Muslim Democracy

The American founding notion of “inalienable rights” stems from the Hebrew concept of a covenant: a grant of rights implies a Grantor, and an irreversible grant implies a God who limits his own sovereignty in covenant with mankind. From the vantage point of Islam, the idea that God might limit his own powers by making an eternal covenant with human beings is unthinkable, for Allah is absolutely transcendent, and unconditionally omnipotent. From a Hebrew, and later Christian, standpoint, the powers of the earthly sovereign are limited by God’s law which irreversibly grants rights to every human being. Islam, unable to make sense of such self-limitation by the divine sovereign, has never produced a temporal political system subject to constitutional limitations.

80, 81

…Islamic Liberation Party (also known as Hizb ut-Tahrir) argues that there are several fundamental points of incompatibility between Islam and democracy. Most Islamist extremists share this view; the moment they take power, they will establish a quasi-fascist theocracy.

A professor of Middle East studies at the University of Haifa, David Bukay, argued that “the Islamic world is not ready to absorb the basic values of modernism and democracy” because “individual rights and freedoms inherent in democracy do not exist in a system where Islam is the ultimate source of law.” For his part, the Iraqi intellectual Abdel Khaleq Hussein considered that Arab-Islamic culture imposed a pattern of patriarchal relations beneath the absolute authority of the father figure, who is also the tribal chief. In this view, the Arab state was an extension of the tribe.

Other thinkers have argued to the contrary that Islam is no less compatible with democracy than any other religion. The foremost legal research organization in Egypt, Dar al-Ifta, published a study in 2011 affirming that as a system of government, democracy is consistent with Islamic principles. Where is the truth among all these contradictory opinions?

The enthusiasm of yester-year for the “Arab Spring” has proved entirely misguided. It has led to chaos in Egypt and anarchy in Libya. Those determined to be “on the right side of history” now find themselves on the wrong side of the argument. Democracy is empathically not the solution for extremely complex societies and Western meddling only makes matters immeasurably worse. The fundamental reason for our failure is that democracy, as we understand it, simply doesn’t work in Middle Eastern countries where family, tribe, sect and personal friendships trump the apparatus of the state. These are certainly not societies governed by the rule of law. On the contrary, they are better described as “favour for favour” societies. When you have a problem of any kind, you look for someone related to you by family, tribe or region to help you out and requests are most unlikely to be refused since these ties are especially powerful. In countries where there is no effective social security, your future security lies only in the often extensive family.

Behind what we might perceive as this somewhat chaotic structure lie the secret police and the armed forces. They hold the state together under the aegis of the president, king, or whoever rules the roost. That leader keeps the different elements of society in play with concessions to each group but he has an iron fist to be used when necessary, as the public well understand.

The fantasy of Middle Eastern moderates

Throughout history, the dynamic imperative of history has marched in uniform, gladius in hand, toward unity. Cousins make up clans. Clans comprise tribes. Tribes become nations. Nations establish kingdoms. Kings desire empires. Empires fall. In the 21st century, unity of action within the non-political Kingdom of God is the only viable form of union.

Unity of political action in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries brought about democracy in Europe and North America. The Age of Enlightenment provided the intellectual framework for the flowering of Western democracy because reason replaced dogma: demons do not cause floods, droughts, and disease. Accepted truths based upon superstition and the power of landed and titled aristocracy withered. In the Muslim world, dogma prevails. Within Islam there has never been an Age of Enlightenment or Renaissance comparable to Dante or John Locke. More importantly, most of the Muslim world remains tribal with no sense of national consciousness. Additionally, Sunnis and Shiites hate each other, which is not conducive to the unity that is the foundation of democracy, governmental power exercised for the common good.

The following articles reveal the fundamental flaw in Muslim society that will militate against the development of viable democracy and free institutions in Arab and Persian lands. Democratic institutions, in fact, are an existential threat to tribal societies. George Bush: are you gettin’ it?

February 07, 2008 Edition 6

Tribal system promises much for a new Iraq
Jaber Aljaberi

…Every Iraqi government has tried and failed to disband the tribal system. Today, we have seen that the tribal mechanism (including tribal leaders, tribal law, and tribal judges) has demonstrated its effectiveness and has earned a place in a modern Iraq. It is a system that is based on hundreds of years of experience in resolving disputes and mediating conflict; it is practical, effective, secular and completely tuned in to stakeholder needs with full transparency and accountability. Furthermore, today many tribal leaders, historically uneducated but knowledgeable and wise, can tout degrees in law, engineering, mathematics and medicine. We may not see a Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq, but the tribal leaders of Iraq are poised to lead their nation toward an equitable system.

Tribes With Flags

Published: March 22, 2011

David Kirkpatrick, the Cairo bureau chief for The Times, wrote an article from Libya on Monday that posed the key question, not only about Libya but about all the new revolutions brewing in the Arab world: “The question has hovered over the Libyan uprising from the moment the first tank commander defected to join his cousins protesting in the streets of Benghazi: Is the battle for Libya the clash of a brutal dictator against a democratic opposition, or is it fundamentally a tribal civil war?”

This is the question because there are two kinds of states in the Middle East: “real countries” with long histories in their territory and strong national identities (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran); and those that might be called “tribes with flags,” or more artificial states with boundaries drawn in sharp straight lines by pens of colonial powers that have trapped inside their borders myriad tribes and sects who not only never volunteered to live together but have never fully melded into a unified family of citizens. They are Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The tribes and sects that make up these more artificial states have long been held together by the iron fist of colonial powers, kings or military dictators. They have no real “citizens” in the modern sense. Democratic rotations in power are impossible because each tribe lives by the motto “rule or die” — either my tribe or sect is in power or we’re dead.

It is no accident that the Mideast democracy rebellions began in three of the real countries — Iran, Egypt and Tunisia — where the populations are modern, with big homogenous majorities that put nation before sect or tribe and have enough mutual trust to come together like a family: “everyone against dad.” But as these revolutions have spread to the more tribal/sectarian societies, it becomes difficult to discern where the quest for democracy stops and the desire that “my tribe take over from your tribe” begins.

Tribalism is the real enemy in Iraq

Published 10:00 p.m., Saturday, June 17, 2006

Forget the Quran. Forget the ayatollahs and the imams. If we want to understand the enemy we’re fighting in Iraq, the magic word is tribe.

Islam is not our opponent in Baghdad or Fallujah. We delude ourselves if we believe the foe is a religion. The enemy is tribalism articulated in terms of religion.

For two years I’ve been researching a book about Alexander the Great’s counterguerrilla campaign in Afghanistan, 330-327 B.C. What has struck me most powerfully is that that war is a dead ringer for the ones we’re fighting today — even though Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.

In other words, the clash of East and West is at bottom not about religion. It’s about two different ways of being in the world. Those ways haven’t changed in 2,300 years. They are polar antagonists, incompatible and irreconcilable.

The West is modern and rational; its constituent unit is the nation. The East is ancient and visceral; its constituent unit is the tribe.

The tribe is the most ancient form of social organization. It arose from the hunter-gatherer clans of prehistory. A tribe is small. It consists of personal, face-to-face relationships, often of blood. A tribe is cohesive. Its structure is hierarchical. It has a leader and a rigid set of norms and customs that define each individual’s role. Like a hunting band, the tribe knows who’s the top dog and knows how to follow orders. What makes Islam so powerful in the world today is that its all-embracing discipline and order overlay the tribal mindset so perfectly. Islam delivers the certainty and security that the tribe used to. It permits the tribal way to survive and thrive in a post-tribal and supertribal world.

Am I knocking tribalism? Not at all. In many ways I think people are happier in a tribal universe. Consider the appeal of post-apocalyptic movies such as “The Road Warrior” or “The Day After Tomorrow.” Modern life is tough. Who can fault us if now and then we entertain the idea of going back to the simple life?

The people we’re fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan live that life 24/7/365, and they’ve been living it for the past 10,000 years. They like it. It’s who they are. They’re not going to change.

How do you combat a tribal enemy?

Step one is to recognize that that enemy is tribal. We in the West may flatter ourselves that democracy is taking root in Iraq when we see news footage of blue-ink thumbs and beaming faces emerging from polls. What’s really happening has nothing to do with democracy. What’s happening is the tribal chief has passed the word and everybody is voting exactly as he told them to.

What is the nature of the tribe? What can sociology tell us about its attributes?

The tribe respects power.

Saddam Hussein understood this. So did Tito, Stalin, Hitler. So will the next strong man who ultimately stabilizes Iraq.

The tribe must have a chief. It demands a leader. With a top dog, every underdog knows his place. He feels secure. He can provide security for this family. The tribe needs a Tony Soprano. It needs a [sheik] Godfather.

The United States blew it in Iraq the first week after occupying Baghdad. Capt. Nate Fick of the Recon Marines tells the story of that brief interlude when U.S. forces were still respected, just before the looting started. Fick went in that interval to the local headman in his area of responsibility in Baghdad; he asked what he needed. The chief replied, “Clean water, electricity and as many statues of George W. Bush as you can give us.”

The tribe needs a boss. Alexander understood this. Unlike the United States, the Macedonians knew how to conquer a country. When Alexander took Babylon in 333 B.C., he let the people know he was the man. They accepted this. They welcomed it. Life could go on.

When we Americans declared in essence to the Iraqis, “Here, folks, you’re free now; set up your own government,” they looked at us as if we were crazy. The tribal mind doesn’t want freedom; it wants security. Order. It wants a new boss. The Iraqis lost all respect for us then. They saw us as naive, as fools. They saw that we could be beaten.

The tribe is a warrior; its foundation is warrior pride.

The heart of every tribal male is that of a warrior. Even the most wretched youth in a Palestinian refugee camp sees himself as a knight of Islam. The Pathan code of nangwali prescribes three virtues — nang, pride; badal, revenge; melmastia, hospitality. These guys are Apaches.

What the warrior craves before all else is respect. Respect from his own people, and, even more, from his enemies. When we of the West understand this, as Alexander did, we’ll have taken the first step toward solving the unsolvable.

The tribe is the most primitive form of social organization. In the conditions under which the tribe evolved, survival was everything. Cohesion meant the difference between starving and eating. The tribe enforces conformity by every means possible — wives, mothers and daughters add the whip hand to keep the warriors in line. Freedom is a luxury the tribe can’t afford. The tribesman’s priority is respect within the tribe, to belong, to be judged a man.

You can’t sell freedom to tribesmen any more than you can sell democracy. He doesn’t want it. It violates his code. It threatens everything he stands for.

I just read an article about Ariel Sharon (a tribal leader if there ever was one.) The interviewer was describing how, as Sharon crossed a certain stretch of Israeli real estate, he pointed out with great emotion the hills where the biblical character Abigail lived out her story. In other words, to the tribesman the land isn’t for sale; it’s been rendered sacred by the sagas of ancestors. The tribe will paint the stones red with its own blood before letting itself be evicted from the land.

Tribes deal in absolutes. Their standards of honor cannot be compromised. Crush the tribe in one century, it will rise again a thousand years from now. We’re seeing this now in a Middle East where the Crusades happened yesterday. When the tribe negotiates, it is always a sham — a stalling tactic meant to mitigate temporary weakness. Do we believe Iran is really “coming to the table”? As soon as the tribe regains power, it will abrogate every treaty and every pact.

The tribe has no honor except within its own sphere, deriving justice for its own people. Its code is Us versus Them. The outsider is a gentile, an infidel, a devil.

These are just a few of the characteristics of the tribal mind. Now: what to do about this?

You can’t make deals with a tribal foe; they won’t be honored. You can’t buy them; they’ll take your money and despise you. The tribe can’t be reasoned with. Its mind is not rational, it’s instinctive. The tribe is not modern but primitive. The tribe thinks from the stem of its brain, not the cortex. Its code is of warrior pride, not of Enlightenment reason.

To deal successfully with the tribe, a negotiator of the West must first grant it its pride and honor. The tribe’s males must be addressed as warriors; its women must be treated with respect. The tribe must be left to its own land, to govern as it deems best.

If you want to get out of a tribal war, you must find a scenario by which the tribe can declare itself victorious. The tribal mind is canny; it knows when it’s whipped. But its warrior pride is so fierce, it cannot admit this. The tribe has to be allowed its face.

It took Alexander three years, but he finally got a handle on the tribal mind. (Perhaps because so many of his own Macedonians were basically tribal.) Alexander produced peace by marrying the daughter of his most powerful enemy, the princess Roxane. The tribe understands such an act. This is respect. This is honor.

Alexander made the tribesmen his equals. He acknowledged their warrior honor. When he and his army marched out to their next conquest, Alexander took the bravest of his former enemies with him as his companions. They rode at his side in stations of honor; they dined at his shoulder in the royal pavilion. (Of course he also beat the living hell out of the Afghans for three years prior, and when he took off, he left a fifth of his army to garrison the place.)

In the end, unless we’re ready to treat them the way we did Geronimo, the tribe is unbeatable. They’re just too crazy. They’re not like us. Tolerance and open-mindedness are not virtues to them; they’re signs of weakness. The tribe is too rigid to bend, and it can’t be negotiated with.

Perhaps in the end, our leaders, like Alexander, will figure some way to bring the tribal foe around. More likely in my opinion, they’ll arrive at the same conclusion as did Lord Roberts, the legendary British general. Lord Roberts fought (and defeated militarily) tribesmen in two bloody wars in Afghanistan in the 19th century. His conclusion: Get out. Roberts’ axiom was that the farther away British forces remained from the tribesmen, the more likely the tribesmen were to feel warmly toward them; the closer he got, the more they hated him and the more stubbornly and implacably they fought against him.

Tribal lawsuits, ‘fake sheiks’ threaten Iraqi doctors

By Stephanie McCrummen, Friday, April 1, 6:12 PM

BAGHDAD — It was a simple surgery to fix a broken nose, doctor Naseer al-Sudani recalled. Although the procedure went well, weeks later the 35-year-old patient died from a blood clot, a condition deemed unrelated. Within hours, the dreaded phone calls began.
“They said, ‘Our brother is dead — we must negotiate,’” Sudani said, recounting the family’s initial demand of $40,000. If he refused, he knew he could be killed.

So he did what Iraqis do these days: He got himself a good sheik, who led a delegation to meet the family’s sheik, and weeks of distressing discussions began.

Eight years after the American invasion put Iraq on a path to a more modern, democratic society, people here are increasingly resorting to the ancient process of tribal negotiations — called fasels, and conducted by tribal leaders or sheiks — to demand compensation for alleged injustices.

While Iraqis have long joked about frivolous fasels, people say an especially degenerate version is now running amok, in which powerful sheiks are essentially extorting huge sums of money from professionals, especially doctors.

The problem is partly a result of Iraq’s weak legal system and the lack of official grievance processes, non-issues during Saddam Hussein’s autocratic rule, when a tyrannical order prevailed and malpractice complaints were handled through the courts. But many also blame a relic of the U.S. occupation: so-called “fake sheiks’’ — including “Condoleeza Rice sheiks,” named for the former secretary of state — who were paid by the United States to fight insurgents, a practice Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has continued.

While sheiks are generally respected in Iraqi society, many say that some of the newly-minted ones — often distinguished by flashy clothes and fancy sport-utility vehicles — are turning into a kind of fledgling Iraqi mafia.

“They are opportunists, like bullies,” said Ali Abbas Anbori, a Baghdad doctor who advocates for health care and legal reform. “It’s all about what kind of force does this person have — it has nothing to do with malpractice. If the doctor doesn’t pay, they may threaten his life, his family, kidnap his children.”

Officials at several Baghdad hospitals said tribal threats are so pervasive that many doctors are leaving the country as they did during the war.

“I don’t even know who my sheik is,” said an ophthalmologist who recently returned from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to work in Baghdad and is considering leaving again. “My wife is an anesthesiologist and she wants to work [in Iraq,] but I’m telling her don’t. It’s too risky.”

Bargaining process

Of the many layers of identity in Iraq, tribe is among the most fundamental, although Iraqis embrace it to varying degrees. Many do not commit themselves to sheiks, a semi-formal process that brings economic and personal security but also obligations.

Though tribal law was officially banned in 1958 and mostly stifled during Hussein’s rule, it has begun to flourish again for a variety of reasons.

“After the ugly occupation, Iraq spent years with no authority, no government,” said Mohammad Ismaeel Almsuody, a respected sheik in Baghdad. “We’ve handled these matters responsibly.”

Sitting on an ornate velour couch in a handsome office, Almsuody described a recent case of a man who died during an operation.

As compensation for the dead man’s family, Almsuody initially demanded $50,000, which was subjected to various discounts according to tribal custom. Because the death was deemed accidental, the sheik agreed to cut the amount in half. Because the doctor confessed to an error quickly, it was reduced further. And because his delegation included a descendant of the prophet Muhammad, known as a Sayeed, there was another discount.

In the end, the doctor paid $5,000. To refuse would touch off a cycle of tribal retribution that could last years.

‘You have to pay’

While Almsuody considers himself a refined arbiter of tribal law, he and others lament the rise of those they consider “fake sheiks.” Instead of family pedigree, the authority of the nouveau sheiks derives from often huge sums money they received from the Americans to organize militias and fight insurgents during the worst days of the war.

More recently, many have struck political arrangements with Maliki, who has established quasi-political bodies called tribal support councils around the country.

Though he could not be certain, Sudani suspected the sheik who threatened him was one of these. Cautiously, the doctor described him as “impolite.”

“One of his delegates was boasting, ‘We’ve taken money from all the doctors in Nasiriyah!’ ’’ Sudani said, referring to the patient’s home town in southern Iraq, where the negotiations were held.

Sudani — whose own sheik assembled a formidable delegation — eventually paid about $8,000, which came out of his pocket because there is no liability insurance in Iraq.

“Even if it’s not your fault, you have to pay,” he said. “Otherwise, you will have problems.” He and others said that many doctors are declining to do more complex operations because of the new threats. Others are taking extra precautions.

‘Law of the jungle’

In the city of Fallujah, doctor Sabah al-Ani employs bodyguards to screen his waiting room for patients who might be dangerously litigious.

“There are certain bad signs,” said Ani, an orthopedic surgeon who has paid thousands in compensation in the past two years. “If a patient comes with his own bodyguard, or with a sheik. Or if he comes in talking on a cellphone, saying things like, ‘We are the responsible men here!’ In those cases, I will say I am tired, or send them to Baghdad.”

Sitting in his small clinic off a street of bullet-splashed buildings, Ani recalled a colleague who disputed a compensation demand. He was thrown in a trunk and held captive for weeks until his family agreed to pay.

Part of the problem, Ani said, is that patients often do not understand the possible complications of surgery. Mainly, though, when ordinary Iraqis get frustrated, they have “many newly powerful men” they might call into action,’’ he said. “It’s the law of the jungle.”

It was some blend of these factors that drove Ayad Hussein to target a doctor who failed to repair several fingers mangled by bullets during a firefight in Fallujah. After a year of unsuccessful operations, he said, “I visited my sheik.”

The doctor eventually paid Hussein about $2,000 — the cost of the operations, plus damages.

“We are from one of the biggest tribes,” said Hussein, an unemployed construction worker. “My sheik was pleased to accept this amount.”

Egypt’s military keeping repressive practices in place

By Leila Fadel, Saturday, April 2, 4:35 PM

CAIRO — Egypt’s armed forces have detained and tried thousands of people since taking control of the country this year, according to human rights and legal activists, who see it as a sign that the toppling of a president was just the start of Egyptians’ battle for democracy.

In the weeks that followed President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster Feb. 11, they say, the country’s security agencies have been weakened, but the military has continued many of their repressive practices and a hated emergency law that allows random arrests is still in place.

“We have another battle ahead with the army,” said Mona Seif, an activist with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, a legal firm that works in the human rights field. “The army has a big part of it still loyal to the old regime. They have economic interests in the old system. They won’t let go of that easily.”

Last month, Seif said, she was demonstrating with her mother in central Cairo. Soldiers broke up the protest, and she watched as they hauled off a man and beat him. She confronted them, demanding his release. They let him go, his face bleeding. Later that day, she said, he was arrested again and sentenced in a three-minute military tribunal proceeding to five years in prison for assaulting an officer on duty and breaking curfew, despite being picked up hours before the curfew.

Seif began to look into the case and, with the help of lawyers at the center, learned that at least 5,000 people have been arrested and tried in military courts since Mubarak dismissed his government and sent the armed forces into the streets Jan. 28.

“Suddenly this case I witnessed opened a whole window into this awful world that no one knows about it and no one wants to talk about,” Seif said. “Everyone was talking about the military as our saviors.”

When the army was deployed in the face of growing anti-government protests in late January, people celebrated, chanting, “The army and the people are one.”

Egypt Army Kills 1 Dispersing Overnight Protest

Published: April 8, 2011
Updated: April 9, 2011 at 7:46 AM ET

CAIRO (AP) — Demonstrators burned cars and barricaded themselves with barbed wire inside a central Cairo square demanding the resignation of the military’s head after troops violently dispersed an overnight protest killing one and injuring 71.

Hundreds of soldiers beat protesters with clubs and fired into the air in the pre-dawn raid on Cairo’s central Tahrir Square in a sign of the rising tensions between Egypt’s ruling military and protesters.

Armed with sticks and other makeshift weapons, the protesters vowed not to leave until the defense minister, the titular head of state, has resigned.

The soldiers swept into the square around 3 a.m. and waded into a tent camp in the center where protesters had formed a human cordon to protect several army officers who had joined their demonstration in defiance of their superiors.

Ali Mustafa, a car mechanic who was guarding the “free soldiers” tent, said that he saw the army stab one of the officers with his bayonet, pointing to a section of pavement stained with blood under a small pile of garbage and food remains.

Another protester was shot dead, said Ahmed Gamal, who was there overnight. He added that he saw at least two others severely injured by live ammunition. The deaths could not be confirmed.

State television cited the Health Ministry saying just one person had been killed and 71 wounded.

The troops dragged an unknown number of protesters away, throwing them into police trucks, eyewitnesses said.

The military issued a statement afterward blaming “outlaws” for rioting and violating the country’s 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, and asserted that no one was harmed or arrested.

“The armed forces stress that they will not tolerate any acts of rioting or any act that harms the interest of the country and the people,” it said.

Black smoke rose in the sky as the sun came up in Cairo, after three vehicles, including two troop carriers, were set on fire.

The square was filled with shattered glass, stones and debris from the fighting, in a scene reminiscent of the protests in January that brought down the regime of . The glass storefront of a KFC on the square was also smashed.

“We are staging a sit-in until the field marshal is prosecuted,” said Anas Esmat, a 22-year-old university student in the square as protesters dragged debris and barbed wire to seal off the streets leading into the square.

“The people want the fall of the field marshal,” chanted protesters, in a variation on the chant that has become famous across the Middle East with protests calling for regime change. “Tantawi is Mubarak and Mubarak is Tantawi,” went another chant, explicitly equating Field Marshal Mohammed , the defense minister, with the president who once appointed him.

The clashes came hours after hundreds of thousands massed in Tahrir Square on Friday in one of the biggest protests in weeks, demanding that the military prosecute ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family for alleged corruption.

The rally was a show of the increasing impatience and mistrust that many Egyptians feel toward the military, which took over when Mubarak was forced out of office on Feb. 11. Some protesters accuse the military leadership of protecting Mubarak — a former military man himself — and more broadly, many are unclear on the army’s intentions in the country’s transition.

More than in previous protests, chants and banners Friday directly criticized the military’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Tantawi, a former Mubarak loyalist.

A number of army officers in uniform joined the protesters, some of them accusing the Supreme Council of corruption in speeches to the crowd. After dark, hundreds of protesters remained in the square, intending to camp out with the officers.

Posted at 07:28 PM ET, 04/07/2011
What Egyptian revolution?

By William J. Dobson

As everyone knows, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt could be a harsh and repressive place. A little over a year ago, in February 2010, blogger Ahmed Mustafa found this out firsthand. An engineering student from Upper Egypt, Mustafa was arrested that month because of a blog post he had written. In his post, Mustafa had criticized the Egyptian military for nepotism that he claimed occurred at the country’s military academies. For no more than this single post, Mustafa was hauled before a military court on charges of defaming the military. The charges were ultimately dropped after an international outcry, but the regime made it clear that such matters were not to be discussed.

But that was in the bad old days of Mubarak’s dictatorship. Now that Mubarak is no more and Gen. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and the Egyptian military are guiding the country toward its democratic future, such abuses of power are fortunately a thing of the past.

Sadly, no.

On March 28, a 25-year-old blogger named Maikel Nabil was arrested at his home on charges of “insulting the military” and “spreading false information.” Nabil, who has led a campaign to end Egypt’s military conscription, criticized the military on his blog and Facebook page for abusing protesters before and after the demonstrations that led to Mubarak’s ouster. He has also criticized the military for conducting forced virginity tests on the female protesters from Tahrir Square, which was first reported on this blog on March 15. For this, he could face three years in prison. His verdict is expected on Sunday.

In the weeks since Mubarak was forced from power, the military has tried hundreds of Egyptians citizens in speedy military trials that take no more than minutes to conclude. The entire process — from arrest to sentencing — can be over in a handful of hours, and activists from nongovernmental organizations in Cairo say many of those being tried are guilty of nothing more than being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is tempting to refer to the events in Egypt in February as a revolution. But, in reality, it may be too soon to use the word. A dictator was deposed. That much is true. What will follow — and whether it will amount to a revolution — remains to be seen.

Maikel Nabil understood this. He recently wrote on his blog, “The revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator but not the dictatorship.” The Egyptian military proves him right every day he remains in jail.

Muslim Democracy

About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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