Egyptian Struggle: Between Values and Desires

By Mohammad El-Sayed

Prof. Mohammad El-Sayed

Without a value system humans usually pursue their own selfish gains and desires. This realization about humanity is useful when analyzing the different stances we may take in critical situations such as  the current struggle in Egypt.  It is also essential for providing an objective framework  and for  self-assessment during this process.

Two main opposing factions have emerged during the current struggle in Egypt. These factions are referred to  by the media as the “Islamists” and  the “Liberals”. To understand the situation and objectively assess the position of each side, two criteria could be utilized. The first criterion is whether each faction has a collectively adopted  value system, and the second is each faction’s integrity as measured by the adherence to the adopted value system.

Using these two criteria and refraining from taking sides with either of the factions,  it is apparent that the Egypt’s Islamists have adopted the Islamic and  democratic value systems. It is also clear that they have truly adhered to both Islamic and democratic values. In fact, holding strongly to these values did not  only strengthen Morsi’s supporters in Egypt but also gained him more support in other parts of the Muslim world. It is enough to see Morsi’s Banner on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest Islamic symbols, to realize that by holding true to his values he is quickly becoming the international leader  for many Muslims.

Similarly, using the same two established criteria on the Egyptian “Liberals” and refraining from taking sides,  it is hard to identify a  guiding value system. Instead what has been expressed is that these liberals dislike the Islamists way of life and their desire to be governed by Islam. In the absence of a well-founded value system that is collectively  agreed  upon by at least some liberals, it would appear that the faction is guided by  likes and dislikes. This implies that personal gain and desires may be  the motivating factors for most liberals’ stances and actions.  Analyzing the stance of  Egypt’s liberals on democratic values is very easy. Democratic values, practices, and results have been openly and repeatedly rejected by Egypt’s liberals. Instead their actions have been to reinforce the status quo of the military state. It is  well-known that liberal values and views are founded on the ideas of liberty and equality with the basic principles of free election, civil rights, and freedom of the press. Therefore, applying the second criterion to assess integrity in adhering to liberal values, it could be easily  concluded  that Egyptian liberals are continuously violating liberal values,  starting with backing the abduction of  a  democratically elected president by a premeditated  military coup.  It is not difficult to infer that  these actions are not aligned with  any value system and may instead be motivated by  personal gain and desires.

Finally, due to the magnitude and the consequences of the struggle, including the daily loss of innocent lives, it essential for those of us  witnessing these events to self-assess. Should  democratic values be for all or for only a select few?  If democracy is a global human right,  shouldn’t it also be a right for those living in  Muslim nations? We,  as witnesses, are accountable for any stand we take in this struggle. Therefore, before aligning ourselves with one side or  the other, each of us must thoroughly weigh the facts.     


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