Linda S. Heard
Published — Tuesday 3 June 2014
SO-called freedom activists are beating their chests over the landslide victory of Field Marshall Abdel-Fatah El-Sissi, set to be inaugurated as Egypt’s new president next week. And they perceive the Libyan people’s backing of Gen. Khalifa Hiftar’s anti-militia onslaught as a step back from their revolutionary goals. The idea of strongmen prioritizing stability over individual freedoms is anathema to many, but the stark truth is that western-style democracy cannot flourish amid a climate of violence.
The misbehavior of the few has had a negative impact on the majority and now ordinary people in Libya and Egypt just want to get on with their lives. Many who sought democracy now equate it with anarchy, a sad truth that is incontestable among ordinary working people and owners of small businesses, experiencing pain in their pockets. They’ve rightly or wrongly concluded that there’s no democracy without stability.
That’s glaringly true in Libya that’s become awash with heavy weapons, feuding militias and foreign militants. Almost every household has a gun for self-defense. That was not how Libyans imagined their country post-revolution. They didn’t go to the streets calling for the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in order to get a lawless land reminiscent of the Wild West or an impotent government unable to keep them safe or even to gain control over Libya’s main economic resource — oil and gas. And Egyptians didn’t topple Mubarak to get serial protests, growing joblessness or unsafe streets prompting the flight of investors and tourists.