Democracy in Distress
Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
In one of her famous pieces of writing Arundhati Roy has this interesting headline: “Democracy–Where is She When She is not At Home?” She then proceeds to answer the question in her own characteristic way.
One is tempted to ask in the same vien: “Where is the Egyptian democracy when she is not running the country’s affairs?” A short and simple answer: She is in jail, held captive, incommunicado.
Naturally, the next question will be: “What are the great warriors of democracy, the United States and European Union, doing about it?” The disappointing answer is, they are helping military dictators smother democracy.
This may sound strange, but is not. Look at their past record, instead of going by their tall claims. They have consistently helped quisling regimes in the developing world which, more often than not, have been dictatorial, and thwarted democratically-elected leaders if they were independent minded.
Now, look at the record. After years of struggle, political parties close to people’s aspirations won landslide victory in Algeria’s free and fair elections in 1991. The French-backed army annulled the election, arrested political leaders and established military rule.
Turkey’s army has had a long record of thwarting democratically-elected leaders on the charge of being soft on Islam. They have toppled legally elected regimes. One prime minister was executed on mere suspicion of being a sympathiser of Islam. When Hamas emerged victorious in 2006 elections, it was boycotted by the US, Israel and European Union. And now is the turn of democratically elected Egyptian leaders to rot in jails as a US-backed army runs the show.
In the past the Western democrats have backed such anti-democratic despots as General Pinochet, General Suharto, General Zia, General Ne Win, to name a few. The last question is, what do they mean when they say “democracy”. Let us hazard a guess. Democracy is a government of the people for the people by the army. That is the US favourite: democracy at gun point. g