Letter from Cairo
Cairo Journal: After the revolution, now the hard work begins
Editor's note: Native Houstonian Victoria Harper is a Cairo-based consultant and writer who files period reports from the scene of the ever-changing situation in Egypt. This is her latest letter.
Egypt is conspicuously absent from the news these days. Who wants to watch the blossoming of a new consciousness in Egypt when you can watch a ranting lunatic massacring his people in Libya?
Our transition from a fear-based kleptocracy to a person-centered democracy is coming along. Not exactly in the way that some would like (some, meaning me), but messy and roundabout with a few misses before hitting the target.
Not only is that to be expected, but it's the way that building something new works, especially when aiming for some sort of consensus among people who never had the change to choose before. Quicker and clearer to just dictate and control, right?
So of course I understand why it was easier for the West to look the other way while the regime was making off with the family jewels. Transitioning to democracy is hard! Good hard. No one I know resents the daunting work and most are focussing on what there is to do now, not obsessing about what was done to them.
There are still plenty of legitimate fears. Here are some of the big ones going around now:
- The army could fumble through this transition period and accidentally or purposefully leave much of the former oligarchy in tact.
- Mubarak and his cronies are still in the country and with their vast wealth could hire BlackWater-type militias to cause trouble.
- The thugs and the secret police that worked for the ruling party have ties to the underworld, a violent mafia of drugs and arms dealing. Once the police and intelligence are cleaned up, those criminals will have to find another way to operate.
Some also fear an Islamist takeover, probably because it has been banged into their heads for so long that the only alternative to Mubarak was fundamental Islam!
Which brings me to Tuesday's news that the moderate branch of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, called el Wasat el Gedid, or "the New Middle," was allowed to register as a political party. Regardless of their "true intentions" (whatever that means), I was pleased to read that they have women and Christians in their leadership structure.
Egyptians brought down the regime to gain more freedom, not less. And they've seen what happened to Iran. No one wants to go there.
Still much positivity and confidence coursing through our veins and sharing these feelings of joy and hope with people on such a massive scale is totally invigorating! At the same time, many are experiencing fear from the dissolution of their sturdy, dependable traumatic bond.
We believe that those fears will lessen as new freedoms, institutions and educational campaigns begin to gel and prove there is a healthier way to depend on one's leaders.
Victoria Harper's previous letters from Cairo: