For eighteen days I've watched the protests in Egypt with a mixture of anticipation and dread. I've studied the modern history of Egypt and its culture in an effort to gain understanding of what was taking place. I've puzzled over bits of information and their meaning. I've pondered it all at great length. I've been hesitant to put into words my perception of these events and the questions that nag at me. I've been hesitant because I'm unsure that I understand what is happening and I don't know what the ramifications are for the future of the Middle East and even the world. I've been hesitant because I'm not sure I can even adeqately express what I feel is the enormity of these events. However, it has occurred to me that I must document this for my children and grandchildren. For after all, the whole purpose of this blog is to record my thoughts and special memories for my girls and to give them insight into who I am. You're just along for the ride!
These protests turned revolution are being compared to the fall of the Shah in Iran in 1979. That revolution also started as a "democratic" movement but eventually led to tyranny of the worst kind. I have often wondered if people here in America sensed at the time the danger that lay ahead. I was only nine at the time but I rememember that our extended family had gathered for the holidays and we were shooting fireworks. My Uncle Allen had managed to rig several types of fireworks together to produce what we all hoped would be a spectacular blast and he called it the "Ayatollah Khomeini Bang". Of course, I had no idea what that meant at the time but for some reason that has always stuck with me. And so I've found myself wondering what my girls, who are 10 and 14, will remember from this period of their lives.
Today, February 11, 2011, on the 31st anniversary of the overthrow of the Iranian Shah, the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, resigned under pressure from the protests of the Egyptian people. I'm watching on Fox News as the people of Egypt are flooding the streets waving the Egyptian flag and shouting with joy that they have won their freedom. But I can't help but wonder--have they simply exchanged one dictator for another? The protests have been hailed as a pro-democracy movement. We are being told that we are witnessing another revolution for freedom akin to that of America in 1791 which ended in the greatest experiment in freedom the world has ever seen. But I can't help but fear that we are seeing a revolution in the vein of the French revolution which ended in guillotines.
Democracy. It sounds like a good thing. But in its most simple form it is "mob rule". Let us not forget that democracy doesn't equal freedom. For if the people of Egypt, in their new-found democracy, choose to follow the wrong leader they will wind up in bondage to an Islamic state and sharia law. We should also keep a watchful eye on the rest of the Middle East for the success of this revolution will almost certainly embolden revolutionaries everywhere.