Big Pharaoh (aka GM) is one of my favourite bloggers. I love his style and happen to agree with most of what he has to say. I've posted a comment to one of his posts regarding Mubarak's 5th presidential nomination. He was kind enough to answer me back in an entire post. Due to space limitations I prefered to respond on my blog.
Here is my response to your post:
GM I understand your concerns. I'd like to clarify a few points though.
"You are treating "liberalism" as if it is a dogma, an ideology, or a creed."
GM, liberalism is actually an ideology and it runs counter to conservatism on the political spectrum of most democracies. Its politics favour multiculturalism, freedom of speech and press, tolerance and are opposed to nationalism. Economically liberalism advocates free market and free trade while allowing limited government intervention.
I think what you mean by liberalism here is civil liberties and individual rights. Liberalism vehemently advocates civil liberties though, but the two terms aren't interchangeable. Personally I agree that civil liberterties and idividual rights should be an important part of any future egyptian constitution.
"However, Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood do not believe in the above principles even if they are pretending to believe in them today."
The Muslim Brotherhood are not as stringent as they where in the past, and judging by their active involvement with Kefaya, they seem to be willing to accept the concept of representative democracy. Contrary to popular belief though the Muslim brotherhood are not as united as they once where. Now they are more or less fragmented, with more calling for moderation and reform of religious concepts. You have to acknowledge that the key players of the Muslim Brotherhood are highly educated people who may be conservative but are not extremists. Don't get me wrong, i'm more or less a liberal myself.
"All what I am hoping for is this: Mubarak gets his fifth term then he lifts his hands off liberals so that they appear on Egypt' political scene. We will then hold free fair elections once they appear and become strong enough to compete with the Islamists."
GM, believe me, Mubarak and his cronies have no intention whatsoever of giving any breathing space, neither to the Muslim Brotherhood nor to the Liberals. He and his gang understand very well that doing so is like giving the rope to person who's bent on hanging you. Not in one nor ten terms will he change his politics. He'll continue his underhanded tactics of suppression. Besides I think the fact that Mubarak is getting his fifth term is defacto by now. We shouldn't offer him any support whatsoever though.
"Democracy is like a medicine, you take it gradually. If you took it all at once, you die."
Looking at the history of the world, the best transformations to democracy in history where radical. In our part of the world the only possible way out of tyranny is through surgery not medicine.
"You are putting the word "liberal" beside and word "islamist" as if they are too competing thoughts or ideologies."
Infact they are two competing ideologies, especially here in Egypt. However they could possibly coexist within a system of representative democracy as two parties. Mubarak wouldn't allow that though.
"What you are saying above is what the "book" says. The "book" says "people should choose", period. I do not object to that, I long for the day when Egyptians get the chance to choose their own future; however, we need to look at realities on the ground. Egypt's dictatorship literally wiped all liberals out of the political scene; it would lead to an utter disaster if we simply kicked Mubarak out and allowed a free ballot box in such an unfair political arena."
The solution here would be to reeducate the general public and advocate democracy. Movements like Kefaya are trying to do just that. No one stream of politics in egypt should be disrespected or alienated. Thanks to Nassers gang this country has no political spectrum, its about time we get one, whatever the cost. Desperate times call for desperate measrues, and judging by history only radical change can transform societies, a step by step aproach won't work here.
"Can you guarantee that there will be this second chance? Was there a second chance in Iran?"
You never can tell GM, but you should have more faith in your countrymen. Then again I think Iran is in the process of undergoing a second change again soon. Besides you have to consider the forces that are actually pushing for change in Egypt. These forces are mainly the Liberals (Ayman Nour, Saad el din Ibrahim, etc.) and Kifaya which is actually lead by a christian (Dr. George Isaac) and which is a representative of much of egypts truly independent opposition (including the MB). Kefaya actually advocates a modern representative democratic constitution and civil liberties. These are good signs GM, when compared to Iran prior to the colapse of the Shah regime. GM the english say "no pain, no gain", they also say "you can't win the lottery without buying a ticket."
It's about time we egyptian got over our fears and stop mubmling about what should be done and start doing it.
About the Asyllum thing, after 9/11 I don't think many countries would be willing to take us in anyway ;-). So lets just wait and see how things work out.