Context (again)

Posted by Mike Kaaks

23 August 2013

I keep having experiences that bring me back to this point.
I'm sure you all will have been reading about the turmoil in Egypt. What started as a liberating political event has sadly become a most violent conflict. In terms of context I want to go back to the first weeks of this change, and the issue of the role of the military. Over 30 million, yes million, people came out to protest the president, his policies, and his politics. The army stepped in, suspended the constitution, and an interim non-military government was installed. In much of the global press this was headlined as a military coup. In the context of military takeover in South America this label would be appropriate. In the context of Egypt and it's history since Gamal Abdel Nasser and the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, it is the wrong label. Since that time the military in Egypt has had an active role in the political, social, and economic framework of the country. A different context. In Egypt the military is seen, as being protectors of the people from all threats, not just attacks from outside the country.
Had the journalists gathered and interpreted the context in local terms, not by the limiting definitions of the word we use to describe things, they might have told a different story. For Egyptians (other than the Muslim Brotherhood) the head of the Army is a hero. In Egypt it is appropriate that the army will be heavily involved in creating and protecting their democratic solution. I'm not an apologist for the Egyptian Army - it just seemed too good an example of context to pass up.
As something of a disclaimer I should point out that I love Egypt, having come to know it through a number of direct family links.