Today the Egyptian election commission declared that the Islamic parties won 71% of seats in the lower house of the parliament. In an exemplary procedure, following the holiest principles of democracy, the Egyptian people went to the polls and spoke. And for the first time in this great – truly great – land, just as the fathers of the democratic idea dreamt it, the nation freely choose its leadership. The revolution won. The Islamic Revolution.
It all happened again, just like 30 years ago. The demonstrations on the streets, the pro-western authoritarian regime, the hopes for democracy and the theocratic disappointment – nothing new. Nothing, but the fact that meanwhile the west refuses to admit that something went wrong, that the young and bright symbols of the Revolution (“they are just like us,” told me a girl in New-York few months ago) stayed out, and the bearded grown men with the worn out jackets went in. So what went wrong?
The answer is surprisingly simple – absolutely nothing. Things happened exactly as logic, history and basic understanding of the ME said they will. Egypt was – is – home to a powerful Islamic movement, calling to change the structure of society to fit the Islamic laws and what they see as the Islamic way of life. “Islam is the solution” they say, as they did since the 1920’s, when the Muslim Brotherhood was founded. And in Egypt, the poor, unemployed, misgoverned Egypt, it was the authoritarian regime that kept them from power.
But they got powerful; they became the most powerful political force in Egypt, because they gave the man on the street something that the regime failed to do – hope. Through clinics and kindergartens, social aid and religious sermons they entered most of the Egyptian houses, offering food and help, giving a sense of belonging, a common fate, a common goal. They were there – not the government, not Mubarak, but the Brotherhood.
As the regime was crumbling during the last decade, they used every opportunity to gain more influence, sometimes with the kind help of the White House. And when public disapproval of the system crossed the red line of tolerance, it was clear that there is no other alternative but the Brotherhood. Islam is the solution.
The west applauded, as one of its closest allies in the ME lost his throne. It praised the revolution, naming it “the Arab Spring”, looking at it through the pink lenses of CNN and BBC. The mass media told a romantic tale of the brave bloggers who rode the Facebook white horse to Tahrir square, and slain the terrible dragon of autocracy. They did what they are good in – telling a story. Only that stories are known to have difference of opinion with the reality sometimes. And truly, the awakening of the Facebook generation, the wind of democracy touching he ancient stones of the pyramids, people taking their future in hands and fighting tyranny – what is better than this for the eight o’clock?
Only that the masses – who really did rise against autocracy – were long ago taken by the Brotherhood and its kind. And now, at last, the victors take their pace, their throne. And this is a tragedy. For Egypt, for my Israel, for the ME. A tragedy, because Egypt’s economy is already crushing, and a theocracy will not stop the slide. A tragedy, because the Brotherhood already questions the peace between this new Egypt and Israel. Millions of hungry, unemployed, desperate people, are being told by the clergy that we are the enemies of God and we are to blame.
And the west still applauds, maybe because finally there is a democracy in Egypt. The people have spoken. Does someone care what they said?