Thursday, August 4, 2011

A More Visible Egypt

Having seen the secularist, modernist elements rise up in Egypt during the so-called Arab Spring, I watched with fascination as vast throngs of what the New York Times labeled Islamists filled Tahrir Square on July 29. This was a demonstration by the religious majority, estimated to account for between 80 and 90 percent of the population. Most of the rest are Coptic Christians. In the Nixon days this would have been called the silent majority. If the “spring” actually produces genuine democracy in Egypt, it is reasonable to anticipate a governing structure strongly reflecting the views of this majority—who favor Sharia law much more than libertarian secularist forms.

All through my life Egypt was more or less invisible thanks to its probably defensive self-alignment with the West. You would behave that way if little upstarts like Napoleon invaded you from time to time and made themselves Big. Another way to read the Arab Spring is to read it as Winter in the West. The Euro-American culture is in decline. Therefore Egypt has become more visible now. This land became a unified state, hold on now, in 3100 BC. It has 80 million people. It must be enormously diverse. It is damnably difficult to picture to ourselves, in anything like rich detail, the genuine reality of other cultures. When they become visible, they always surprise us. Iran? We see a mullah with a long grey beard, his head wrapped in a vast shawl. Read Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi) as a corrective. And so on. Egypt? Tourists standing by camels while in the near distance a pyramid throws its shadow…

1 comment:

  1. Daily pictures:

    http://cairogizadailyphoto.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete