The people of Egypt – or a great many of them – rose up more than ten days ago against their long-standing leader Hosni Mubarak. They did this in a grand collective demonstration of anger and disgust, and even hate, demanding his immediate resignation and retreat. They called for a just, non-autocratic, and democratic government. The huge crowds at the Tahir Square speaking out openly against their government was quite unusual in that country and others like it at the mercy of dictators. It was an unhappy spectacle to watch on TV. Yet, I was happy that the people were voicing their frustrations fearlessly. But I fear that many may have to pay a price for it.
Someone asked me what I thought the U.S. should do in this context. I have no idea. From my simplistic perspective I feel that the U.S. and other nations of the world should (perhaps can) do nothing in this matter. It is entirely for the people of Egypt to act the way they need to in order to achieve what they regard as their best goal. There seem to be quite a few Egyptians who are not all that virulently opposed to HM. In fact, many of them, riding high on horses and camels, vaunted their presence in the now famous square, showing their support of the current ruler of Egypt. I don’t know if these were spontaneous or not.
I firmly believe that regime-change should be an internal matter in any country. Others can wish the people well, but no nation has the right to dictate on another’s leadership selection. There may be fears that unfriendly forces may come to power there. But that is the price one pays for democracy. Democracy is not always great when the incompetent, the extremist, and the dangerous win by popular vote, or when people not to our liking come to power. If we want only one type of rulers to head governments, we must stop rooting for democracy. The major merit of democracy lies, not in who gets elected, but in that it requires periodic change at the helm of a country’s affairs. When a single individual and his/her coterie can carry on indefinitely, corruption and tyranny are inevitable. Blessed are the nations where leaders can be changed peacefully and periodically with the approval of the majority of their citizens.
All I can say in the current context of Egypt is that I hope and wish for that ancient people the establishment of a democratic and just form of government at the end of the ordeal that they are currently undergoing, a government that will be fair and tolerant of all its citizens, irrespective of race or religion.
February 7, 2011