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Celebrations as Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed M...

Celebrations as Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi announced Egypt’s president (Photo credit: Jonathan Rashad)

The last couple of years have seen the most extraordinary events in North Africa spilling into Egypt, Libya and then onwards into the Middle East. It has of course moved across the globe in various different guises but certainly that is where the main thrust of revolutionary action has occurred.

The battle rages on in Syria and an International political game of football is being played out with both the rebels and the Syrian Government each being funded and supported by different regimes with different agendas. This will not be solved with ease and whether the Assad Government survives or collapses will depend largely on deals made between powers outside Syria’s borders.

Egypt on the other hand was different. The Government was brought down by its own people and it happened with an extraordinary momentum. More than that, the revolution had no leader. There was no single person or no particular group for the Government to arrest or fight and thus they were unable to contain it.

What were the Egyptians railing against? Oppression, corruption and autocracy. What did they want? Freedom.

They wanted freedom from domination, freedom to choose their own leaders and freedom of speech. It was a very strong rallying cry and came from the heart of a people who had for years had to tolerate a system of Government they found oppressive.

Yet now, two years later, their newly elected President Mohammed Morsi has granted himself extraordinary powers which cannot be revoked by any authority, including the judiciary, until the new constitution has been ratified and a fresh parliamentary election held. He has in effect taken on even more power than the previous president held. More than that, despite overwhelming International condemnation, the Muslim Brotherhood are holding firm. Indeed, they have rallied their supporters who are publically supporting the President’s actions and they have come out onto the street in droves.

Why have the people done this? What has changed their opinions so much in the months since the revolution? How many of the same people who backed the revolution two years ago and were willing to risk their lives in order to do so are the same people who are now answering the rallying cry of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Freedom is frightening
As we grow up, wherever that may be and in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves, we attach ourselves to certain key pegs which in turn become the ‘anchors’ of our existence. For example our parents, our siblings, our homes, our family history, our culture, our race, our religion, and our class are obvious ones.

To feel anchored is to feel secure and yet being too anchored limits our freedom. Freedom is achieved when we release the anchors and become ourselves, free of the need to ‘fit in’ to a certain attitude and way of life. It frees us to make genuine choices. Whilst this sounds easy, for most people this is very unsettling and requires risking the very essence of what we feel makes us who we are.

In Egypt, with the revolution won and the prospect of a new ‘free’ future ahead, questions began to emerge about what that future meant. The longer it was in flux, the longer the insecurity hovered and perhaps sub-consciously, the insecure turned towards the known anchor of religion. Enter, the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, much to the surprise of the west, the Egyptian electorate turned towards a political leadership that is likely to be anything but democratic. The Brotherhoods’ credo is “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

There are those in power across the globe (not just Governments) who wish for the status quo in the Middle East to continue as is. They may publicly applaud the revolution, but their anchors for their own continued success remain hooked to a ‘no change’ scenario so make no mistake, the Muslim Brotherhood will be well supported from outside Egypt’s borders.

This is not about religion, it’s about anchors. The older we get, the less likely we are to change as there is comfort in the known, good or bad. The future therefore lies in the hands of young people and we must do our very best to help them feel less tied to their anchors than we are, to help them make sensible choices about their lives and their futures rather than feel obliged to follow certain paths simply because we their parents (and their parents before them) have chosen to do so. That way they will be freer to make wise choices, unhindered by the anchors of their past.

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