In our enthusiasm for the Arab Spring and its promise of democracy, we now watch elections and parliaments in Egypt and Tunisia with some concern. How did we get so much wrong?
First, we never talked about “liberal” democracy, the system used in the West that provides checks and balances and protects against abuse of power. We just talked about elections, and they have indeed had those.
All Egyptian players have a stake in the outcome. The military establishment that has long sustained the Egyptian dictatorship changed cloaks during the street revolution and proclaimed themselves on the side of the revolutionaries. They profess their support of elections but also show how needed they are in providing law and order. They also play a role behind the scenes in helping to finance the Islamist parties in the elections so that the secular Egyptians would realize that the military are still needed.
The young secularists who shed blood in the streets had a stake in a secular democracy, and the world press noted that the Muslim Brotherhood played no role in the revolution. It was assumed that the secular modern Egyptians would prevail in parliamentary elections. What observers ignored was that secular educated Egyptians are a small minority in the country. The vast majority is ill-educated, dependent upon government aid, and ready to support Islamo-fascist parties. Egyptians who “circumcise” their daughters have far more votes than Egyptians who hang out at internet cafes. (See David Goldman, How Civilizations Die.)
In the first round of elections, the two Islamist parties garnered the most seats in Parliament. Once more, observers hasten to tell us that the Muslim Brotherhood has changed and is willing to work within a democracy. This notion is wishful thinking, neither based on the past of Islamism nor on their long policy of employing any deception necessary to prevail. Also ignored are decades of on-line pronouncements about their scorn for democracy as a “western or Zionist plot.”
The only well-known candidate for Egypt’s presidency has been Mohamed ElBaradei, formerly director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He is much better known in elite UN circles than in Egypt itself. He withdrew from the elections on January 14, claiming the elections were rigged. He announced that his conscience would not permit him to run the presidency because the system was corrupt.
According to analyst Daniel Pipes, the Free Egyptian Party announced that it had filed more than 500 complaints about Lower House elections, but no legal action was taken by electoral authorities. This same party (a classic liberal political party) has also pulled out of the upcoming Upper House elections, citing once more violations that are not punished.
As this predictable scene plays out, we may once more have an election that will provide one man, one vote, one time—or a pseudo democracy intended to fool us all (propped up by the military). And why should we be surprised? Egypt has been around for a very long time, and its last effective governments were those of antiquity, 2,000 years ago. Why should that change now?
Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring began, is even sadder. This was a strictly secular country under a rapacious dictatorship for a half century. Their elections held the promise that since they had been secular and modern for so long, Islamism would have no appeal. Well, not so. Even here, the Islamist parties (one bad, the other worse) have dominated the parliament. Who would have guessed? Only those of us aware of how Islamo-fascism works, carefully, and off the radar, could see the results.
The Arab Spring is not going to provide the modernization of economics and politics that the region so desperately needs to thrive. The big losers are women, whose hard-won gains will be thrown under the bus. The other losers are the educated young technocrats and the ethnic minority (Christians) who will not see the country that they risked everything to bring to light. Revolutions are often followed by Dark Ages. This one may be no different.
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of How Do You Know That? You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.