Problems on hold
I wrote last week warning that the success of the 30 June Revolution which brought down Mursi and his Islamist regime was not the end of the road. Even as they rejoice,
Egyptians face the serious challenge of making their dream of a civil State come true. They should join forces to bring that about through the upcoming elections: the referendum over a new constitution, and the elections for a new parliament and president. If they do not unite for that purpose, they run the risk of the by now all too familiar threat of losing their revolution to the Islamists. In the meantime, Egyptians have to live through the daily episodes of terrorism and bloodshed threatened and promptly executed by the Muslim Brothers (MB) as long as Mursi is not reinstated as president.
The international scene, which failed to grasp what happened in Egypt on 30 June and 3 July when the millions upon millions of Egyptians revolted nationwide and, backed by the army, succeeded in bringing down Mursi and his Islamist regime, placed a damper on Egyptians’ joy. They felt bitter because the whole world had watched the Islamists rise to power and monopolise it; the MB efforts to usurp the independence of the judiciary, push through an Islamist constitution, assume control of all State institutions, and tyrannise the people. Given that all this was no secret, Egyptians felt the world should not have then been appalled at the 30 June Revolution or at the military siding with the people, and should never have reduced the entire matter to a ‘military coup against a legitimate, democratically elected authority’.
It makes me happy, however, to note that some voices in the international media were able to spot the truth and show understanding—and appreciation—for Egypt and her people. I cite here excerpts of these opinions:
• The Congress’ Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel released a joint statement on the events in Egypt, which read:
“What the Brotherhood neglected to understand is that democracy means more than simply holding elections. Real democracy requires inclusiveness, compromise, respect for human and minority rights, and a commitment to the rule of law. Mursi and his inner circle did not embrace any of these principles and instead chose to consolidate power and rule by fiat. As a result the Egyptian people and their economy suffered greatly.”
• Frank Wisner, former US ambassador to Cairo said:
“Many millions in the street forced the Military to intervene. The Army, the police, al-Azhar, the Church and the political leaders supported change. Is it a military coup? What happened in Egypt isn’t a coup in the classic sense. It wasn’t the military which grabbed power by force, it only responded to the overwhelming desire of the people. We have to be very careful before going out to condemn what happened. Democracy is not only about the ballot box.
• Judith Miller, American journalist and political analyst wrote:
“Organisers of the grass-roots Tamarud (Rebel) movement say that their petition demanding that Mursi resign has been signed by over 22 million people—nearly twice the number who brought him to office…Egyptians don##t want to be ruled by an Islamic pharaoh—let alone, in this case, an incompetent one. Protesters in Tahrir have been chanting demands for a ‘Modern Civil Society’—a phrase that rhymes in Arabic. It’s not a demand for ‘secular’ rule; Egyptians remain God-fearing people. They don##t want to expel Allah from their lives or from all aspects of their politics. But they are fed up with President Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement’s effort to use God as a political weapon to legitimise an authoritarian power grab.”
• Thomas Friedman, political analyst and columnist with the New York Times wrote:
“It would be premature to say that this era of political Islam is over, but it is definitely time to say that the more moderate, non-Islamist, political centre has started to push back on these Islamist parties and that citizens all across this region are feeling both more empowered and impatient… In talking to Egyptians in recent weeks there is one word that best captures the mood of that country and that word is “theft.” Always remember: Mursi narrowly won the Presidency by 51 per cent of the vote because he managed to persuade many secular and pious but non-Islamist Egyptians that he would govern from the centre, focus on the economy and be inclusive. The Muslim Brotherhood never could have won 51 per cent with just its base alone.
“As it gradually became apparent that Mursi, whenever he had a choice of acting in an inclusive manner—and pulling in all sectors of Egyptian society—or grabbing more power, would grab more power, a huge chunk of Mursi voters, Islamists and non-Islamist, started to feel cheated by him. They felt that he and his party had stolen something very valuable – their long sought chance to really put Egypt on a democratic course, with more equal growth.
“That widespread sense of theft is what brought so many Egyptians into the streets, which is why it was quite ironic that President Mursi’s last words before being toppled—words he conveyed in a short video over a presidential website—were: ‘The revolution is being stolen from us.’
The thief was calling 911. Unfortunately for him the Egyptian Army answered. Its leaders had already been called by a significant swath of the Egyptian people, so it is now Mursi who finds himself in custody.
“Historians will surely ponder over why the Muslim Brotherhood behaved so foolishly. The short answer seems to be that character is destiny. It has always been a Leninist-like party, with a very strict hierarchy and a conspiratorial view of political life honed from long years in the underground.
“Egypt will never be stable unless it has a government that represents all the main political forces in the country—and that still includes the Muslim Brotherhood, which probably still enjoys support from at least 25 per cent of the voting public…Inclusion can be paralysing or powerful, depending on whether everyone included can agree on a roadmap going forward.”
I hope this shows Egyptians that their revolution has not been misunderstood by the world at large; it has been given justice by those who understood it for what it really is. And I hope it also alerts Egyptians to the challenges ahead.
21 July 2013