Bad omens for Egypt

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The unrest in Cairo is making me uneasy. First and foremost, a very close friend of mine, who also happens to be a budding journalist, has just jetted off there, and I have visions of him doing vox pops amid a mob of angry protestors wielding flaming torches through the streets. Secondly, there is the obvious observation that violence now could put a thorn in the side of social and political progress in Egypt. I really, really want the Arab Spring to have positive consequences for all countries who took/continue to take part in it – but is this too naive? Can it ever really be as simple as overthrowing one leader to enjoy a new, utopian society?

These things go through cycles. Throughout history, people have obeyed and rebelled, then obeyed, then rebelled. All over the world, we have sworn loyalty to a new way, a new regime, only to see it darken over time, and then we tear it down with a vengeance. This principle stretches from the downfall of New Labour to full-blown civil war, to regicide against Charles I, and so on and so forth. It’s sad, but it’s true – and I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon.

The situation in Egypt is following a common pattern. A leader is overthrown; a nation celebrates, unified by the victory. Then comes the vying for power between the religious, military and political/civil ranks; in Egypt, we have the military, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the revolutionaries. I think it’s too soon to say whether the political dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood is a good or bad thing. For a Brit such as myself to judge one way or another would be to impose our model of a secular society onto a country with entirely different cultural roots, which is not a good idea.

But with conflict infesting itself across the capital, it seems to me that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better; people are disappointed that one year on from those jubilant celebrations life has not really improved, and I don’t see those people becoming any less angry anytime soon. I could be wrong – this could be a blip in the road to recovery. I hope I’m wrong. And I hope my friend will stay safe and unadventurous until things die down a little.

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