As we celebrate Independence Day, aka the Fourth of July, here in the United States of America, Egyptians too are celebrating on a national level: on July 3rd, yesterday, the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood party in a military coup.
I am pleased that Mohammed Morsi is no longer in office. Although he was elected democratically (did anybody measure the possible corruption levels at the polls?), I was skeptical at first because he was not supporting the idea of a secular government. Whatever happened to the promised vice presidents, one of whom was supposed to be a Coptic Christian and the other a woman? And don’t get me started on his style of governing: Egyptians had replaced one dictator for another (jailing media figures for mocking the president is not democratic at all).
The overthrow of a national leader by a national military is not a new concept nor is it old-fashioned, given that this seems to happen in many African countries (ahem, Mali and the DRC) every time one turns around. I am still mulling over whether or not I condone the military’s behavior. As I sat watching a Fox News channel panel on the event this evening (BBC America, Al-Jazeera and CNN were having sound difficulties, at least on my television set) one gentlemen whose name I forget reminded everyone that this was a unique case. Why? Because, unlike other military coups, the Egyptian army plans to give power back to the people, not keep it for themselves. Although this is seemingly true, I say: give it time. The Egyptian army seemed a bit mutinous last time around when Morsi finally came to power, and I’m sure his dismissal of General Mohammed Tantawi did not patch things up.
Besides questioning the military’s power-hungry motives, I’m also undecided whether or not the action taken was valid. It is true that Mohammed Morsi did not speak for all Egyptians, that the Egyptian economy has not improved (I’d say it’s probably worse than Mubarak-era levels) and that many, many Egyptians wanted him out of office. His popularity, which seemed vast at the time of his election, dwindled fast, and clearly the Egyptian majority wanted him out of office, if the protest sizes were any indication. The victory celebrations also make that clear. However, I do feel that perhaps a better course of action would have been to have an impeachment, or at least an emergency election, but obviously Morsi wasn’t going to allow that to happen. And that is totally undemocratic, so I guess the military did take the best appropriate course of action.
My third reservation on the military’s “temporary” return to power is this: that it has since arrested some Muslim Brotherhood political figures. Why? Although Morsi and crew were unyielding to demands, it doesn’t exactly make them criminals, just power leaders. The subsequent fighting between the military and pro-Morsi supporters is also troubling: what happened to non-violence? If this is supposed to be a democratic country, where power changes parties (given on the people’s opinion) every few years, shouldn’t the Muslim Brotherhood realize that it couldn’t always be in power? Actually, that seems like a particularly troubling observation, and perhaps an indication that the Brotherhood’s goals are in fact undemocratic and sinister. This fighting, and the hundreds of sexual assault cases that are currently being reported, is all repetitive of what came before. Looks like this is Egypt’s Revolution Round 2.
Since I am observing Independence Day here in the United States, I must also comment on America’s position during this new development. Despite our heritage which promotes democracy, freedom of expression and liberty, America once again is not openly supportive of the protesters, just like it was during the January 25th Revolution. Clearly America doesn’t care who is in power, as long as that person is cordial and cooperative with America’s Middle East foreign policy.
I’m quite curious to see what happens to Mohammed Morsi. Will he try to regain the presidency in a coup of his own? will he take the case to the United Nations or the International Criminal Courts (ha, ha)? Will he flee the country and head to the United States? Will he be arrested and tried alongside Mubarak, or worse killed? Will he be allowed to continue his life in peace? Will he be Egypt’s first and last (for the next 100 years, anyway) democratically elected president? And finally, will America and the Egyptian people finally get on the same page?! You both want democracy!!
Happy Independence Day to All!