Egypt: Democracy or Theocracy?

 

Assad El-Epty

 

As the first ‘free’ elections in Egypt rapidly approach, the struggle for domination and supremacy has dramatically intensified. The National Association for Change (NAC) released a statement on Friday condemning the proposal made by the Muslim Brotherhood to hold presidential elections before a new constitution is drafted, asserting ‘it shows the Brotherhood are working for their “narrow interests” alone.’

In addition the Brotherhood’s Political Party “freedom and Justice” announced yesterday they will revert to their decade old slogan “Islam is the Solution” resulting in widespread condemnation.

Egypt’s liberal party Wafd recognised the danger signs and have broken off their electoral alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood.

At the same time prominent Salafi leaders launched coordinated attacks on those calling for democracy, demanding ‘islamic

Shariah law in Egypt in place of the man-made laws currently governing the country.’

The Salafi-led Asala Party lambasted those calling for democracy and opposing the application of Islamic Shariah as "adulterers, thieves and immoral people."

 

Sheikh Shehab al-Din Ahmed called on the Egyptian people to vote only for parties and candidate that seek to apply Shariah. These radical elements are now using “religion” as a tool to promote their authority and calls for a theocracy ruled by Islamic shariah laws saying “Allah would punish them on the Day of Resurrection if they did not.”

Liberal parties did not escape specific mention, they were labelled as “agents of anti-Egyptian conspiracy to keep people away from religion.”

 

In a what can only be described as a bizarre statement he continued by saying "The application of the French law in Egypt spread evils and corrupted the country morally, politically and economically, so there’s no other substitute for applying the Shariah." {We are unaware of any calls for 'french laws' or what promted the comment}

 

The attacks did not stop there, Mamdouh Ismail, Vice President of Asala Party said: “The enemies of Islamists in Egypt and abroad are preparing for a war to exclude us from political life so that we don’t apply Shariah.”

Prominent Salafi preacher Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud spoke in the same strain. "The people who don’t recognize Islamic Shariah won’t enter paradise,” he said, “because those who object to Islamic law don’t love God. And those who don’t love God don’t enter paradise.”

 

Participants raised banners that read: “With our soul and blood we sacrifice for Islam,” “The people want God’s law" and "Egypt is Islamic."

 

The contest between those calling for a Democracy ‘Vs’ theocracy is reaching boiling point and the risk of violence seems inevitable. The March constitution referendum was not only farcical but was perverted by the MB & Salafist movement stating “any change to article 2 of the constitution [shariah is the source of jurisprudence] as un-islamic. The same tact is now been used to pervert the upcoming election and suppress calls for democracy.

 

Liberal Egyptians have a vision of a democratic system where all the people participate equally in the decision making process irrespective of their race, colour, religion, ethnicity, physical ability or other impairment. The vision is for a new Egypt with a democratic system where the government is the guardian of human rights delivering a civilised society providing the best life conditions for all its citizens.

 

Decades of dictatorship have retarded Egypt while democratic countries have flourished with prosperity and advanced beyond imagination. If you compare Egypt (the worlds oldest civilisation over 5000 years old) to a country like Australia (only 230 years old) the difference is stark and alarming. It is sad to see this once great civilisation has slipt into third world status plagued with poverty, unemployment, corruption and sectarian violence and discrimination. Egypt must look towards democratic countries as a role model, ‘they do not discriminate against minority groups or distinguish them by religion, race or ethnicity.

 

It is time for Egypt to catch up so all people live in a safe environment without repression or discrimination united as ‘Egyptians’.

 

Individual liberty and free press are basic components of democratic system. People in democratic societies express their

opinion and make their choices irrespective of religion.

A progressive Egypt will enshrine their rights as defined by the law and nobody can attack the people’s freedom. This will only occur with a democratic government that encourages personal autonomy and freedom of speech. The press and media must play their part and contribute to a healthy democracy, good government, economic development and political accountability. More so the media must expose and denounce any forces and elements that seek to hold Egypt back by attacking calls for a mature democratic state.

 

The interim government and SCAF also have a duty to protect the political process and outlaw any group threatening the individual’s rights as guaranteed in a democracy.

Equality and rule of law are the crucial components of democratic government; its citizens are equal governed by one set of laws equally applied. Also, “each person has an equal say to determine the common legal, political and economic institutions that they live under”.

 

In democratic regimes the law is superior and equally applied to every citizen, no laws are enacted that may in the least discriminate or impinge on a persons freedom or religion.

Egypt must learn from the New Year Alexandria church bombing {apparently orchestrated by the interior ministry} that targeted the Coptic community because of their religion. Such attacks must result in full enforcement of the law, where the government is as equally accountable as the people. It can not be denied the Copts have endured decades of oppression and limitations on their freedom. Draconian restrictions on constructing churches and the positions they can hold within the government and military.

 

These forms of government sanctioned discriminatory policies have only served to fragment society and prevent a united Egypt that can make the government accountable, “it was a self serving tact by the government to protect its power and prevent a united opposition force”

 

The alternative for Egypt is a theocracy [islamic state] where the government is unaccountable & makes clear distinction between its citizens. Those governments only support those people or social class that serve them while simultaneously neglecting others and totally oppressing non Muslims.

 

In a theocracy laws are made when convenient, without consultation and often on extreme interpretations of the Koran and Haddith. In a nutshell, theocratic governments view themselves as guardians and enforcers of “allah’s laws” at threat of sever corporal punishments or execution by a variety of methods including stoning.

As an example the king of Saudi Arabia recently announced he has decided “women would be allowed to vote in local elections, despite decades of asserting Islamic Shariah prohibits them from any political role, they still are not allowed to drive.

Moreover, the government may pass a law or procedure that doesn’t reflect the people’s interest without asking people, as an example in Iran media censorship is rigorously enforced and is used to promote propaganda and misinformation.

In a theocracy people do freely participate in the political process restricted by religious tenets, where government has absolute powers over its citizens, e.g. Iran and Saudi Arabia.

 

Those governments dominate everything and every activity within their territory and have the authority to mobilize people for particular purposes like demonstrating against other countries or the activity of opposition parties. For instance, Iran restricts people from peacefully demonstrating for change under threat of torture and jail. In Iran women and non Muslims are quickly targeted by ‘moral police’.

 

Experience has shown us, once a theocracy is established the rulers dominant with absolute power to serve their self interests and personal desires, once in power it is almost impossible to reverse, Iran is a living example of this phenomena since the 1979 revolution. Theocracies decide the destiny of millions of people without consultation.

 

Theocracies come to power through military coup or hijacking revolutions (Taliban). In some places the government governs by the dominant family or tribes, giving priority to its members and neglecting other people in the process, often using the country’s resources to dominate the economy. This is very common in monarchy systems especially in Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bahrain, where they will not hesitate to use the Military to restrict and suppress any threat to their power, effectively denying them of any “Human rights and democratic freedoms”.

 

Egyptians have suffered decades of “non-democratic government”, where individual liberty and freedom of speech were strictly restricted at threat of arrest and imprisonment by the notorious security apparatus. Government issued mandatory ID cards stating an individual’s religion are a repressive tool enhancing and facilitating religious discrimination.

Egypt is in desperate need of a democratic system where freedom of market and trading promote private sectors, business and exchange with other democratic countries.

 

The downfall of Mubarak exposed a non-democratic regime where markets were monopolized by the government and their associates. There was no space for private sectors and competitive market virtually non existent resulting in economic disorder directly effecting the citizens with wide spread poverty and unemployment. The systematic abuse by dictatorships and lack of democracy and transparency were contributing factors in the demise, downfall, arrest and trial of a 30 year president once hailed as a hero.

 

Egypt can not afford to have a democratic system stolen from them by extremists. This is the time of decision making, citizens participating in demanding a democratic government. Majority of Egyptians are hungry for collective decision, electoral participations, political pluralism, multi party system, minority rights, free markets, individual liberties, freedom of speech and organizational rights.

 

The alternative theocracy means no democracy, the people are not self-governing, human rights and individual freedom are thrown out the window labelled as un-islamic and ungodly and the media and press are controlled and regulated by the theocracy.

 


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