Democracy in Egypt
Why the West should welcome a political upheaval in the Middle East
Reuel Marc GerechtFebruary 14, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 21
After observing the administrative practices in the realm of Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman pasha of Egypt in the early 19th century, William Edward Lane, the great Arabic lexicographer, commented:
Most of the governors of provinces and districts carry their oppression far beyond the limits to which they are authorized to proceed by the Básha [Muhammad Ali]; and even the sheikh of a village, in executing the commands of his superiors, abuses his lawful power. Bribes and the ties of relationship and marriage influence him and them, and by lessening the oppression of some, who are more able to bear it, greatly increase that of others. But the office of a sheikh of a village is far from being a sinecure. At the period when the taxes are demanded of him, he frequently receives a more severe bastinadoing than any of his inferiors; for when the population of a village does not yield the sum required, their sheikh is often beaten for their default. . . . All the fellaheen [peasants] are proud of the stripes they receive for withholding their contributions. . . . Ammianus Marcellinus gives precisely the same character to the Egyptians of his time.
The Egypt of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar El-Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak made traditional “Oriental despotism” vastly more modern and merciless. Lane’s accounts of Muhammad Ali—Egypt’s first great modernizer, not known for his kindness—and his senior officials occasionally casting a vengeful eye on excessively corrupt officials and showing mercy to their victims seem quaint today given the cruel, predatory habits of President Mubarak, his family and friends, and his security men. With the exception of Syria, where the religiously heretical (Shiite) Alawite ruling family of Bashar al-Assad oversees a ferocious police state, Mubarak’s Egypt is the most advanced dictatorship in the Arab world. A Stasi-like array of spies spans the country, but discreetly and gently watches resident foreign businessmen, the Westernized Egyptian elite, and the American University of Cairo, a once-vibrant institution founded in 1919 by Presbyterians, now intellectually withered, where Egyptian and Western academics have exercised extraordinary caution in imparting disruptive ideas or criticism of the ruling family. Mubarak and his friends discovered that an Egypt at peace with Israel could attract billions in U.S. aid, regardless of the regime’s human rights record, and billions more from tourism, whose profitability continued even when Mubarak’s police state crushed the liberal dissident and presidential candidate Ayman Nour in 2005. Only the country’s religious extremism when it turned lethally against Western tourists made a dent.
But the modern Egyptian fellaheen—the urban poor, the semi-educated youths from the country’s awful state universities, and a good slice of Egypt’s not insignificant middle class—have finally had enough. As is now well known thanks to the massive demonstrations in Tahrir Square, the country is a land of stark extremes. In Cairo, multimillion-dollar riverine apartments and lushly watered exurban golf courses built on sand look out upon an endless horizon of low-rise, nearly windowless brick apartment buildings, which are virtually uninhabitable during Egypt’s summer. These “homes” are stuffed with people who can see progress. (Cairo is a vibrant mess of a modern city.) Egypt’s acid-tongued poor can read. Sixty years of socialist-turned-capitalist dictatorship have given the Egyptian masses sufficient education to dream; it’s given the bright among the poor and the country’s growing middle class the means to aspire. Like much of the Middle East without oil, Egypt has been growing economically (around 6 percent per annum for the last five years). Using the standard set by Harvard’s late Samuel Huntington, Egypt economically is beyond the democratic “transition zone,” where a society’s complexities start to overload centralized authoritarian states and the common man’s dreams become tangible.
An upbeat analysis from someone who knows Egypt.
Thursday, February 3, 2011Front Page
Govt asked to explain failure to stop fatwa
HC gives Shariatpur admin 15 days to tell why it could not save life of 14-year-old rape victim
The High Court yesterday ordered district officials in Shariatpur to explain why they failed to protect 14-year-old rape victim Hena from being whipped to death as per a fatwa on Monday.
The deputy commissioner, the superintendent of police of Shariatpur and the thana nirbahi officer of Naria upazila -- where the incident took place--will have to report to the HC in 15 days how it happened although the court (HC) had eight months ago declared fatwa illegal and a punishable offence.
In a suo moto rule, the HC directed them also to report what steps they have taken in this regard.
An HC bench comprised of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain issued the rule following press reports on the killing of Hena.
The reports said Hena was raped by her 40-year-old relative Mahbub on Sunday. Next day, a fatwa was announced at a village arbitration that she must be given 100 lashes. She fell unconscious after nearly 80 lashes.
Fatally injured Hena was rushed to Naria health complex where she succumbed to her injuries.
Supreme Court lawyer Seema Zahur yesterday placed before the HC bench a press report on the incident on behalf of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association.
Meanwhile, another HC bench yesterday directed the law enforcement agencies to submit a report to it within three weeks on what steps have been taken following this incident in the light of its judgement on extra-judicial punishment.
The bench comprised of Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Nazrul Islam Talukder also ordered the information ministry to run a media campaign to create awareness among people against extra-judicial punishment.
The bench headed by Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain on July 8 last year delivered the verdict declaring illegal all kinds of extra-judicial punishment including those in the name of fatwa at local arbitrations.
Following three writ petitions, the court directed the authorities concerned to take punitive action against people involved in enforcing fatwa against women.
It also observed that infliction of brutal punishment including caning, whipping and beating at local salish [arbitration] by persons devoid of judicial authority constitutes violation of the constitutional rights.
Barristers Rabia Bhuiyan, Sara Hossain and Mahbub Shafique, and advocate KM Hafizul Alam, lawyers for the writ petitioners, yesterday placed the judgement to the bench following the incident involving Hena.
Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a human rights watchdog, expressed deep concern and shock yesterday at the killing of teenage rape victim Hena.
It demanded punitive action against those who enforced fatwa concerning her.
The ASK called upon the government to take effective steps to stop recurrence of such incidents.
Can this be?
This is a list of links that might be helpful.
Philosophy Bites Index
Philosophy Bites: Index
Here are links to brief audio presentations on Philosophy Bites. On the linked page, click on the POD icon to listen in your browser. To download the mp3 file to your computer, right-click on POD and Save.
For each assigned item, please write a brief summary of what you got from it in your course blog. Try to cover the main points raised in the interview. Also, be sure to list your interpretive and/or evaluative about the discussion.
I do not expect you to follow every bit of the conversation. These are abstruse topics discussed by highly educated experts. Your careful attention to these conversations will reward you greatly the more you persist in sitting in on such sessions. What I will look for in your blog is evidence of careful listening and active questioning.Peter Cave on Paradoxes77. Christopher Janaway on Nietzsche on Morality78. Anthony Appiah on Experiments in Ethics79. Roger Crisp on Virtue Ethics80. Raymond Geuss on Real Politics81. Alexander Nehamas on Friendship82. Christopher Shields on Personal Identity83. A.C. Grayling on Bombing Civilians in Wartime84. Anne Phillips on Political Representation85. Wendy Brown on Tolerance86. Don Cupitt on Non-Realism About God87. Raymond Tallis on Parmenides88. M.M. McCabe on The Paradox of Inquiry89. Chandran Kukathas on Genocide90. Kate Soper on Alternative Hedonism91. David Papineau on Scientific Realism
The ballroom dancing of the baroque era is restrained and rational. It is as far remove as can be from the dancing that results from the injunction to "let it all hang out, baby" that insinuated itself in the sixties. Here is a move from that dancing. The move is called doing a reverence, or bowing. Note that it is mutual: both partners must participate. And what they participate in is an art form where nature is constrained and restrained and forced by human will to conform to ideal patterns. A complicated reverence requires presence of mind and self-control. It cannot be performed by, say, someone in the grip of road rage.In such a move we see tradition, order, rules, restraint and training at work. Indeed, at the end of the video we hear the voice of the teacher, the dancing master of those days. Dancing was something you learned how to do, not something that was inside you automatically and merely needed a steady rhythm and a few pops to come out. It was the epitome of being civilized. The puritans could sniff at dancing but society, both high and low, enjoyed it in a good spirited way. Whether in the manor house or in the barn, the dancers, the musicians, the dancing-masters, the onlookers knew good form when they saw it. Romanticism smashed all that.
The Steady Erosion of Women’s Rights in Egypt: A Photographic Story
These photos, sent by my good friend Tareq Heggy, speak volumes about the politicization of the Islamic Veil. In the 1950s, Cairo University graduates were not veiled. By the twenty first century, the veiling of educated women was fully underway.
Class of 1959
Class of 1978
Class of 1995
Class of 2004
Republican Response to the State of the Union 2011- VIDEO analysis
The linked video shows an analyst reviewing Paul Ryan't response to the State of the Union Address by the President. Click the link to the critique. My critique of the critique:
Paul Ryan is the father of three children and the Chairman of the Congressional Budget Committee. He is no kid or gawky office manager. The analyst here is a media consultant, however, and not interested in substance at all. He is all about image. It is true that Ryan looks young.
The anlaytic tradition of our speaker goes back to the sophists by way of Machiavelli. For them, it is silly to worry about what is right or wrong. What matters is results. The sophists claimed that everything is opinion. If so, truth does not matter. Persuasion and persuasive technique do. Power is everything. In this case, I believe every individual point made is valid. This is a competent analysis. But it is what is chosen to analyse that troubles me some.
The analyst assumes that Ryan shares his professional cynicism, butconsider that Ryan was saying that if our government keeps borrowing as it is, disaster is inevitable. Disaster means deep austerity and slow growth, which translates to a lower standard of living for everyone. If he is right, his message is urgent., His style or haircut, not so much.
Thus media analysis even though correct on every point may still, by its choice of the terms of reference, end up trivializing everything. And in the process, the citizenry become merely members of a vast audience.
QUESTION TYPES BASED ON BLOOM'S TAXONOMY
From Bloom, et al., 1956
As teachers we tend to ask questions in the "knowledge" category 80% to 90% of the time. These questions are not bad, but using them all the time is. Try to utilize higher order level of questions. These questions require much more "brain power" and a more extensive and elaborate answer. Below are the six question categories as defined by Bloom.
- recalling identification and
- recall of information
- Who, what, when, where, how ...?
- translating from one medium to another;
- describing in one's own words;
- organization and selection of facts and ideas
- problem solving;
- applying information to produce some result;
- use of facts, rules and principles
- How is...an example of...?
- How is...related to...?
- Why is...significant?
- subdividing something to show how it is put together;
- finding the underlying structure of a communication;
- identifying motives;
- separation of a whole into component parts
- What are the parts or features of...?
- Classify...according to...
- How does...compare/contrast with...?
- What evidence can you list for...?
- creating a unique, original product that may be in verbal form or may be a physical object;
- combination of ideas to form a new whole
- What would you predict/infer from...?
- What ideas can you add to...?
- How would you create/design a new...?
- What might happen if you combined...?
- What solutions would you suggest for...?
- making value decisions about issues;
- resolving controversies or differences of opinion;
- development of opinions, judgements or decisions
- Do you agree...?
- What do you think about...?
- What is the most important...?
- Place the following in order of priority...
- How would you decide about...?
- What criteria would you use to assess...?
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Jerry Cerny, email@example.com