More evidence that the Arab world doesn't quite get the whole democracy/rule-of-law thing:
ZAGAZIG, Egypt -- Police barricaded polling stations and fired tear gas and rubber bullets yesterday to keep supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood from voting in the final day of parliamentary elections. At least eight persons were killed, including a 14-year-old boy.I'm no fan of the Muslim Brotherhood, but it's hard to find any good guys to root for here. One rule of thumb: "machetes" and "voting" just don't belong in the same sentence.
Supporters of the banned Brotherhood fought back, hurling stones and Molotov cocktails and cornering security forces in some towns.
Hundreds have been wounded and more than 1,000 arrested, mainly supporters of the fundamentalist Brotherhood, which -- while banned -- has fielded candidates as independents.
Government supporters armed with machetes emerged from a police armored car in this Nile Delta city and attacked supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the government's main rival in the voting.
Independent monitors and human rights groups have reported numerous irregularities, including busing of state employees to polling stations, tampering with ballot boxes and blockading of polling stations.
UPDATE: Michael J. Totten visits Big Pharaoh in Egypt and provides some sobering thoughts along the same lines. There plenty to read but here are my two favorite points:
"You’re not worried about the secret police?"And, furhter down:
"Not any more," he said. "It is a real change from last year. Last year there was no way. But it’s better now, more open. Do you know why?"
"No," I said. "Tell me."
"Because of pressure from George W. Bush."
That is the only piece of good news I have to report from Egypt.
"At some point," I said, "if you want to live in a democracy you’re going to have to accept the fact that conservative religious political parties exist. You may never like them, but they won’t always be a terrorist threat. Democracy has mellowed out the Islamists in Turkey, for example."
"Yes," he said. "But Turkey has a secular constitution. They want to enter the EU, so the Islamists are forced to play by the rules of the game. They cannot step on the freedoms that the Turkish people take for granted. The Egyptian people, though, since the time of the Pharaohs, have been a flock. They follow the shepherd."
"My biggest fear," he continued, "is that if the Muslim Brotherhood rules Egypt we will get Islamism-lite, that they won’t be quite bad enough that people will revolt against them. Take bars, for example. Most Egyptians don’t drink, so they won’t mind if alcohol is illegal. The same goes for banning books. Most Egyptians don’t read. So why should they care if books are banned? Most women wear a veil or a headscarf already, so if it becomes the law hardly anyone will resist."