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Obama must ensure Egypt moves toward democracy

The world has shifted its undivided attention to the Middle East 8212; but, for a change, west of the Sinai Peninsula, as Egypt’s military rulers have largely done what various camps of protesters have asked. They dismantled the autocratic legitimacy of former President Hosni Mubarak by dissolving parliament and putting the current constitution on hold.

The wave of protests that began Jan. 25 in Tahrir Square have largely been for democratic reform, an end to corruption, the release of political prisoners and calls for higher wages and greater human rights by a variety of camps, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other forms of social media have aided protest leaders, many of whom are the age of most TCU students, in leading a revolution without a singular voice from rooftops and hotel rooms.

In the name of security and stability, the military-backed caretaker government has promised elections and encouraged activists to form political parties to ease the transitional process. The military will cede control of the state in six months or sooner, if and when a new government is elected and a new constitution is drafted.

President Barack Obama said Friday that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day. Vice President Joe Biden also has said the U.S. stands on a core set of values.

Talk is cheap, and actions aren’t much pricier when they crash and burn, as former President Jimmy Carter proved during the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the ousting of the Shah.

The parallels between the 1979 Iranian Revolution and Egypt’s current social and political status in reality are not great, but the fear within the president’s camp should be that those revolutionary parallels could grow immensely.

Egyptians undoubtedly want this to be their moment to create a uniquely Egyptian democratic government, free from the tethers of U.S. interests and Western pandering.

Regardless of perceptions that the U.S. would be pushing Western ideology on a Muslim state, this must be a time for Obama to stand firm and guide a movement without a unified voice into an unprecedented new age of democracy.

Failure to do so only will leave room for the seeds of extremism to come to fruition amid Egypt’s economic uncertainty, high unemployment and underdevelopment.

Obama is fighting for the ears of Arabs and Muslims against reckless voices such as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who has already used Egypt and Tunisia’s revolutionary movements to spur Palestinians to rise up against Israel.

“If they are turned away by the enemy [Israel], they camped at the border,” Gaddafi said in a speech marking the birthday of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. “We must create a problem for the world to move.”

This is no time for Obama to try and find a pragmatic middle-of-the-road stance; there is little room for a Socratic method when an element of the “street” movement within Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, is inspired by the writing of such Muslim theologians as Sayyid Qutb, a proponent of terrorism and an inspirational figure to al-Qaida.

Democratic elections in Palestine brought into power a terrorist organization in Hezbollah that still will not recognize Israel as a state. A democratic Egypt must stay politically moderate and opposed to radical Islamic ideals and those who inspire violence and religious oppression.

All eyes across the world are focused on Egypt, and it is up to Obama to ensure smooth democratic transition, free from radical Islamist influence. The long-term political development of Egypt rests on what happens in the next six months.

It is Obama’s responsibility, at all costs, to ensure the seeds of democratic freedom and peace are rightly planted, or the parallels between Egypt’s revolution and Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution will undoubtedly grow.

Sports editor Ryne Sulier is a news-editorial journalism major from Plano.

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