By Arab News
By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
LAST week, the Egyptian former President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison. Protesters crowded Tahrir Square to denounce the verdict. Egyptians are still divided on the verdict. Some Egyptians wanted harsher verdict and some wanted an acquittal.
So, what do the Egyptians want and why don’t they forget the past and build a better future? Why can’t the Egyptians bring back the glories of old Egypt? Isn’t Egypt the birthplace of the most advanced civilization?
The most complicated historical enigmas were the design of the pyramids and preserving the mummies.
And Egyptians and outsiders were able to solve these mysterious puzzles. But they failed to read the minds of the Tahrir Square demonstrators. And there are always questions from the outside world… Do the Egyptians want dictatorship or democracy? And do they want to rule themselves or want to be ruled?
And is there an end to the Egyptian Spring?
Egypt’s Arab Spring began on Jan. 25, 2011. One month later I happened to be watching an Egyptian classic movie. The movie was made in 1930, titled Zaynab, but one day later an Egyptian friend, who had been in the Kingdom for 35 years, told me that the first Egyptian silent movie was produced in 1896 (Tutankhamen).
So, Egypt was producing short movies in 1896 when most of the world was asleep. When Egypt produced the first film, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Alaska were not even American states. The Native American Apache leader Geronimo was still alive. Egypt was so advanced even in sports that in 1934 it had won the World Cup, 16 years ahead of England’s qualification in 1950. Egypt produced its first movie at a time when no Arab or Middle East country existed. Egypt was light years ahead. So, what went wrong in Egypt?
Egyptian civilizations were the most advanced in science, astronomy and agriculture. But there is little known secret about Egypt. Egypt and Egyptians are always more stable, prosperous and advanced when they are under the rule of foreign powers. It was under Mamluks, Ottoman, French and the British.
When they were under the Mamluks, they ruled the area. And when Egypt was under the Ottomans, they built modern Egypt with state of the art infrastructure at the time. Egypt had more influence on world affairs than what many people think. In 1861, Egypt was the most stable and most prosperous country in the world. Historians say that it was the Egyptian cotton, which had a big influence on the course of the American civil war. The cotton from American southern states was replaced with Egyptian cotton in world markets. And with the quality and quantity of the Egyptian cotton production, the British set an eye on invading Egypt.
So, Egypt had an impact on shaping the world superpower, the US. During the French rule, Egypt was the center of science and stability in the world. And many Jews, Greeks and other nationalities came to Egypt for the advanced education and health care. The French-made Statue of Liberty was supposed to be shipped to Egypt not New York. And during the French presence in Egypt after it was invaded by Napoleon, Cairo became the capital of the printing industry. And when the British took over, Egypt saw the most advanced railway system and the best education system in the world. At the time when the Egyptians were having the most advanced printing industry in the beginning of the nineteenth century, most countries in the world had no formal education system. In the past, Egyptian teachers, scientists, doctors and administrators were sent to every Arab and African country to help them build their country. It was Egypt that had an advanced industrial technology in the area.
Historians say, the clock stopped in Egypt in 1952. There was a coup against the monarchy. King Farouk was sent into exile. But, the irony of replacing the monarch was that, the presidents of Egypt became rulers for life and ruled in a dictatorship fashion more than the monarch. And some of them ruled Egypt longer than the monarchs they replaced. Maj. Gen. Muhammad Naguib was replaced 2 years after the 1952 coup. Army Major Jamal Abdul Nasser took over and ruled Egypt till he died in 1970 after losing every unnecessary war. President Anwar Sadat (1970-1981) was assassinated. And later he was replaced by Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt from 1981 until he was removed 30 years later. But, why did Hosni Mubarak continue to be the president of the largest Arab country and supposedly a democratic republic with an elected Parliament? The answer is, it is the Egyptian people who kept re-electing him and wanted him to be the ruler. And those same people ended up putting him on trial. So, how can a fighter pilot who defended his country and became the top air force man and later on the commander in chief end up in a prison uniform at the age of 83 when he wore the flight suite at the age of 23? Who is at fault? Is it Hosni Mubarak, the system or the Egyptian masses who voted for him?
The Egyptians are at a stage where they have to put their differences aside. Egypt was the best example in the area for being known as a melting pot. You can see Mosques, Churches and Synagogues side by side. In Egypt, you can be taught by a Muslim teacher, treated by a Coptic Christian doctor and buy goods from a Jewish merchant.
Egypt is a country with more than 80 million people. And have the Nile, Suez Canal, fertile land, industrial capability and educated people. Egyptians must settle down and forget the past and concentrate on utilizing their capabilities to build a better Egypt. Riots at Tahrir Square will not put food on the Egyptian tables.