The 10th -12th century period was a golden era in Egyptian history when the Fatemi Imams ruled the Levant region. The rule of law, religious freedom, tremendous infra structural development and phenomenal economic growth prevailed in abundance in the Land of the Nile at the time.
Today’s Egypt cannot be compared with the exemplary Fatemi era per se. But it certainly can learn from it that, with good governance follows a mature civil society.
The present Egyptian scenario of governance, if not enviable, isn’t hopeless as many unjustly percept.
Even though there is an urgent need to draft an enlightened constitution and form a government with wide legislative powers without ruffling too many political and military feathers, the first freely elected President Mohamed Morsi has for now, earned a window of hope for the people of Egypt and the international community.
The worrisome fact remains that the leadership of the largest Arab state faces a litany of challenges that looms overwhelming over it. A tremendous amount of political maturity would be required to unshackle himself and his government from the shadows of suspicion of nearly half of the voters who chose his main opponent, Ahmed Shafiq over him.
The US educated engineer Morsi stands to win all or lose all depending on how successfully he negotiates with the military that diluted crucial powers of the President Office just before the presidential election results were declared. He has started off well by his tactical acceptance in taking the presidential oath at the Supreme Constitutional Court rather than in Parliament that was abruptly dissolved by the army last week. Morsi understandably is in desperate need for the support of both the military as well as of the largest cadre-based party in Egypt, The Muslim Brotherhood that has the clout to organize huge, sustained demonstrations to keep up the pressure on the army.
On the one hand, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces is aware of the negative public mood against the army and the possibility of losing billions of dollars in military aid from the US and Western donors. On the other hand, The Muslim Brotherhood ideologues understand that winning half the vote on a turnout of half the electorate is not a sweeping mandate for regression. Hence, at this juncture, reasonable consensus and conciliatory measures between the pyramid of powers- the Parliament, Military and The Brotherhood is the only way out to deliver the long awaited social justice, economic growth and religious tolerance to the deserving Egyptian populace.
An interesting observance is, some political analysts unjustly speculate Egypt to go into a socio- political wilderness just as its fellow Arab states- Iran and Saudi Arabia under a leader who is supported by a similar far-rightist political entity like The Brotherhood. The ipso facto however is, Egypt unlike these two ultra-conservative nations, neither has the rich resources of oil to blackmail international markets nor is it ambitious in pursuing for nuclear energy to hold regional nations at ransom.
Seemingly, the writing is clearly on the wall for The Muslim Brotherhood to read that its core support in the recent Jasmine revolt was from young professionals, upcoming entrepreneurs and workers looking forward to a vibrant, inclusive and liberal government. To breach their trust would be an irreparable political blunder.
On a larger canvas, the world community has high expectations from post-Arab Spring Egypt to be lead by a truly representative President upholding the civil rights and religious liberty of all sections of its population-including women, the minuscule sects of Shi’a Muslims and the sizeable Coptic Christian minority.
Moreover, having been a regional power to reckon with in the past decades, the Morsi administration has to burn much midnight oil to foster a balance in preserving its relations with problem States like Israel, Palestine and Iran while it endeavours for the much needed political goodwill and diplomatic deference amongst the present 21 members of the League of Arab States.
Apparently, it is these crucial domestic and foreign factors that will largely determine whether the Arab world’s first civilian elected President of Egypt remains a mere figurehead or a respected pan Arab leader.
(The author is a Mumbai based socio-political commentator. This article has his own views.)