The Egyptian and Tunisian march to democracy: who will they choose?

Pluto author Deina Abdelkader writes on the historic events in the Middle East and the role played by political Islam.

The past few weeks have been a watershed in the history of the Middle East. First the Tunisian and then the Egyptian people have risen up against their authoritarian governments. The question on everybody’s mind, including President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, had been – is it time for change and, if so, change to what? The popular uprising might bring winds of change that are not welcomed by the West. However, the possibility of an Islamist led government in Tunisia does not seem to cause the same degree of strife in comparison to the same scenario taking place in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Tunisia Rachid el-Ghannouchi has returned after 22 years as a political exile in London. He was met by cheering crowds, people who still see in him a leader after 22 years…Does this mean that he might be the next Tunisian president? It is difficult to ascertain that with any degree of certainty. However his return is symbolic in that it indicates that he is free to live in his own country once more after his departure caused by government harassment and imprisonment.

In the case of Egypt it is said that the Muslim Brotherhood are marching with the rest of the people, they have no leading role and are not taking a leading position. Netanyahu has warned of Israeli concerns that if President Mubarak leaves the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power and annul the peace treaty between the two countries. This fear is not related to any rational analysis or observation of the populist uprising in Egypt. It is totally blind to its grassroots nature and its wide representation of the whole society, but it is always useful to bring out the bogey man of radical Islam to scare the West from supporting a genuine move towards democracy in the Middle East.

Islamic Activists

The Anti-Enlightenment Democrats

Deina Ali Abdelkader

A thorough explanation of Islamic scholarship on democracy, which shows that enlightenment values are not essential to democratic societies.

£17.99 only £16 on the Pluto site

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