Egypt’s New President and Promises

An Islamist leader has finally gotten control of Egypt for the first time in anyone’s living memory. The United States goes out of its way to make sure this does not happen across the Middle East (which is why leaders like Mubarak and Gaddhafi were in power in the first place, with American blessings) but, alas, the long-reviled Muslim Brotherhood won the presidency with candidate Mohammed Mursi.

The question is: will he rule as an Islamist? And will he finally be the savior Egypt’s been waiting for?

President Mohammed Mursi. Sourced from bikyamasr.com

Reaction’s to Mursi’s win have been mixed, particularly outside of Egypt. Israel is in a tailspin that an Islamist has won the presidency, and Coptic Canadians have been protesting, in fear that those back home will be further degenerated. When it was first announced that Ahmed Shafiq had won, I thought, well, they’ll never leave Tahrir Square-regarding the protesters, for whom the ascension of an Old-Regime buddy would be a disgrace. When Mursi was then announced as the official winner of Egypt’s first democratic elections in it’s entire history, I was at first a little uneasy. Brotherhood rule? They generally haven’t been too friendly with human rights, even though it is true that they were unfortunately ostracized and condemned by government’s past. But I then remembered an important quote from Hezbollah. Author Augustus Nixon quotes Sofia Saadeh in saying

“In a regular democracy, the votes will tell you which direction to go.” (p. 155)

This seems like such a simple statement: people vote, and their votes tell the government what they want. Apparently, assuming that the Egyptian election wasn’t too corrupt, the people have spoken: they wanted an Islamist leader (or, at the very least, they wanted someone who wasn’t Shafiq). So I guess one should be happy that the people got what they wanted-at least in some capacity-and to wait and see if Mursi turns into a fanatic or a democratic saint.

Per a  recent CNN article, it appears that Mursi is at least considering implementing a fair and modern government: there will be two vice presidents, one a woman, and the other a Coptic Christian (two vice presidents? Now there’s something I haven’t heard of before). Personally, I can’t wait to see if this is actually implemented; I find it hard to believe that some Brotherhood party members would approve of a woman in such a powerful position, given that Mursi himself is accused of having once been against women in politics, but here’s to hoping that this comes to pass. A woman in power would mean everything for women in Egypt (and the Middle East, where prominent women politicians are nil), and a Copt in power would secure justice for all, not to mention perhaps stop an exodus of Copts from Egypt.

However good this news sounded, CNN reader ‘Staad’ brought up a bit of cold, hard reality that one must always remember during and after elections:

yeah its always like this for new president. new expectations, happy thoughts. but no money on government, high unemployment. so better to be a good guy now – needs money from the US tax payers to pay govt employees and soldiers.

It’s unfortunate, but politicians will say everything and anything to be elected. They might even truly intend to do said things sometimes, but in the end factors such as no money or a belligerent/unwilling population (i.e., unwilling corporations and elite or, in the case of Egypt, a population unwilling to listen to what a woman in office has to say) will put an end to such ‘happy thoughts.’

Will Mursi plough on with his democratic ideas? Will he get rid of the SCAF and put the army in it’s place, once and for all? Will he become corrupt with power and greed and decide to do away with Democracy and, like his predecessors, become a ruling dictator? This last question, more than any of the others, will be most interesting to find out. Because if he graciously accepts elections and, if not reelected bows out gracefully, then it will mean that true change has come to Egypt-and hopefully he would set precedent for all those who follow.

S-L-M

Links:

1. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/26/world/meast/egypt-politics/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

2. Nixon, Augustus. Hezbollah.

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2 thoughts on “Egypt’s New President and Promises

  1. Very nice article, well put. It wouldn’t surprise me if Morsy follows through on this promise and actually implements those promises. But it’s probably part of a backroom deal or, at the very least, it’s an attempt to keep the minorities silent if he takes away other freedoms. Especially for Copts: if they ever voice concerns to the West, Morsy could always point to a handy Coptic VP and say “how can I be discriminatory or oppressive if my VP is Coptic?”.

    You mentioned that a female VP could give women’s issues in the Middle East a boost. I think that’s highly dependent on whether that female VP is anything like the kind of women the Brotherhood had in Parliament (one of them called for removing the sexual harassment law because it was the woman’s fault that she didn’t dress appropriately).

    1. You have some very fair points. On the surface, it could look like he’s very liberal, and he could ‘blind’ people into not realizing what’s really going on. And hopefully whatever female VP he chooses (I’m really hoping he keeps on this promise) is one that is not veiled…I know that may sound silly, but I fear that if she’s not then hardcore Islamists will just use her as an excuse for all women to be veiled.

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