It is not only in Greece that the parlamentary system is under stress. In Egypt, the Medievally minded and dangerously authoritarian Muslim Brotherhood are making progress. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood candidate does not win this weekend’s presidential election, the fiercely islamist movement will hold on to its dominant control over the national legislature and use it as a platform to build for a future push into complete political dominance. This would of course turn the so called Arab Spring into a nuclear winter for those who struggle for liberty in the Middle East.
In recognition of what is at stake, let me quote the following very powerful lines from a poem by Ghada al-Samman (my own, entirely unauthorized translation):
If you come to my home, bring a black pen because I want to draw a black cross over my face so they cannot put me in a cage because of my beauty; Bring an eraser so I can erase my red lips, I don’t want anyone to darken my life because of my red lips; Give me a shovel so I can remove my female attributes, because then it will be easier for me to get to Paradise; … Give me a needle and thread so I can tie down my tongue, because then I cannot cry so loudly anymore; Give me a pair of scissors because I want to censor my thoughts; Don’t forget to bring detergent, I want to wash my brain and hang it out to dry. I want the wind to take my thoughts and dreams; … Please, if you see someone who sells rights, buy some for me. I will mix them in my food and eat them before someone else eats up my rights; And if you have some money, buy a sign like a necklace so I can hang it around my neck and write with big words: I AM A HUMAN BEING!
Don’t let the sunny euphoria over the Arab Spring turn into dark silence as Islamists replace tyranny with tyranny. Liberty is for all mankind, regardless of where and who you are.