Tuesday, February 01, 2011

If There's One Good Thing About Egypt's Protests

And it's something that's taken some time to comprehend, but I think this is a key fact and something the U.S. and western allies can base their hopes on:

The Egyptians that are protesting are doing so AGAINST President Mubarak and FOR open elections/government.  The one thing they ARE NOT doing is protesting for a mullah-led or theocratic government like what happened in Iran.

They've used prayer as a means of protest, sure.  It's Islam: public praying five times a day toward Mecca is a given, and it's a great way to organize and gather.  But the protesters are NOT gathering around any particular spiritual leader.  There's not a mullah or ayatollah being touted as the Next Great Savior.  They're also leaving F-CK MUBARAK graffiti everywhere, in the honored and storied tradition of ancient Roman wall artists.

The biggest concern is that, yes, the Muslim Brotherhood is the group that has the most to gain if Mubarak gets kicked out.  And the Brotherhood is fundamentalist and way against women rights.  But there are other groups in Egypt, and there is a moderate political opponent (Mohamed ElBaradei) around whom the protesters have rallied (he's a lawyer, international nuclear arms regulator with the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize on his resume). AND the Brotherhood isn't the group that will have a final say... it's actually the military, which profits from U.S. aid and will most likely push for a more moderate government once the revolution ends.

Here's hoping the Egyptian military keeps their word that they will not fire on unarmed and peaceful protesters.  Here's hoping the protesters keep the peace as they speak for their nation's reforms.  Here's hoping Egypt becomes another Turkey and not an Iran.  And here's hoping that when (not if, this isn't North Korea nor China, and the whole world is watching now) Mubarak leaves, the Egyptians' anger towards the U.S. (which has backed Mubarak all these decades in the expediency of international security) abates.

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