My hats off to Egypt’s secular and Islamist revolutionaries for the courage and spirit of freedom they demonstrated when they bundled out Hosni Mubarak’s monstrous dictatorship.
Over the decades I have developed an interest in Egyptian society and politics. I cherish my friendship with Egyptians in Egypt and the United States. I understand Egyptian secularists’ frustration with President Muhammad Mursi, who could have been more thoughtful in his dealings with them and in his approach to their demands.
I hope, though, that the secularists realize that the military didn’t overthrow Mursi to give them their cherished version of freedom and democracy. Never in history has a military force willingly democratized a society.
The secularists should know by now that their generals have taken them for a ride. Using their protests against Mursi as a cover, the army has stamped out the democratic process for which they paid an enormous price, including the blood of scores of martyrs. General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and his comrades ditched the Mursi regime only to regain their levers on government and politics and preserve their obscene, ill-gotten wealth. The military brass will now try to continue their divide-and-rule policy (pitting secularists against Islamists) to maintain their repression and exploitation of Egyptian society, albeit through their lackeys in business suits.
About the only way Egyptians can rescue freedom and democracy from their power-hungry generals is to restore the national unity that enabled them to overthrow the Mubarak dictatorship.
Secularists and Islamists are two integral segments of Egyptian society. Neither can banish the other from the public space. Their estrangement from one another can serve only to perpetuate the military stranglehold on their political and economic life.
It’s time the two ideological camps reach out to each other. They should thrash out their constitutional differences in a spirit of compromise. And together they should send their swashbuckling generals back into their barracks, never again to venture into politics and governance.