Friday, 25 May 2012

Egypt on the brink of new revolution

You want to know about the real Arab Spring? Look at this picture, these young people, both Muslim and Christian, are those who started the revolution in Egypt in 2011, demanding dictator Mubarak to step down. However, this spontaneous, penniless, and immature movement has been hijacked by the more organized Muslim Brotherhood who stole the spot light and became the prominent candidate for the new regime. Yesterday, just a few hours after the voting box closed down, I found myself in a secret apartment in the heart of Cairo, the headquater of the youth revolution. A dozen of young activists who were working like a beehive around their laptops, updating thoudsands of twits and facebook posts, sending the results of every single voting spot, reporting to the people of Egypt every potential problem of the election:  “Yes, our revolution has been kidnapped by the Islamists!”  - admitted Ahmed – “I slept in Tahrir square, protesting for days to see a new regime with liberal and democratic mind set, not someone from Muslim Brotherhood who want the country to be back in the stone age. The only thing we can do right now is to be a keen observant to make sure this is a fair election. If the Muslim Brotherhood wins, we will have a new revolution, a real Arab Spring”. 

Nếu bạn cho rằng những gì đang diễn ra ở Trung Đông là Mùa xuân Ả Rập như ý nghĩa thực sự của nó thì có thể bạn lầm to. Khi những người Ai Cập trẻ tuổi xuống đường đòi phản đối chế độ độc tài Mubarak vào năm 2011, họ không hề biết rằng phong trào cách mạng bộc phát, thiếu cả tiền bạc lẫn tổ chức quy củ của mình nhanh chóng bị một tổ chức Hồi Giáo mang tên Muslim Brotherhood chiếm lĩnh thượng đài. Arab Spring với tư cách là cuộc nổi dậy của những người trẻ không phân biệt sắc màu tôn giáo đòi cải cách dân chủ gần như bị chết yểu. Họ trở thành kẻ dọn đường cho Muslim Brotherhood, một đối thủ không cân sức, một tổ chức tôn giáo từ lâu đã luôn là đối tượng đàn áp của chính phủ nhân cơ hội này trả thù và chiếm lĩnh chính quyền.

Đêm hôm qua, chỉ vài giờ sau khi các hòm phiếu đóng cửa, tôi tìm đến một căn hộ bí mật nằm giữa trung tâm Cairo, căn cứ của phong trào cách mạng. Hơn một chục thanh niên, cả Hồi Giáo lẫn Thiên Chúa Giáo, với điện thoại trong tay, họ tiếp nhận thông tin từ các điểm bầu cử, gửi đi hàng ngàn twits và post trên facebook. Trưởng nhóm Ahmed là một thanh niên trẻ măng, có lẽ chưa đến 21 tuổi. Cậu chỉ cho tôi kết quả của một điểm bầu cử gần Cairo nơi Mursi - ứng cử viên của Muslim Brotherhood dẫn đầu bảng phiếu: “Hồi Giáo đã bắt cóc Mùa Xuân Ả Rập. Tôi bám trụ quảng trường Tahrir biểu tình cả đêm lẫn ngày để nhìn thấy một Ai Cập với chế độ dân chủ, nhất định không phải để Muslim Brotherhood với âm mưu đưa đất nước trở về thời kỳ đồ đá. Vào giờ phút này, tất cả những gì chúng tôi có thể làm là giám sát kết quả bỏ phiếu thật chặt chẽ. Nhưng nếu Muslim Brotherhood thắng cử, chúng tôi nhất định sẽ bắt đầu một cuộc cách mạng mới”.

Tổng thống Mỹ Obama nói: “Chúng ta cần giáo dục con em mình noi gương những người Ai Cập trẻ tuổi”. Tôi dám chắc ở VN không nhà lãnh đạo nào dám nói/muốn nói câu này. Cũng dễ hiểu thôi, nhất là khi rất nhiều những bạn trẻ VN nhào lên facebook chỉ trích một con người dám nói thật như Ngọc Trinh (!) 


  1. I think there is a grave misconception about islamist & Shari’a (Islamic law) and people are thinking it is something from the stone age (one of the statement you mentioned). However, we can say the same thing about Democracy that it is something 2050 years old (do not know the exact year) which precedes the Shari’a system. It came original from the Greeks ( if I am not wrong) with their white coats and we should neither forget that Islamic rule of not being something very old, it ruled over 1400 years and the last time was 80 years ago. Therefore, actually people should not criticise something if they do not know anything about it. I can understand their opinion and how it was shaped, but we also should consider the media’s actions of describing islamist and shari’a something barbaric, old fashion, unjust to the people and not fair to women, which eventually gave them this picture but not knowing what it really stands for. It’s justice!

    Now, many would argue, how it defines justice, and this mainly depends on some aspects; 1 do they believe in God (Allah)? 2 Do they believe that the Qur’an is the word of God? 3, if Muhammad (pbuh) was his messenger (if they believe that the Quran is the word of God, automatically they would believe in Muhammad)? If the answer is yes, you cannot deny the hukum (legal ruling) of God (Allah) on how He describes to you to live, because if we take it logically, if someone invents something, for example; he makes a PC, he just makes everything of it. Doesn’t the maker knows everything of its creation and knows what the best for the PC is, (strengths and weaknesses)? I think so. So, for those people who believe in the 3 points I gave, they can’t go around it. In addition, for those people who do not belief in this is another point. I take these points because most Egyptians are Muslims and in their perceptions, they should take steps to establish Shari’a because of their beliefs since it describes in their religion to follow the laws of God (Allah). One may say, this is crazy. Why I ask? Some people have different morals, for examples; the German’s they were convinced scientifically that the Jews were ‘untermensch’ (sub-human, sub-man, something to describe inferior people). That was the belief of that time. However, this still exist that people think that something is correct what they do or not. The next question can be, what is ‘good ‘or what is ‘evil’? Some people would describe something good in their opinion, which is something evil or bad for someone else. Nevertheless, this is a totally different subject, but should be taken into consideration when taking some religious standpoints or criticising religious groups/parties/institutes.

  2. ‎Eldin Karisik26 May 2012 at 10:21

    For more information, about the three points I mentioned, here is a link, which is a debate between a Muslim and an Atheist, on the question of logically & rational existence of God and the miracles of the Quran, which give you objectives morals. Very recommended to watch to understand, why Muslims want Shari’a or why they belief what they believe and what the critics have to say about it and judge for yourself. Link:

    Moreover, it is well known what the positive effects were from the Islamic state in the history. One example is that there were no poor’s. Isn’t that one of the biggest problems in today’s society? Another is low criminality, which is actually very high in the western countries. And these are facts, this really was the case and no one can dispute that.

    Ok, someone can take the argument, from the example of Saudi Arabia or Iran. However, if we look at these countries, they are not ruled with sharia or partly and not completely. One example is, interest is forbidden in Islam, but this exists in both countries and there are many examples’ refuting this argument. We can clearly say, Islamic countries do not exist, only Muslims countries where Shari’a is not implemented or partly. One should keep in mind that I gave just very few positive effects from Sharia, because there are more.

    To conclude, people with this misconception are just misinformed, ignored and most likely influenced by the media, which led to bad upbringing.

    Ps. I am neither for the Muslim brotherhood nor against it, but neutral. This partly depends on how they will negotiate with other parties and if they would compromise some, Islamic believes (laws) for just being into power or not.

    I hope you do not take this as an assault from my side, but just at another perspective, because I really think you are doing a great job of travelling in the middle east and you should keep it up!

    Embryology in the Quran [God: Fairytale or Truth? - Debate: Dr Lars Gule vs. Hamza Tzortzis]
    Full Debate - God: Fairytale or Truth? Dr.

    1. ‎Eldin Karisik Well i actually agree with you. The information given in this post was from the point of view of these Egyptian people. They perceive Muslim Brotherhood's propaganda as bringing back old practice. Sharia (law) or Islam can be interpreted or applied in so many different ways, good or bad, modern or conservative, practical or impractical. So, it is kind of misleading to criticize Islam or Sharia all together, it is much better to focus on the application that is brought to life by different people.

    2. ‎Eldin Karisik P/S and please open your mind to other parts of the world as well. Many Asian and Latin American countries are not following Islamic values and still they have low rate of crimes and all other good stuff. Thus, one can not say that Islam is the only way to have a good society. Islam, as well as many other ideologies, are a concept of how to achieve desired goals. Different cultures have different ways to perceive an ideology and make it work in different ways. All over the worlds, regardless of what religion that dominates, we have variables of crimes, human right, education levels...etc. There is no consistent (up to date) of variable that can be attributed to the cause of religion. That is to say, for example, there is no consistent research data that can prove that low crime can be attributed to Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam, because we find low and high crime in both societies that follow and NOT follow a certain religion. Please note that in many cases, the problems we have in the society is a SOCIAL problem, nothing to do with religious or not.

  3. hmmm, Eldin Karisik... so you were my CCA student. Then it is easy to see all this with Onion model (Hofstede) (Gert Jan Hofstede). Hope you listened well in my class :)) i.e. the practice can change while values (in this case, islamic values of gender equality, social care, peace, respect...etc) stay the same. People may see how to apply these values in different forms of practice (ritual, heroes, symbols...ect). Then we can easily see why Saudi applies Islam in a totally different way than Turkish or Egyptian islam. I am glad you seem to get this. About the religion as the attribute to explain morality in a society. Good try to think that it is difficult to find countries that entirely clings to one religion. However, as a researcher my self, i can confidently share with you that there have been zillions of research on this field. They dont take countries, for the reason you have found out, but they take communities, large communities as pools of participants. The last study involves Islamic Indonesian, Buddhist Thai, Hindustan southern India, and Christian Korean. All of them Asian, all of them claim the religion to be official belief, and all the pools statistically have more than 90% of the population declare to be active practitioners. Well, i have not heard of the result, but i can be almost 100% sure that belief (or religion) will be ruled out as the consistent factor that can explain the variety between these societies. It is again very likely that economical stand, tradition, and educational level that will contribute and explain at least 60% of the variables. Listen Eldin, since you have a keen interest in the issue, why dont you take a serious research class at HES and go on to have your own study? You may need to move to Master level with this, but it can be fun. I can be your supervisor if you like. It is much better to look at it from academic point of view. Anyway, all best with your study (if you are still at HES). Mai.

  4. Gert Jan Hofstede26 May 2012 at 10:25

    What about culture as an explanatory variable Mai? Culture, as the current result of a myriad historical coincidences that can not be directly measured.

    1. Of course it is. One of the many important causes. It explains the second level of variables (The three layers of the Pyramid model in your book). The last layer (Universal) can be used to explain other issues too, albeit at a more basic level. That is to say, for example, a weak economy will be likely to cause gender inequality in basically all cultures (Universal layer). However, when all things are equal, i.e when economy is ruled out, Femininity -oriented culture will be more likely to have more gender equality than Masculinity cultures (Cultural level). It is amazing how this model can be powerful to explain thing, obviously one of my favorite. Too bad many of our readers only focus on the cultural dimensions of your book and seem to neglect this model and the Onion model

  5. However, Islam has its guidelines on how to handle political affairs, wars, economic issues, social issues, family issues etc, from the Quran and the Sunnah (the way of the prophet Muhammad) on how to apply it. Therefore, we know that there are guidelines and things that are forbidden which are clear and yes, there can be some different opinions in certain areas, but the majority on Islamic law, the scholars agree upon (the 4 mehdeb school of thought, Maliki, shafi, hanafi, hanabil). Moreover, some practices, therefore, needs to be consistent if you want to count them as Islamic societies or communities. Therefore, it is clear that such communities do not exist, because the Islamic system is not implemented, which is a requirement for an Islamic society. I do not want to speak about other religion, because I may represent them wrongly, that is not my intention, and therefore I will focus more on the Islamic belief

    In addition, many people suggest there are so many different interpretations, or thoughts that it makes applying the sharia very difficult or not perfect or may even misinterpret laws. One should be open-minded and say the same to secular liberalism; my question is how many schools of thought re are there for liberalism? I think it was around 14. Here in Islam we have just 4 and in the past it worked very well and yes I agree, sharia cannot be implemented perfectly, but one should also keep in mind that it is neither necessary to be perfect, but to try their best to be perfect and this is requested from the Islamic belief, to try their best. I hope, I have explained the differences and the reason why, but this subject can be expanded broader into history, for example.

    Another point, about your study, you are correct there is no religion, which manifests itself totally with a country, and yes, the majority can be Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and still not being a consistent factor that explains variety between societies. However, I think you miss one point. The researchers you mentioned on taking communities for their research instead of countries is mainly because there are no religious countries in totality currently, which is led by it (meaning it controls state affairs). This should be clear. However, knowing, that most religion do not want to control the state or want to have power over the state. The difference in Islam is that it contains a system as secularism or liberalism, which requires state power. Therefore, as we know that certain state systems such as secularism, capitalism, communism, can influence on morality in the society, Islam is capable of doing it as well, if its functions within the system of control. Here I just differentiate with other religion and Islam, because they have different roles in society, other religion are more privet to their home or within the communities, but Islam functions within the state level, which it did for 1300 years. The reason why and how, is another subject to discuss, maybe for another time:p.

    Your suggestions on to take a serious research class, doesn’t sound bad and perhaps I’m planning to do so, but first I need to finish my current study and I would be happy if you would supervise me one day.

    Ps. One more thing, as a mentioned I’m not an academic maybe in the future, my comments are just a way of expressing a standpoint and to get some feedback from you since you know more about the cultural aspects than I do and maybe I can take them into consideration for explaining the world more better on why things happen.

  6. Daniel Arias de Oliva26 May 2012 at 10:29

    Good info... Please follow Mexico news about awake of students about control Media and next elections... Follow #yoSoy132 movement and hope this is the beggining of a Mexican Spring...


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