Monday, January 22, 2007

How did we get where we are now?

This is from The Independent:

Two years ago as Middle Eastern dictatorships tottered, George Bush hailed the march of freedom around the world. But in many countries, 2006 was the year when the people lost their power.

In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak has failed to fulfil promises of democratic reform, jailing prominent opposition leader Ayman Nour and arresting 1,000 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood over the past year. The Muslim Brotherhood was banned from running under their banner in the 2005 elections, which were marred by violence, but it's supporters made big gains. The US has lifted the pressure on Mubarak to pursue multi-party democracy amid expectations that Muslim Brotherhood will win power in a free and fair vote.

It's a catch 22. Radicalism is rife due to lack of democracy and no prospect for democracy out of fear from the radicals.

How did we get where we are now?

I studied in Cairo university in the eighties and I saw fellow male students transform from being "normal" to being "radical". When young people start their university life, they take a step into unchartered territory. Their instinct and human nature tells them to enjoy their lives have fun and mix with girls (i.e. lead a normal life), but then reality hits:

Huge income gaps leads to resentment and anger among the poorer students. Corruption and nepotism generates isolation and a desire to belong to a society that cares for them and that does not discriminate against them and put them down. Lack of outlets for self expression and fostering talents drives young people to ideologies that confront and expose the "rotten" society.

Then the beard starts to grow, meetings are attended in the mosque and demonstrations are organized...

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