept, the protesters were non-violent and the army held back its fire. And those who did resort to violence, Mubarak’s supporters, lost. Its not that skepticism should be sidelined, no, this would be unwise from a survival point of view. But we can congratulate this achievement without been euphoric. Whenever democracy wins it is a good thing and should be treated as such. Whatever bad things may come, no matter how close they might be, they are not here yet. When they do come, they will be treated accordingly. But until then Egypt should be congratulated for this achievement and for her new found liberty. And may they prove all their doubters wrong. Because to many revolutions didn’t, and not just in the Muslim world.