This is indeed a very interesting time in Egypt’s – and arguably, the entire Middle East’s – history. The notion that citizens are even ABLE to publicly voice opinion about their political, economic and social future is a significant step toward a progressive, modern democracy…one that we, my family, Middle Eastern friends and those who share in knowledge and experience within the cultures of this region, feel is worth noting (and quite frankly, worth celebrating).

The real challenge, however, is how to integrate that pro-democratic ideology into a society that has historically been sculpted by religious and military influence. The Mubarak regime was a corrupt and unproductive one, yet the Morsi regime (yes, it is a regime, once Morsi – a seemingly democratically elected President – declared his position to be unchallengable) has become a suffocating front for the Muslim Brotherhood agenda. At the very least, and for all its shortcomings and downfalls, the Mubarak regime kept the Brotherhood at bay, and religious fundamentalists were relatively kept in check. The Islamists sadly found their vocal platform in Morsi, and quickly established their newly found megaphone to impose a constrictive, oppressive zeitgeist over a people that want, by all accounts, to be free of any rule which dictates degrees of freedoms.

While by many accounts the protests were largely meant to be peaceful, former militants (mostly Morsi supporters and members of the Brotherhood) have helped escalate the violence. Granted, some protesters have perpetuated that violence as well, but that is precisely why the military (with many members reported to be largely in support of the protests) have insisted on participating in maintaining order while some sort of agreement is made between Morsi and his opposition. The line in the sand appears to have been identified as Morsi stepping down, which he’s so far refused to do.

We’re all watching to see how this plays out, but word on the street is several other candidates are already poised to fill his seat; some that had previously run against him in initial elections but lost. The argument I’m hearing from some Egyptians is, why even bother with yet another remnant of the past (these men are arguably related to the Mubarak administration)? Why not aim for a totally new (read: unaffiliated), progressive president? One who truly represents the “new” Egypt; an Egypt that values freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and a true societal movement forward?

There are still a ton of questions, and with baited breath, we’re all waiting to see what happens next for our beloved Egypt. The military indeed holds sway, but primarily due to its lack of complete dependence on religion, economics or international influence.

And so, I say this: my sincerest hope is that a genuine, long-term parliamentary democracy can be forged (and more importantly, maintained), but there has to be more than just a people who call for it; there has to be a fundamental shift in the way the entire region understands its changing role, globally and internally. Also, it would help immensely if, once a dude you don’t like is kicked out, you actually implement a plan that not only works to establish an actual, functioning democracy, but that also starts with putting a dude in office that you DO like. But alas, that part we haven’t quite managed to get right either.

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What the next 24 hours will bring = unknown. But sadly, the likely outcome = mish quayiss, “not good” in Arabic.

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