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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Cautiously optimistic.

Apart from a couple of short comments elsewhere I've avoided talking about the Tunisian and Egyptian protests, and now those in Yemen and Algeria too, for the simple reason that we don't yet know how the story's going to end. Yes, people are rising up and demanding an end to the corrupt and authoritarian regimes they've been forced to live under, and I'd agree that that's no bad thing at all. Good for them, I say, and like everyone else I hope they get the country they wish. But what if what they wish for turns out to be a theocratic state that holds women to be second class citizens, homosexuals to be sinners and apostates to be unworthy of living? What if what they want is actually not freedom but a different set of rules? We can hardly say no, it's either our way or you've got to have your Mubaraks and Ben Alis and Salehs back, but equally it's not something we could exactly get too jubilant over either. I'm not predicting a repeat of Iran in 1979 - I don't know anything like enough about the area and its politics to make predictions - but I'm just saying that swapping the rule of an autocrat for that of an authoritarian republic isn't unprecedented.

So until things settle down and we get a clearer idea of whether the protests will achieve their aim and what replaces those regimes that fall I'm going to wait and see. However, I feel this is probably a cause for a certain amount of cautious optimism.

 - Telegraph video clip removed due to annoying habit of autoplay - see link above instead - 

"We're not Muslim Brotherhood ... we are Egpytian"
And I think that, from a calm, smiling man talking about freedom, is a promising sign. Providing he and those like him don't accidentally create a power vacuum that lets in something like the Muslim Brotherhood - which is perhaps a danger when demanding the end of something hated rather than the beginning of something desired - then they might get what they want. Who knows, maybe they could even end up with more freedom than some places in the West that are quick to lecture others about democracy while not giving their own citizens a say.

Actually I hope it does turn out that way. I've got this mental picture forming - EU wide protests against the President, the Commission and the rump parliaments of their satellites, while leaders in free republics such as Egypt and Tunisia call for Europe to adopt democracy. You have to admit the irony would be pretty funny.
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