UI – Part 233a – Egypt-Nationalism–Secularism–Democracy–God’s Calling
Egypt and History
Egypt is unique among Arab nations. It stands alone in history and prominence. When considered the specter of pyramids and pharaoh’s, chariot races come to mind. We think of Joseph and Moses, of Cleopatra and Ra. All this and more is part of the national identity of Egypt.
From a Blog article, the website PolicyMic.com[i],
“Egyptians pull from thousands of years of history directly linking their nation-state back to the age of the pharaohs.This linkage is significant. Even before the European powers demarcated the boundaries of the contemporary Middle East during the mid-20th century, Egyptians were unique from the Bedouins migrating across the Sahara and Arabian deserts.
They spoke a distinct Arabic dialect, no doubt born from the busy markets of Cairo and Alexandria. They relished their shared cultural identity that made them not just Arabs, but people of Africa and the Mediterranean Sea. They bore a sizable Coptic Christian community that had contributed to society since the pre-Islamic era. For periods throughout much of the past millennium, especially before the rise of the Ottoman Empire, Cairo was seen as the social and political capital of the Arabs. Any visitor to the great Pyramids of Giza, along the banks of the Nile River, knows that the Egyptians pride themselves in their longstanding accomplishments.
As present-day Iraq and Lebanon have shown us, diversity in Arab countries can be a strong contributing factor to civil war. As a result, many Arab countries have stagnated under repressive – yet stable – regimes. These autocracies serve as a substitute for national identity in countries whose borders were created not through centuries of history, but through the pen of European colonialists.
But, Egypt is different. The borders of the Egyptian nation have been roughly the same since the Nile River was first settled. Unlike Iraq, which never really connected its modern version with the Sumerians and Babylonians that ruled within its modern borders long ago, Egyptians continually connect themselves to their Ancient and Medieval Era ancestors. Its deep, communally shared history should serve as the mortar between the bricks of Egypt’s diverse society, and that combination should help repel threats of a military takeover.”
Egypt may have the best chance at establishing a democracy. The identity of the people and their history provides a basis for considering a pluralistic society respectful of the contributions all factions have made to this great Nation. The Arab Spring, the youth it comprised, expressed a want for democracy – so it is thought. Egypt enjoys a greater share of the history of the world than any other Arab or Persian nation. But a Democracy in Egypt would require acceptance of a secular structure to government. Morsi found this problematic and immediately after his election began to make changes to adopt a Constitution that was Sharia compliant. He ignored Christians, non-Muslims, and even Muslims that disagreed, criticized or raised doubts as to his authority – when I say ignored, he persecuted these elements would be more correct, avoiding punishment of those who committed crimes against the society that he felt unfitting of that which he wanted as the nation of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood Egypt. He disdained both secularism and the nationalism (the pride of Egypt’s history and significance to the world)
The Economist, July 6, 2013 in an article entitled, Egypt’s Tragedy, wrote:
“Egypt, at the best of times, is hard to govern because society is polarized. Secular minded and better educated Egyptians generally want to be dragged into a modern, pluralistic and outward-looking world. A more conservative and religious stratum looks to political Islam rather than socialism or capitalism as the answer to centuries of injustice, inequality and corruption….”
The quote senses a division among the people of Egypt, on one hand open-minded and tolerant, wanting to be part of the modern-day world in all respects, including as a supplier of goods, services and tourism options. On the other-hand is a society of Islamic Fundamentalists characterized by the Muslim Brotherhood that, having a sense of moral superiority, seek to constrain Egypt to that of an Islamic State. Less modern, more 7th century, self-possessed, self-righteous and autocratic in nature this body politic wants to control the people for Allah and do so without respect or regard for Egypt’s history and national pride, its economy or any desire to be worldly. They would work to erase both a secular concept as well as having borders surrounding a national heritage.
But for Egypt those of the more fundamental posture have come late to the table, established in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna in March 1928 as a response to the fall of the Caliphate and secularization of Turkey under Ataturk in the 1920’s, The Muslim Brotherhood sought to fight for and restore Islam as socially dominant and important. British imperial rule that came to influence and draw lines in much of the Middle East, seeking to increase trade routes and the wealth of the peoples, influenced by the success of the UK and America, call it ‘modernity’, changed attitudes towards Islam. It impacted the Ottoman Empire and the rule of Sharia Law in Turkey as they succumbed, in the Brotherhood’s leader/founder’s mind, to becoming westernized.
Morsi has been deposed; call it what you may, a coup or the revolution continued. The people called for change and Morsi was not changing, but reverting to a 7th century dogma. The military has promised, under General El Sisi, that free elections will again be held. Some question his intentions, but if sincere he wants to see a free nation. Egypt free with a constitution that is not Sharia compliant. He is leaning also towards a separation of Mosque and Government.
(To Be Continued….)
Grace and Peace