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On October 18, we shall be holding a peaceful demonstration outside the Embassy of Egypt in Ottawa to protest Egypt's degrading and dehumanizing treatment of sexual minorities. Egypt has shown a lack of compassion and respect for the basic human rights of some of its most vulnerable citizens.
When talk show host David Letterman asked news anchor Scott Pelley on June 27, 2012 what happened to the "Arab Spring," the latter replied: "It's almost as if the revolution never happened."This was what Omar Kamel, an advocate for social justice and civilian rule, feared the most.
Before there was a Facebook page for everything, democracy was built on the bargaining of ideas at political party conventions. Critical discussion can't and won't take place in the streets and squares of a capital near you. It is time to realize that there is simply no app for democracy.
Freedom of speech and association are not options in a democracy -- they are the very foundation of democratic life. I am therefore deeply concerned by last week's announcement by Egyptian authorities that the state of emergency will be extended for a further two months.
In Egypt, there was a strong desire to be able to clearly declare who/what was absolutely right and who/what was absolutely wrong; there was a strong desire to be able to state what needed to be done -- in clear, concrete terms. In my mind, the complexity of facts was often, also, a tragic victim.
What stance do I take on Egypt? I can defend the killings and support the military, but my voice will change nothing on the ground. On the other hand, I can condemn the killings, guessing but not knowing, that of the 900 or more estimated dead so far, most were not armed, not terrorists, some not even Morsi supporters.
About 70 per cent of the Egyptian population is under 30 years old. If we want Egypt to change then each and every one must be a part of this change we want to see. The youth needs to be engaged in the decision making process in order for Egypt to reach stability.
Whatever Egyptians want politically, they don't want the current violence and chaos to continue or worsen, which is exactly what Sisi invited with his Wednesday speech when he called for Egyptians to return to the streets. The coming days in Egypt will be violent and unsettling to watch.
Instead of denouncing the direct democratic actions of Egyptians, perhaps the pundits and Canadian leaders should be asking themselves: how can we re-enfranchise Canadians to participate as willingly and energetically in their country as Egyptians are in theirs? Canadians blog and tweet, but we do not cover Parliament Hill with protestors. Our lives are comfy in comparison to the Egyptians, so maybe that's why we do not protest. Yet there must be a sense of powerlessness, of hopelessness even among the comfy for fewer and fewer Canadians to be going to the polls.
The fact that most governments and citizens in the west supported the cause of democracy and human rights in the countries of the Arab Spring shows that there is a growing clash of extremists rather than a clash of civilizations. There is a urgent need for leaders in the U.S., Canada and the west to demonstrate to the moderate majorities in all their countries that the extremists in their midst should not be allowed to speak for them.