Embracing democracy in Egypt

by Joe Bialek, Daily reader

Over two years ago I wrote about the Egyptian people’s plight as they struggled for freedom from former President Hosni Mubarak. It was a joy when he left power, and I became even more excited about the first democratic elections. Sadly, the understanding of democracy has not caught up with the mechanism of democracy. There was a vote and a candidate won with a majority, but I don’t think Egypt fully comprehended the responsibilities that are required of a democratically elected republican form of government. Winning an election does not constitute the acquirement of absolute dictatorial power.  It requires that those elected serve all the people and not just those who supported them.

In the U.S. we have checks and balances that limit what those in power can do. As much as I am in disagreement with the coup executed by Egypt’s military, I am also hopeful that once the violent protest recedes into peaceful protest the election process can begin again with those newly elected officials having learned a lesson from this first-time fiasco. The Muslim Brotherhood needs to understand that compromise for the public good is not necessarily a compromise of one’s religious beliefs. You must come to a fundamental agreement with more democratic ideals without having to resort to violence. The Egyptian military needs to be convinced that groups will come together to form a strong united country before they are willing to suspend martial law. Egyptians must demonstrate to their leaders that whether you are secular, Islamist, Christian, Muslim, etc., it is more important for all to live in peace and have equal opportunity than for a chosen few to rule as dictators in support of one small faction.