A Bad Year for Freedom Across the Globe

The course of freedom and democracy in the world is an evolutionary process, though sometimes it proceeds in the wrong direction. Wines have good years and bad years. If 2013 were a wine, you’d use it to kill weeds.

democracy's chorus

Mohamed Morsi began the year as the first democratically elected president of Egypt. He ended it in a jail cell facing charges of treason, having been evicted in a military coup just 12 months after being inaugurated. When his supporters massed in protests following his overthrow, security forces killed nearly 1,000 of them.

Elsewhere in the region, the Arab Spring was a fading memory. Syria‘s Bashar al-Assad, one of the dictators who survived it, used poison gas against rebels before accepting international demands to give up his chemical arsenal. Chaos and terrorism were so prevalent in Libya that the prime minister was kidnapped by one militia and then freed by other militias.

Tunisia, where the democracy movement began, was characterized in Foreign Policy magazine as “the one place the Arab Spring hasn’t gone to hell.” Even there, unrest and division threatened disaster, which was averted when opposing parties agreed to establish a caretaker government until new elections next year.

South Africa‘s Nelson Mandela died a few months before the 20th anniversary of his country’s rebirth as a multi-racial democracy. Back then, Mandela recalled later, “South Africans from every sector had reached out across the divisions of centuries, and averted a blood-bath which most observers believed inevitable, so much so that our smooth transition was hailed widely as a miracle.”

Read more via A Bad Year for Freedom Across the Globe – Reason.com.

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