Suddenly we had the right to vote! Yes there was voting before the revolution but it was like going to the ballot and throwing your vote in a garbage can! Suddenly large movements that where previously repressed and even underground where amazed with the new toy they had, their own voice. For 60 years we have been denied of our right to even talk to each other about how this country should be ruled. Yes you could tell a joke about Mubarak to your friends, heck even Mubarak listened to these Jokes! But still the methodological suppression of all opposition groups meant that these groups where not only denied basic human rights they where denied something that is more important for us today, the very ability to communicate together across their ideological divide.
What we are seeing now as very harsh rhetoric and polarization of the different political/religious factions in Egypt, is more a result of our inexperience in the art of dialogue and in knowledge of each others ideologies than it is of our actual differences. I am not saying that we do not have differences and that the different camps in Egypt are not very far apart, for they are as far apart as they are elsewhere in the world, it is only that we both do not know each other well and do not know how to start knowing each other well!
The extreme polarization between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis on one side and the liberals and leftists on the other side has more to do with their suppression in the past 60 years than of their differences. It is that they need to do 60 years of dialogue in a few month and learn the art of dialogue at the same time!
This political adolescence extends to the laymen and the so called elites, people that only two years ago had no political affiliations are now branding themselves with terms like liberal or islamist without fully understanding these concepts. The very statement “I am a muslim and a liberal” has not been defined as to what it really refers to. For by very definition pure liberalism requires certain freedoms that are curtailed in Islam like the choice of sexual orientation that is now arguably accepted in the West. Egyptian liberals or the masses of them say that they do not include such in their liberal agendas, but make no mistake there are some Egyptian liberals that accept or even want to forward such rights. And so I would see that many Egyptians that brand themselves as liberals should really be branding themselves as “conservative liberals” which to me is rather amusing.
Such identity issues also exist in the Islamist camp some view the ultimate goal is to return Islamic states into a new Caliphate, while others clearly see that the way forward is in modernizing Islam or at least its assumed political structures through full and irreversible adoption many of the western democratic structures like having a parliament and seeing that it is only an extension of the Shoura principle referred to in the Holy Quran.
With time I believe Egyptians including me will learn how to be able respectfully address their differences and be able to better define these differences, in the mean time just enjoy the show and try to take it easy