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May 25, 2011

Don’t blame the Egyptian Revolution

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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Western media has no good word about any of the Arab revolutions including that of Egypt. But Arab revolutions are all success stories. Even those who have involved violence are far less bloody than that of the French Revolution.

It is too early to evaluate the 100-day-old Egyptian Revolution, but Sherif Emil, an Egyptian Canadian from Montreal wrote a recent article published by the Montreal Gazette entitled “Still waiting for an Egyptian revolution” where he blamed the revolution for the violence between Muslims and Christians.

He said, “The Salafists, Egyptian Muslims who espouse Saudi Wahhabi style Islam, the most fundamentalist and radical form seek to establish a pure Islamic state devoid of Christians, whom they refer to as "filth." (Emil provides zero evidence). Nurtured by the Mubarak regime to counterbalance the Muslim Brotherhood, who had a strong popular base, they began to show their fangs after the revolution.”

“In incident after incident, the demands of Salafists and other Islamic extremists were being generously accommodated (Emil does not explain how). It became clear who was the de facto power in Egypt. It was Muslim fundamentalists, not the temporary civilian government or the armed forces,” he added.

Emil concluded by making a sweeping statement saying, “The common calling of revolutions spreading across the Middle East from Yemen to Egypt to Libya to Syria is "Allah Akbar" - an Islamic call to arms. Even in moderate Tunisia, Islamists have made huge gains since the revolution and are poised to win the next elections. The current Egyptian government has already made overtures toward Iran, and brought Hamas back into the Palestinian fold. A homogeneously fundamentalist Islamic Middle East is taking shape. And if we think we saw the worst of radical Islam on 9/11 or in Afghanistan, we are in for a nasty surprise.”

In his 1350-word article Sherif Emil conveniently did not remind readers with the following facts:

  1. Violence between Egyptian Muslims and Christians, especially in poor areas of the country, was as common before the revolution as after.
  2. The most influential political figure in Egypt today is a Christian, Naguib Sawirs, a multibillionaire businessman who has formed a new political party and may run for president.
  3. Political parties in Egypt, including the new ones, range from the far left to the far right. But all, including those formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, call for a secular democratic state, human rights, rule of law and social justice.
  4. Gone are the days when anyone, including priests and imams, or establishments (e.g. mosque and church) was above the law.
  5. Egyptians post-Jan. 25 know well that extreme political views will be rejected by a mature, politically savvy population. Talk shows and print media are spreading political awareness and reducing political apathy. If the people elect the wrong person or the wrong party, they have a chance to correct their mistake after four years. Gone also forever are the days when a president could rule for more than two terms. Gone are the days when he can groom his son to replace him.

I was in Tahrir Square during and after the revolution. I interviewed a wide cross-section of Egyptians, including Christian and Muslim youth and leaders. I am confident that a new Egypt has been born. There are great challenges ahead, and I, along with other Canadians are determined to share our Canadian experience with them.

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