We talked before about how many in the newly emerging Egypt have said no to US funds because they see such money as a way to negatively influence their burgeoning “new” democracy. It’s not that these Egyptians don’t like America, what’s not to like about America the leader of the free world, it’s just that they want to define their social movements and institutions and not have that done for them by others.
“There are development partners that have for some time now been pushing the democracy and human rights agenda,” said Talaat Abdel Malek, an advisor to the Ministry of International Cooperation, which overseas foreign aid. “And I understand that and I understand the need for it, but there comes a point when there is something that is called national sovereignty that has to be respected.”
Every nook and cranny of Egyptian society, except for the marxists, has called for a democratic Egypt so their reasoning goes, there is no need to make that such a strong push by outside forces. There are even some in Egypt who sound like today’s American GOP
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is campaigning for September’s parliamentary elections on a platform to trim the country’s budget deficit.
“It’s always better for any country to build on the basis of investment and not loans,” Khairat el-Shater, 61, deputy leader of the Brotherhood, said in an interview in Cairo.
“A lot of investors have been very nervous of the prospects of a government with a strong Brotherhood representation,” said Elijah Zarwan, a Cairo-based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group research group. “The Brotherhood is aware of this and they are trying to reassure foreign investors by saying ‘look, we are businessmen, we are business owners and professionals.’” The Brotherhood is also proposing to cut spending, sell state-run media, link subsidies to job creation and slow inflation.
All of the above sounds like talking points for any candidate running for office in America. To further underscore the convergence of American ideals with a surfacing Egyptian “democracy” explained in its own terms comes this
The rector of what is arguably the world’s oldest university, a bastion of Sunni scholarship with international influence, has come out in favour of a modern, democratic, constitutional Egyptian state…Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the grand sheik of Al-Azhar University in Cairo denies that Islam permits a “priesthood state” – an implied criticism of Iran. (The Al-Azhar) document is not apolitical, however; it endorses the separation of powers and equal rights for all citizens…it says that the principles of sharia should be the basic source of law. But at least this is not new; since 1981, the Constitution of Egypt, under an ostensibly secularist regime on the Kemal Ataturk model, has a clause saying the same thing. For some reason, perhaps in an attempt to compete with the Muslim Brotherhood, Anwar Sadat added a mild version of this clause in 1971; Hosni Mubarak took it further in 1981.
The Al-Azhar document is, however, based on the work of a broad range of scholars and activists, including Coptic Christians, several of whom signed it. The paper says that Christians and Jews should be free to govern their own lives with guidance from their own authorities.
With such proclamations coming from a post Mubarak Egypt, what could only be construed as assurances to the West that embrace Western concepts of governance, rights and responsibilities, it’s easy for this observer to understand the unease Egyptians have with continued attempts of foreign institutions and governments to change the course of Egyptian “democracy” into something else. By not accepting funds, Egyptians seem to be saying while they like what we stand for, they don’t want us telling them how to do it themselves. In America’s present state of budget deficits, lost and or stolen money and calls for more austerity on the backs of the poor and middle class, ordinarily one would welcome such a friend who says thanks but no thanks to offers that neither help them or us. We should do more to encourage such friendship among our international allies.