He let his people go

21st century pharaoh may have unleashed freedom in the land

It happened exactly 32 years after the fall of the shah in Iran. But the Egyptian people's removal of President Hosni Mubarak Friday seems worlds apart.

Whereas the Iranians traded one tyranny for another, it appears our Egyptian friends are on a much more promising path to freedom.

We hope and pray that when the euphoria wears off and they catch up on their sleep that the Egyptian people can keep their country headed for the democratic republic the protesters seemed to want.

The stark truth is that this mostly -- amazingly -- peaceful revolution will either be very good or very bad, not just for the Egyptian people but most likely for many others in the Mideast, Arab and Israeli alike.

The key will be whether the Egyptians can hold it together long enough -- and keep the radical Muslim Brotherhood at bay well enough -- to create a secular government that respects their liberty and the liberty of others. A theocracy cannot hold sway over a free people; the two are so incompatible as to be mutually exclusive.

Of course, our worst fears are that an Islamic government will fill Mubarak's void. That cannot be good for the Egyptian people, or for U.S. interests -- or for peace in the Mideast.

But the alternative could be very, very good. Just consider the magnitude of a free Egypt, led by a secular government -- and all the implications for continued peace with Israel and a stability born of choice, not coercion.

And consider Iran -- where today a terrorist theocracy that, not too long ago, violently put down a popular uprising is now crowing about victory in Egypt. Really? The terrorcrats in Tehran better be careful what they wish for: If the Egyptian people come out of this freer and without a stultifying Islamic collar around their necks -- and we realize that's a huge "if" -- it could very well inspire a renewal of the freedom movement in Iran.

Now, that would be in everybody's best interests.

Except, of course, the tyrants'.

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