By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, July 27, 2013
Who would have thought that the zealous crowds that had spearheaded the uprising against Mubarak could cause the greatest damage to their cherished revolution?
The political analyst Marwan Bishara was totally right when he said in his book The Invisible Arab that the Egyptian revolution “is not a sprint affair. It’s more like a marathon, or indeed, a relay.” This simply means that anyone who believes that the Egyptian revolution is a one stage process, yielding all those idyllic expectations must be totally misguided.
The People and the Military
One must admit that the recent twist in the Egyptian revolution was not that farfetched. The status of the military in post-revolution Egypt remained obscure and the democratization of Egypt would have inevitably ended with a civilian control over the military, an unacceptable outcome for an institution that reaped for decades many privileges without a glimpse of accountability. The military remains as it is the case in many countries, a closed institution living by its own rules. Anyone who would pose any threat to the generals’ dominance would harvest their bitter wrath. But it is worth asking here, does the military believe in democracy? It is indeed an intricate question for an institution based on authority and tight stratification. In that case, what are the circumstances that can mobilize the Egyptian military into action? The motive behind Morsi’s ouster is identical to the logic that had propelled the military to the limelight during the revolution of 25 January: Centeredness.
The military needs to remain at the center of the political action in Egypt despite the claim for a peaceful intervention and objectivity. Once again, the stage was free for the generals to lift the curtain and start their show. The Egyptians, who were so adamant about the drafting of a flawless constitution, became so embittered with the Muslim Brotherhood’s deaf politics. They decided to relinquish their own principles just to have the Islamists out of sight. Here lies the most hazardous step for Tahrir Square activists. The acceptance of a military coup against a democratically elected president constitutes a fatal blow to democracy and a dangerous regression of the Egyptian revolution.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Faux Pas
It is a pity that the Muslim Brotherhood missed such historical turning point. The stubbornness of their elite and the inelasticity of their improvised political agenda were the major factors behind this civil disobedience. Identifying the pitfalls of the MB political vision is a step towards understanding the whole insurgency in Egypt. After the revolution, the MB came to power with the good will, a lot of rancor against the figures of the unseated regime but with a foggy vision of a post-revolutionary Egypt, where everyone claims staunchly the right to free expression. Armed with their famous slogan “Islam is the solution,” the MB refused to alter their monolithic vision of Egypt. But Egypt is diverse. Egypt is not made only of pious Muslims or pro-Islamists Muslims needless to recall that not all Egyptians are Muslims. If the Muslim Brothers have sustained their narrow vision and faced less resistance they would have turned the country into a real orthodoxy obsessed by religious compliance rather than governance.
The MB was taken by surprise at the magnitude of the 25 January uprisings and their outreach. They soon realized that if they do not take part to the massive demonstrations against Mubarak’s regime, they will be left empty handed. But we need also to pinpoint that the MB suffered for decades at the hand of Mubarak and his security apparatus, and it was just the right time for the vendetta. It was also the right time to reap the fruits of long standing charity and associative networks that earned them the sympathy and the support of the masses.
Thus, the MB came to power with vengeance in their heart, a reactionary dream in their mind and no clear political agenda to grapple with the sluggish economy, rampant unemployment, high living costs, and the geopolitical challenges in the regions and most importantly with no knowledge in the management of ideological conflicts. Each attack on the MB was perceived as an attack on Islam which is another erroneous superposition. Obviously, the MB‘s road map lacked the most important element to govern a composite society like Egypt: modulation.
The Egyptian Opposition, Hypocrisy and Democracy.
The Egyptian opposition became incrementally disgruntled with Morsi’s stern governance. His moves were perceived as an attempt to Islamize Egypt instead of finding reasonable solutions to the country’s numerous problems. The discontent with Morsi’s policies grew bitter and bitter as the economic situation was ceaselessly retrograding with soaring prices, petrol shortage, energy cuts and unaffordable living costs.
In the midst of these practical hardships, the ideological rift between the secular camp and the Islamist one was getting wider. For some, the opposition to Morsi’s rule was a battle for bread but for others it was a battle for ideas and negotiable margins of freedom. It was clear from the beginning that the secular parties were uncomfortable with the rise of political Islam. They were constantly fearful of its potential for autocracy.
The opposition then found a safe haven under the wing of the military and the demand for a radical change became more pressing. Though the military rejects the label “Military Coup,” the military intervention, the deposition of Morsi, his detention and the sudden issuance of conspiracy allegation against the MB’s senior members convey exactly what a military coup stands for. By consenting to this move, the opposition has betrayed democracy, and most importantly, it has failed the hopes of millions of Egyptians for a brand new Egypt.
Split Egypt, the Crack in the wall
Egypt is today split into two adverse and undeterred camps. It is not really easy to give absolute labels to each party. Those in Tahrir Square claim to defend the revolution from the tight grip of the Muslim Brotherhood whereas the pro-Morsi mobs rallied in Nasr City claim to defend the legitimacy of democracy. But it is worth asking, is the Egyptian opposition oblivious of the primary premise in democracy: The power of the ballot? Indeed, for unsatisfied citizens, there might be other channels to express their discontent, more democratic ways than an abrupt military intervention.
That said, the experience with political Islam showed that though the Islamists use democracy to rise to power, nonetheless they are not fully devoted to its principles and more particularly to pluralism. Islamists chose to play the democratic game, but once they are in a powerful position they tend to forsake it just to adopt more orthodox and exclusive ways. But history showed also that this double standard approach in politics does not yield the expected results and can have many setbacks for political Islam itself.
Today, Egypt is truly a nation at the crossroads of history. The choice for Egyptians is not between a military or civilian rule. The real issue for Egypt today, is what does each camp mean by “Democracy,” how democratic they can be in their own political practice and how much goodwill they have to attune their vision with the adverse parties.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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