Protests this week were stronger, safer, but the symbolic divide was wider. It remains to be seen who has the momentum.
As thousands filled Tahrir Square to protest lack of social justice and an unrepresentative Islamist constitution, they introduced a uniquely Egyptian term to the English speaking world. ‘Egypt is not an ezba,’ they declared, saying the Muslim Brotherhood was treating the nation as its own private estate.
At the same time, the Brotherhood’s party – Freedom and Justice – was holding elections for party president. The winner took two-thirds of the vote over his competitor, but both celebrated the display of democratic credentials.
So which is it, God? Are protestors reactionaries who lost an electoral contest and now sing of sour grapes and malign their opponents? Or have they identified patterns of governance which exclude and deny the basic goals of the revolution?
Do Freedom and Justice Party elections signal a commitment to the rule of the people in open and transparent choice? Or was the competition theatrical disguising a choice made or manipulated by Brotherhood leadership, signaling the same for Egypt?
God, it is good these issues are before the people. Give discernment as Egypt’s political forces state their case. Refine them as they navigate the task of winning the people’s trust and favor. Reject them if their politics stray too far into propaganda.
Build Egypt in these days, God. It is now known a full quarter of the people live in poverty – and half of those in Upper Egypt. A constitution is being written which will guide the nation for years to come. And these challenges must be solved by a nascent – and some fear transitory – democracy with little political consciousness.
It is required the leaders be men of good conscience, at least until the people can catch up with them and create institutions of accountability.
Bless Egypt with these men, God. Surely they exist, and surely among them are charlatans. Bring Egypt to the right ones.
And as for the president who does exist, strengthen and encourage him. Give him wisdom to govern wisely. May all he has placed in authority serve well.