Patrick Plonski: Ideas, books and the building of democracy (editorial)

The peaceful throngs on the streets of Cairo have won the first round in the battle for democracy in Egypt by forcing President Hosni Mubarak out of office. But the hard work of nation building is only just beginning.

For Egypt to thrive as a truly democratic state, it will have to build up its educational institutions and civic organizations and establish the essential ingredient of any democracy: the rule of law.

American organizations dedicated to these principles are willing to help - organizations like St. Paul-based Books For Africa and its Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative. Books For Africa believes that education is the great equalizer in the world and that books are the foundation of a strong educational system. Over the past 23 years, Books For Africa has shipped 24 million books to 45 African countries, including Tunisia and Egypt. In August, Books For Africa shipped a container of 18,000 books to the Alexandria Library in Egypt.