Egypt dissolves Parliament, democracy takes a hit
A day before the presidential runoff election, Egypt's high court dissolved Parliament. This is a tough blow to the democratic government that sprung up after last year's toppling of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. These newborn democracies are more fragile than a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture.
The democratic activists responsible for the uprising were already disgusted by the runoff candidates, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak's former prime minister Ahmed Shafik.
According to The New York Times story, the court's decision sets up a situation in which the new president would take office without a constitution to define the office's powers or duties. The ruling was made by Mubarak-appointed judges on the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. (Hat tip: Yeats.)
From our perch, we're predisposed to assume all revolutions turn out like the American one. I usually think first of the French Revolution and the overthrow of the Chinese emperor. When I was growing up, my father used to take me to visit the Sun Yat-Sen status in L.A.'s Chinatown. Sun was a Chinese revolutionary and the first president of China after thousands of years of dynastic rule. The country later fell back into turmoil, and the Communists eventually rose to run the country.
A few years ago, my family and I toured Guilin in China with a large group of Sun's descendants who lived in the U.S. Sun was born in Zhongshan, the same village that my mother's family is originally from and they were celebrating the opening of a museum.
My parents were under the impression it was going to be like traveling with the Kennedys; the reality was more like traveling with the Carters. (Which sounds like a reality show for OWN. ) There was zero interaction with the Chinese government and no fanfare other than the museum ceremony.
Most of Sun's family spoke less Chinese than my parents and me — understandable, since they had emigrated to the U.S. in an earlier generation. We spent that week on a tour bus with the Suns, stopping for bad meals and visits to the many karsts of Guilin. On a night cruise, we watched fisherman on small rafts catch fish as they had done for centuries. They sent cormorants with rings around their necks to dive for fish, then pulled them out of the fish's throat when the bird resurfaced. One of Sun's descendants discovered the boat operator was tossing dead fish into the water at the front of the boat for the birds to catch.
I hope the descendants of Egypt's democracy leaders do not end up growing up in another country, and returning to Egypt to visit the Great Pyramids on a tour bus in 2112. A free Egypt would be a greater thing to behold.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
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