Islamic Experiment

Source: Spiegel on Line:

Can Egypt Make Democracy Work?

By Juliane von Mittelstaedt and Volkhard Windfuhr in Cairo

Photo Gallery: Egypt Tests Democracy

Scott Nelson / DER SPIEGEL

One year after the revolution, Egypt may have a parliament, but it still has a long way to go before it can call itself a true democracy. The ultra-conservative Salafists have misgivings about the parliamentary system, while secular politicians worry that the Muslim Brotherhood and the military council are making deals behind the scenes. On his first day as a member of parliament, Ziad el-Eleimy is standing on Tahrir Square, where it all began. He is wearing a baggy corduroy jacket with the parliamentarian sticker on his lapel, and he is carrying a plastic bag. He slept on the square for almost three weeks during the revolution.  Now el-Eleimy is looking across Tahrir Square as if searching for something, but there is nothing to be found. Traffic is roaring across the asphalt, the air is heavy with exhaust fumes, and the traffic signals haven’t been repaired in a year. A Japanese reporter holds a microphone up to his face, and el-Eleimy makes a few random comments about freedom and social justice and the fact that his heart remains in Tahrir Square.

His grandfather was imprisoned under former President Gamal Abdel Nasser, his parents were jailed under Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, and el-Eleimy himself spent time behind bars under now-deposed President Hosni Mubarak — it was only a month, but it was enough time for his captors to give him a broken leg and a broken arm. Three rulers and three generations of oppression are to come to an end on this day, the day el-Eleimy, 31, an attorney, revolutionary and representative of the people, takes his seat in the new parliament. The only problem is that he can’t even believe it himself.

Double Experiment

One year after the revolution, Egypt has a new parliament, one that was elected more freely and fairly than ever before. More than two-thirds of its members are Islamists, who now hold as many seats as the former state party, the NDP, once held. There are eight women in this parliament, 13 former NDP members and only a handful of young revolutionaries. Together, they are charged with drafting a constitution, and at the end of June, when the president has been elected, the military council is slated to transfer power to a civilian government. That, at least, is the plan.


Categories: Africa, Egypt, Middle East

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