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July 9th, 2013
The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Killing of Islamists Deepens Crisis in Egypt,” shows how hard it is to instill democracy in a land with no deep democratic traditions. The idea that people can peacefully protest government actions is in many ways unique to the United States, where we even let Nazis demonstrate in Jewish neighborhoods.
The Egyptian revolution got hijacked yesterday when the army and police went on a rampage against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, whom they recently deposed from power. While liberal elements called for an independent investigation of the massacre, they seemed nowhere as concerned for their Islamic fellow citizens as when the forces of Hosni Mubarak carried out similar actions.
Democracy is based on the formulation of consensus, in bringing everyone into the political process in a pluralistic manner. It is hard to see how Islamists can now join the effort to build a new Egypt after their friends who engaged in a non-violent sit-in were ruthlessly slaughtered.
The Egyptian revolution, and the Arab Spring, are now literally hanging on a thread. How the Egyptian people react to yesterday’s events may well determine how long their democracy continues. Currently, Al Nour, the only participating Islamic group remaining, decided to suspend its participation in the interim government. Getting them back into the process is critical to the success of democracy in Egypt.
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