What If the Egyptian Protesters Were Democrats?

by Steven Salaita

Their recent upheaval would certainly have been different, perhaps dramatically different.

In the past month, the people of Egypt—inspired by the recent democratic revolution in Tunisia and preceding emergent revolutions in Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, and Syria—have undertaken a revolt of truly stunning proportions, one that includes men and women from all class strata, religious and ethnic origins, and ideological commitments.  They managed to rid themselves of a longstanding and brutal dictator worth over $40 billion and supported by the collective power of the United States, European Union, Israel, and the Arab Gulf States.

Now that two Arab dictators have been vanquished by the collective will of unaffiliated protesters, many American commentators have been forced to rethink their assumptions about the supposedly tribal and authoritarian Arab mind.  Such commentators, sometimes conservative but often liberal, fancy themselves guardians of a civic and political enlightenment that in reality is misinformed in addition to being conceited and imperialistic.

Nevertheless, given the ardor and self-confidence of the notion that American values exemplify democratic modernity, let us imagine a few potential outcomes had the pioneering people of Egypt followed the example of today’s liberal American Democrats.

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The fall of Mubarak

Final installment of Al Jazeera’s excellent Egypt Burning series.

As the calls for regime change move into their third week, Egyptians have broken down the barrier of fear. Cracks between the protesters have started to show, but resolute protesters are standing firm on their call for the president to resign.

Social networks, social revolution

Al Jazeera Empire: Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have become the new weapons of mass mobilisation. Are social networks triggering social revolution? And where will the next domino fall?

Zionism Contra Democracy

by Stephen J. Sniegoski

Author’s Prologue:  I write this article as the bottoms-up Egyptian democratic revolution has just brought down what had seemed until  very recently to be the solid regime of Hosni Mubarak.  It was an amazing accomplishment achieved by the power of the whole people—something that is often sloganized but never realized.  And the fact that this was accomplished without violence on the part of the revolutionaries is equally amazing.  While one can only admire the courage and tenacity of the Egyptian people and take pleasure in their jubilation, it is also necessary to look at the ongoing realities, with the recognition that the process is only beginning, and that there are intelligent minds,  cold,  calculating, and totally unsympathetic to the aspirations of the common people of the Middle East, who are already developing sophisticated strategies to thwart its fruition.

Despite the usual mantra about Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, it is quite apparent that the Jewish exclusivist state has been, and in fact must be, opposed to democracy in the Middle East.  The fact that it is a state based on Jewish exclusivity means that it must treat the Palestinians in an undemocratic manner in both the occupied territories and in Israel itself, because the Palestinians pose  an existential threat to the Jewish state by virtue of their very existence.

Moreover, the negative reaction of Israel and its devotees to the  revolution for democracy in Egypt illustrates that Israel’s  detrimental effect on democracy goes far beyond the boundaries of historic Palestine.  Israeli leaders are terrified that this democratic revolution might bring about a radical change in Egypt’s foreign policy, since Mubarak had acquiesced  to and actually in some ways facilitated Israel’s regional hegemony, which the general public neither in Egypt nor anywhere else in the Middle East would voluntarily support.

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Standoff on the Nile

After seven days of mass protests in Egypt, a people’s movement has taken hold throughout the country, demanding the end of Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years in power. A day-by-day account of how Egypt has been set alight by a mass revolt against President Hosni Mubarak.

“Egypt is free” and “We won!”

by Tariq Ali

Egyptian anti government protesters shout slogans as they continue their presence in Tahrir square

A joyous night in Cairo. What bliss to be alive, to be an Egyptian and an Arab. In Tahrir Square they’re chanting, “Egypt is free” and “We won!”

The removal of Mubarak alone (and getting the bulk of his $40bn loot back for the national treasury), without any other reforms, would itself be experienced in the region and in Egypt as a huge political triumph. It will set new forces into motion. A nation that has witnessed miracles of mass mobilisations and a huge rise in popular political consciousness will not be easy to crush, as Tunisia demonstrates.

Arab history, despite appearances, is not static. Soon after the Israeli victory of 1967 that marked the defeat of secular Arab nationalism, one of the great Arab poets, Nizar Qabbani wrote:

Arab children,
Corn ears of the future,
You will break our chains.
Kill the opium in our heads,
Kill the illusions.
Arab children,
Don’t read about our suffocated generation,
We are a hopeless case,
As worthless as a water-melon rind.
Don’t read about us,
Don’t ape us,
Don’t accept us,
Don’t accept our ideas,
We are a nation of crooks and jugglers.
Arab children,
Spring rain,
Corn ears of the future,
You are the generation that will overcome defeat.

How happy he would have been to seen his prophecy being fulfilled.

Continue reading ““Egypt is free” and “We won!””

Ayman Mohyeldin on his detention by the Egyptian military

Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Cairo who was held by the military outside Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Monday, has spoken to the network about the experience following his release.

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Democracy in the Arab world?

The protests that overthrew half a century of autocratic rule in Tunisia are spreading. The governments of Egypt, Algeria, and Yemen are feeling the wrath of decades of repression as people take to the streets and demand freedom.