Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Worry Begins

Egypt Vote Results Shows Islamists' Rising Sway - WSJ.com
The protest leaders opposed these recently approved amendments to Egypt's constitution, arguing instead that the entire constitution needed to be rewritten and that in particular presidential powers must be curtailed.  Instead religious leaders, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, pushed for these small changes that established presidential term limits but also expanded the power of independent parties.  In the Journal's own words:
Electoral officials said 77% of Egyptians voted to accept a set of proposed amendments to Egypt's constitution that will, among other changes, limit the presidency to two four-year terms and ease restrictions on independent political participation, according to results announced Sunday.  The proposed changes were opposed by protest leaders and by presidential front-runners Mohammed El Baradei and Amr Moussa. Both men urged Egyptians to reject the amendments, written by lawyers and judges nominated by Egypt's military. Protest leaders and opposition politicians instead pushed for an entirely new constitution that would limit expansive presidential powers.  The results from Saturday's referendum signal a shift in Egypt's continuing revolution. The protest leaders, once celebrated as heroes and martyrs, are no longer the leading voice in Egypt's transition to democracy.  In their place are popular religious leaders, whose strong backing of the amendments held sway.
Were even the protest leaders taken in by democracy's allure only to have it soon trampled by Islamists?  I pray this is not the case.

An Egyptian political analyst, Nabil Abdel Fattah, said (as quoted in the Journal):
This is a nightmare for intellectual Egyptians.  All the youth accepted the results of the referendum as a form of democracy. But at the same time, they felt very deceived by the dangerous role the religious groups played against them. They felt that their revolution is being aborted and there is a huge, huge threat to the unity of the country from using religious campaigns.
Were we also taken in by the youth and their enthusiastic embrace of democracy?  Will democracy again lead to our enemies, and the protestors' enemies, seizing power?  Is it be possible to nurture democracy in lands where far too many see it only as a means to an end, a means to turn their countries into Islamist theocracies?  Please let this not be so.  Where is America's leadership?  Can we help to fashion an Arab democracy?

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