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Dictators, Protests, Revolutions, oh my!

Although every day is a new adventure in the streets of Egypt, I will attempt to summarize the current political climate as concisely as I can.

After ousting the 28-year dictator, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian people vowed never to be oppressed again by a government that does not represent the country’s needs. The voices of the Egyptian people are finally being heard as we attempt to reorganize our country into a proper democracy, but this democratic idealism does not come so easily. Mistakes are to be expected, and we are learning through trial and error.

Much like the United States, this new era of democracy is a product of civil disobedience. However, even with a newly elected government in place, living within the boundaries of the law is proving to be difficult. Trial and error is an understandable form of exploring our new-found freedom, but should we be allowed to protest the decisions we have made in a democratic fashion?

In Egypt’s first legitimate democratic presidential election, Mohamed Morsi beat Ahmed Shafik by a margin of 800,000 votes, making the vote 50.3% to 49.7%. This marginal majority is problematic since the president is not representing half of the Egyptian population.

Additionally, Morsi represents the Muslim Brotherhood, who are not as extreme as the Salafi party, but still seek to integrate religious principles into political policy. There is also a heavy Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi presence in parliament. Some feel we have moved from a dictatorship to a religious dictatorship, although this representation was elected by the people. However, though they call themselves the Muslim Brotherhood, it is important not to be misguided by the title as many of their actions and impositions are highly un-Islamic in nature.

Under Mubarak’s rule, Egypt faced the challenges of a poor economy, high unemployment, corrupt education, bad traffic, and inadequate health care. However, artistry has long flourished among us. Egypt has long been the center of cinema and literature of the Arab world, but many feel as if this expression has been limited since the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over. There is, then, a tension between liberalism and religious extremism. How do we even begin to represent such a diverse population?

The constitution is constantly being done and undone in attempt to find something that really describes the diverse Egyptian character. The Egyptian people know that they do not want the old regime, but we are still trying to figure out what we do want.

There is talk of a “second revolution” to unseat the current government. Others claim that the revolution never ended.

Although the turmoil in Egypt is ongoing, I have complete faith that Egyptian people will eventually find what they are looking for. We have come so very far and have been relentlessly brave in the face of oppression. Whatever comes our way, we have experienced the power of numbers and mastered the art of protest.

We will always have Tahrir Square–and we are not afraid to use it!

The night Mubarak stepped down. (Cairo, Egypt)

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