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Pendapat / Opinion

When democracy is a double-edged sword

Sometimes democracy works in very funny ways. I recently observed this first hand in Cairo, Egypt, where a revolution recently ousted a dictatorship.

Everyone is familiar with the Arab Spring and one of the countries that played a big role in it is Egypt, where I currently am shooting a documentary for Astro Awani.

Tahrir Square, in the heart of Cairo, was where the entire Egypt gathered after they were all tired of the dictator Hosni Mubarak and decided to bring him down.

A country that was suppressed for years suddenly took matters into their own hands and turned themselves into a democracy.

Now they have a new government that they chose themselves through democratic elections. A government led by a Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Morsi.

And so on the first day that I arrived in the city, I immediately headed to the iconic square (which I surprisingly find out isn’t square at all… it’s really a roundabout!).

A crowd of about 300 people had gathered on a street off the square and were obviously demonstrating against something.

They started to get quite violent, throwing rocks and what looked liked Molotov cocktails into a school that had been taken over by the police.

I asked around to find out what the demonstration was about and why people were so angry after recently turning democratic.

Apparently, they were angry because they claimed that the police had accidentally killed a boy with a tear gas canister during a demonstration the day before.

I observed that the crowd was concentrated at the entrance of the cordoned-off school, while the rest of Egypt walked nonchalantly along minding their own lives.

I chatted with more Egyptians in Tahrir Square and what I found out was that ever since the revolution, the square has hosted a demonstration almost every day.

It happens so often that the attention given to such activities has slowly started to fizzle out and, basically, no attention is given anymore.

Egyptians, after decades of being forced to be silent, have suddenly become so vocal that they feel they need to start a “revolution” over everything.

This can be a blessing and it can also be a curse. What happens when a society becomes so vocal that it drowns out everything and people start becoming immune to the noise?

If a demonstration happens all of a sudden in a country, of course, everyone pays attention. What happens when it becomes a daily affair? People lose interest.

And this is exactly what is happening in Egypt. People are demonstrating against the authorities and a new government that they feel is not doing enough.

And what are the authorities and government doing? They are just ignoring the demonstrators and continuing as they were.

The demonstration that first day I was in Tahrir Square was a good example. The crowd was screaming loudly and throwing rocks and trying to set the school on fire.

The police? They didn’t even come out of the school. They stayed behind the walls and, once in a while, would throw some rocks back at the demonstrators.

This went on for a few hours and then even I started to lose interest and walked away with my translator to get a shawerma to fill our hungry stomachs.

So what happens now? Democracy becomes too rampant that it becomes a threat to itself? Funny isn’t it? But you know what? I really think it’s okay.

In my honest opinion, Egypt is on the right path. Demonstrations, no matter how petty the motives are, will always be allowed now that the new government is in power.

The Egyptians’ emotions are still pretty riled up after their revolution and they just need to calm down and get their thoughts together over their newfound freedom.

Once they do that and start maturing, they will know how to pick their battles and what should be demonstrated and voiced out against.

It’s better to be in a situation where you can voice out over anything and when an issue is big enough and gets enough attention by the people, it will speak for itself.-tmi-The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.


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Paparan Berita, Pendapat, Rakaman Fakta, Gossip - Politik dan Sosial


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