Egypt — and Arabs, in general — are destined to fail. So say the Western presses, so it must be true, right?
Here’s the evidence that we’re dealing with a total lost cause:
1. Egypt’s Constitutional Court dissolved the lower house of Parliament Thursday (June 14), declaring the vote “unconstitutional,” in what many are calling an attempted coup by SCAF, Egypt’s military rulers.
2. In its first post-Mubarak election, Egyptians — including Christians and secularists – must decide between two “unpalatable choices,” the Muslim Brotherhood or the felool (leftover) Ahmed Shafiq, the last PM to serve under the Mubarak regime.
3. Perhaps the most unsettling news of all, a mob of hundreds of men attacked women at an anti-sexual harassment march earlier this month.
Responding to Egypt’s dismal state of affairs, the Wall Street Journal’s Margaret Coker writes, “Political chaos in Egypt has punctured the myth forged last year that the largest Arab nation, with its venerable history of political activism, would blaze a trail to democracy for the region to follow.”
She writes on to describe how the “euphoria” of revolution has dissipated into a sorry state of affairs.
First off, what magical mystery measuring stick did the WSJ fashion for revolutionary success?
These days, Egypt’s stock in democracy is indeed plummeting. I’m no apologist for the injustices of the post-Mubarak era, but, in my view, tucked into each of the perilous failures of democracy, leading to Coker’s misstep and U.S. media unconsciousness on Egypt, is a victory.
After the dissolution of the lower house of parliament, Egypt’s constituent assembly reportedly “held its first meeting on Monday [June 18] in the debating chamber of the dissolved parliament in a show of defiance against the army’s assumption of legislative powers.”
And then there are the Egyptian women attacked earlier this month. There’s nothing that can excuse what happened to them. But let’s level the playing field. The American media applauded Mona Eltahawy for saying Arab men hate Arab women in an article that garnered her much notoriety. But while she picked up a pen to write within the safe confines of an English-language publication, no one applauded the women who, knowing the violently antagonistic elements on Cairene streets, decided to put their lives on the line for their daughters and attend the anti-harassment march.
For the Western media, a ruthless culture has been fostered by the revolutions, where the accomplishments of today and the failures of yesterday are ignored or forgotten. When did we see large-scale marches for women’s rights under the Mubarak regime, when individuals had their marriages dissolved and lives ruined for being lone wolf guerrillas on the issue? Harassment was a virtually unquestioned lot in life, during that time.
*Massoud Hayoun is a staff writer at Muftah. He also edits Kansastan, a blog on the intersections between the West and the Middle East and North Africa region.