Thursday, 4 July 2013

Spring turns to Winter - or a new Spring?

Events in Egypt over the last few days are raising more than a few questions for the liberal western media and politicians who, only a year or so ago, where rejoicing at the overthrow of all the "Arab" dictators in North Africa. Apart from the fact that very few were "Arab", the outcome in most was not at all what they expected, in fact most were replaced by Islamic fundamentalists who, unsurpirisingly, had the support of the large rural populations of these nations. Now the first of those has been overthrown despite being democratically elected. President Mursi's policies of adopting increasinglz fundamentalist ideals and policies, his mishandling of the economy and his ignoring the wishes and desires of the large urban middle classes, has finally brought him down.

The military have imposed an "coalition" government and announced new elections. Who will win these is now an open question, since the Muslim Brotherhood enjoy huge support among the less educated rural populations and among the large student population of certain universities. It often amazes me how little our western media actually understand of the cultures, thinking and heritage of anything outside of the European/US environment. The idea that everyone is the same, therefore all cultures, all people and all nations share the same ideals, desires and religio/political aspirations  seems to dominate. There is often no attempt to see another culture from that people's point of view, much less to even begin to understand it.

There is a complete failure to understand the impact on "democracy" of the lack of education and the stress on religious issues in the Middle East. I have been astonished at the complete absence of any acknowledgement of the fact that there are large Christian populations in all these countries living under extremely difficult conditions, and often the victims of targeted and even genocidal persecution. It is reported that ten percent of Egypt's population is Christian, and the Muslim Brotherhood and the ex-President certainly didn't endear themselves to them. For the Middle Classes, the Christians and other minorities, Spring went direct to Winter in Egypt, with almost daily reports of Muslim Brotherhood thugs strutting about and imposing punishments, dictats and their wishes on ordinary people without restraint. Has the tide turned sufficiently to ensure a more 'liberal' candidate wins this time round?

I have my doubts, but I don't think the Summer has yet dawned. It may yet prove to be a very stormy Spring before the Summer finally arrives. In the meantime it is fascinatig and not a little disturbing to watch the handwringing of the media, and the writhing of the politicians as they dither about who to support and how to talk their way out of the trap their ignorance of any other culture and ideology than their own has dumped them in.

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