Divided Egypt

Tomorrow (Friday), we can expect a series of demonstrations - pro-Morsi/pro-Constitution and anti-Morsi/"just say No" to the Constitution.  These will occur in Alexandria and elsewhere outside Cairo, plus here - especially in Tahrir and perhaps even more so in the square outside the Presidential Palace (known here these days as the Qasr al-Ittihadiya, Federation Palace).  (See the grandeur that this used to be, before "Hosni" turned it into his private "White House.")

If last Saturday's results from round 1 of the referendum continue, it is nearly certain that round 2 (this Saturday) will confirm a "yes" vote - but not by a great majority.  The expectations are about 55-58% yes, to 45-42% no. 

So - not really a huge mandate to create an Islamist-oriented Constitution for all 85 million Egyptians!

Even without the statistics of a vote (and who knows if these are even true results? Nearly all Egyptians I speak to don't believe them), it is clear that Egyptians are divided down the middle about politics, law, and their future. 

My wife and I took a much-needed detour from all of this political uncertainty and tension and we went to the newly renovated Islamic Museum near Bab Zuwayla.  Inside, you can escape to the glories and beauties and artistic grandeur of various Islamic epochs in Egypt's history, from the late 7th through 19th Centuries (Ummayad [a bit], Abassid & Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluke, Ottoman).  And, beyond Egypt, we got to see a good amount of Persian art as well. 

Egypt will (eventually) be just fine, and may be great again.  But it has a lot of transition ahead, a lot of pain and suffering, a lot of political division and negotiation and consensus-building ahead.  Democracy may be a pretty damned good thing; but 'democratization'/democracy-building is pretty damned difficult (says the political scientist, without being overly scientific about it). 


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