Today in Egypt is a historic day for what is, in the end, an inevitability in the Middle East: more democracy as Muslim citizens everywhere, tired of decades of oppression in the wake of post-colonial compromises, upset authoritarian regimes and replace them with what are sure to be shaky coalition governments and troubled politics. But at least it’s democracy in more familiar form.
Egypt has been a largely stable but troubled nation since the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in 1981 by members of the Islamic extremist group the Muslim Brotherhood. The fatwah approving the assassination was issued by the radical cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman, a man later convicted in the US for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Mubarak was vice-president at the time and injured in the attack, and his regime came under critical international scrutiny in the aftermath of the assassination for human rights violations, including torture of suspected extremists.
Mubarak’s era of political repression in the early 80s also produced the future grand-master flash of global Islamic terrorism, Ayman al-Zawahiri—better known as Osama bin Laden’s right hand man. It is no secret that many of the mujahadeen fighting in Afghanistan, first against the Soviets and later against the US, were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were dislocated from their own country only to wage new wars against the infidels, only now globally.
This is a historic day for democracy because the uprisings in Tunisia and now Egypt are now prompting citizens in all Muslim countries to evaluate the conditions of their political oppression more openly. The consequences of this are uncertain and the forces of reaction will use all of their powers to maintain the status quo, but the fact remains that people are on the streets and this is always a good thing for the spirit of democracy.