The pressure in Egypt has been building for a long time and has now finally exploded — inspired by the events in Tunisia. The fact that the Egyptian government has been taken by surprise is a sign of how disconnected the regime has become from the reality on the ground. Mubarak has wasted many opportunities to transfer power to another administration peacefully. He could have gone down in history as the first Arab leader to conduct a fair election, but instead, he kept ignoring the inevitable and kept re-electing himself for 30 years, followed by grooming his son to take over. Now he will go down in history as just another Arab tyrant in the dysfunctional political history of the Muslim world.
Having been born and raised in the Muslim faith during the generation of the 1952 Egyptian revolution, in which my father held a prominent role in the Nasser revolutionary government of that time, I see things repeating themselves. The Nasser 52 revolution promised freedom, democracy, Arab Nationalism and self-rule. Nasser toppled what he called the tyrant King Farouk, promised a new era of freedom, democracy and prosperity, but ended up giving Egyptians more of the same. The era of Nasser was one of the most oppressive periods in Egyptian history, ushering in a long period of wars, socialism, poverty, illiteracy, and a police state.
Judging from Arab history, revolutions do not necessarily bring about democracy or freedom. Will the current Egyptian uprising bring what it was intending to bring? Or will it end up in a vicious cycle of uprising and tyranny following the footsteps of the earlier 52 revolution? In a recent poll, over 70% of Egyptians stated that they want to live under Sharia Islamic law. And most of these people do not understand that Sharia law will result not in a democracy but in a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia. That unrealistic expectation by the majority of Egyptians will probably end up in a great disappointment — the same way the Iranian revolution could not deliver the freedom and democracy the Iranian people had hoped for. Many Egyptians chant “Allahu Akbar” and “Islam is the solution.” But the truth is, Islam or more accurately, Sharia, is the problem.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is entrenched in Egyptian society, has announced that it is currently in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei – the former UN nuclear watchdog chief – to form a national unity government. They have chosen to ally themselves with a well known moderate international figure which might make them more acceptable to the moderates and reformists in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood will use the democratic process to come to power but the true nature of the Brotherhood will come out as soon as they take power. According to their basic beliefs, they must rule according to Sharia, which is the official law of Egypt anyway.