The popular uprising of the Egyptian people that forced long-serving ruler Hosni Mubarak to step down has received mixed reviews in the west. Pundits who were for the Iraq war because it might bring democracy to the people of that country are now questioning whether the people of Egypt are going to be able to govern themselves. The Muslim Brotherhood is often cited as being a potential ruling party, which would essentially turn the government of Egypt into a theocracy similar to that of Iran. Bill O’Reilly questioned President Obama on Fox News, asking whether, “The Muslim Brotherhood, a great concern to a lot of people, are they a threat to the USA”. These concerns are being voiced despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood received less than 1 per cent of the vote in a presidential straw poll, according the Washington Institute for Far East Policy.
Perhaps what pundits like O’Reilly are most afraid of is the fact that the Egyptian people would be able to determine their own destiny. The US has supported the Mubarak regime for over 30 years, and if this popular uprising hadn’t unseated him, they probably would have supported him indefinitely. Although Mubarak had a long history of quelling protest and oppressing his own people, US foreign policy regarded Egypt as a stable, friendly government within the region and gave him military aid.
While this transition towards democracy in Egypt may be uncomfortable for some in North America, we should always be careful when trying to decide what we think is best for the citizens of another nation. Arguments such as “they are unable to govern themselves” have been used successfully in the past to support colonialism and slavery. Libya is currently going through its own democratic growing pains, and Canada should be at the forefront of condemning the violence which Muammar Gaddafi has perpetrated among his own people in an effort to quell the uprising.
We in Canada have reaped the benefits of being a self-governing democratic nation. Now it is time to do all we can in helping the people of other nations to do the same.