Egypt Politics News Cartoon

Egypt: Autocracy, Democracy, Theocracy... what's left?

Mohammed Morsi and the Arab Fall

Politics in Egypt is a mess. The recent removal of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood party is less of an issue than the process by which he was removed. That process does not bode well for the future of Egypt.

Cynics who believe that working class people are largely apathetic and are unable to take control of their lives need only look to Egypt for a reality check. Briefly, a mass uprising ousted an autocrat, Hosni Mubarak, in want of a democracy. Mubarak was at the helm for almost 30 years as president.

After Egypt established its new democracy, President Mohammed Morsi, essentially a theocrat, was elected – by the people, for the people, as the cliché goes. A mere 18 months later, Morsi has now been removed from office by the military following yet another mass uprising. This incidentally, is the same military that removed Mubarak not too long ago.

The army has installed a caretaker government, with a promise to hold new general elections in three months. The Muslim Brotherhood party has had its wings severely clipped, but will still be allowed to participate in the election. The question is where does this leave Egypt in practical terms?

The most recent mass uprising was driven by secular moderate political and faith groupings (both Islamic and Christian). Essentially, the minorities were not happy with their democratically elected leader, so they made a fuss. Now in a true democracy, that fuss would be fine. This challenge to corrupt elites and to fundamentalist religious parties is wonderfully affirming of the Open Society concept, which embraces diversity and pluralism.

However, forcibly removing an elected president is necessarily a bad thing if one is establishing a credible democracy. While the likes of the US are avoiding calling the military move a coup because they’re not too fond of the idea of a fundamentalist regime in Egypt, a coup is exactly what it was.

If Morsi was alienating a big chunk of Egypt, then it would have been preferable for the public to force new elections while he was still head of state. This would have been on the basis that he had outraged such a significant minority that a ‘vote of non-confidence‘ (in the form of massive demonstrations and petitions) could only be resolved by going to the polls, despite this being in the middle of his term of office.

However, the anti-Muslim Brotherhood coalition, by turning to the military to enforce Morsi’s removal, has reinforced the role of the army as an important power broker and reaffirms its illegal role as a political force outside of civilian control. Forget about the fact that the army has promised a new election very soon, and focus on the fact that it now runs the country openly, in spite of a new constitution which prohibits this. That, is not the power of the people.

If process is not followed, chaos ensues. Even if an alternative government is installed after the new elections, Egyptians will be left with no respect for their own vote. This last move has once again demonstrated to Egyptians that it is legitimate to use force to settle political differences. If that is the precedence to govern, then Wonkie will bet money that civil war is not far away. Welcome to the Arab Fall.

Leave your comment on Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt’s future.

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If reading the news about Egypt is far too depressing, then perhaps now would be a good time to be hopeful and get yourself an international lottery ticket, or two. If you’re based in India and the chances of a mass uprising are too slim to enable real change, then you might want to visit this updated website or this Indian online casino website instead.

South Africans wondering if there will ever be a violent reaction against government locally, or one that matters at least, would be better off taking their chances on some South African online casino or visiting this page instead. Stay tuned for Wonkies upcoming article on South African mentality when it comes to politics.

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Related articles on Islam, Egypt and the Arab Spring:

  1. North African Islamic Revolution
  2. South African uprisings
  3. Islamic anger – What is going on?

Leave your comment on Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt’s future.

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  1. Al Viljoen says

    The problem with not removing him now and waiting and protesting later is that later there would be no removal, by ballot – only by revolution. The new clauses to the constitution were designed to turn Egypt into a clerical Islamic country with all the murderous repression that comes with that – and no chance of legal removal.

    While the way it was done was wrong it was probably the only chance of Egypt remaining a free country in an area run by oppressive Islamic governments.

    This is truly a case of the people being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

    • Al, what you say may be true but inviting a powerful third party to literally disregard the legal process is asking for trouble. It sets a very dangerous precedent.

      The smarter move would have been for the minorities to continue the protests, which they are entitled to do. A longer ride, but that proxy ‘vote of no confidence’ would likely have been sufficient to force change if not a new election, whilst maintaining legal process. By taking this illegal military short cut, the minorities are paving the way to civil war.

      Remember, whether we like it or not, the majority of Egypt voted-in the Muslim Brotherhood. So what happens next: the military keeps holding power, until the Brotherhood is forced to lose the election to a party that favours the minority groups? That would make for a rather unhappy Brotherhood, and one can hardly expect them to take that lying down.

      The minorities have opted for the easy way out of a difficult situation, and that is going to cost them dearly. In your terms, they had tools and weapons to fight the devil, but have decided to swim without life-jackets instead.

  2. Kunle Leke says

    In as much as I’m not in support of the autocratic handling of government procedures embarked upon by the leadership of Morsi, with the series of laws promulgating the so called ‘immunity’. This act of ‘touch me not’ was not expected of someone of his status and belief. But, even at that the rules governing democracy should be respected. The recent act that happened in Egypt has no other name than what it is ‘coup’ and this I think should be frowned at world wide if the rule of law must be respected.
    The president should be reinstated and the proper channel of impeachment should be followed.

  3. This situation underlines a basic premise. We presume that all believers in Islam are fundamentalists who want to live in an Islamic state underpinned by the Sharia, fatwas and strict adherence to the Koran, yet recent events show that this is not what all the Islamic people want. There is a strong division not only between different streams of Islam but between those who want to live in a secular state and those who don’t. The Muslim Brotherhood was showing signs of favoring the Islamists, which is something the secular Muslims did not like. Because religion is so fundamental to both parties it was bound to lead to conflict. For a non muslim (and the western powers) it is better that the secularists prevail thus the USA doubtless think that Morsi’s removal is to their advantage and therefore will not label the overthrow as a coup.

    • All well and good Garth, but are you then suggesting that a democracy is not the way forward in such countries? Remember, regardless of who likes it , or not – the Muslim Brotherhood was elected by the majority in Egypt. Are minority rights more important in these countries than in others?

  4. God made man, and man made RELIGION.
    Religion is the curse and cause of all the world’s problems.
    Leave religion behind, follow spirituality.
    “Religion is belief in someone else’s experience, Spirituality is having your own experience”
    Deepak Chopra

    As for war….It is time the innocent soldiers and citizens of the world stood up to their governments, politicians and rulers and told them ‘it is your war, go out and fight it yourselves’

    • God made man, man made religion, the devil made politics, mix politics and religion and you’ve got trouble, deep deep trouble.

    • Hmm… Wonkie would argue that spirituality, according to Deepak Chopra, is the belief in Deepak Chopra’s experience 😉

      As for your comment about war – true. If only it were that simple. Perhaps the public needs to force Angie Motshekga and the rest of government to send their own kids to the public schools in Limpopo. South Africa might see some change then – what do you think?

  5. Dear Wonkie team…your understanding, insights and info around the situation in Egypt are – to me, at least – more relevant, incisive, and more real than CNN ,BBC, and all the other bull$hit propagated in the media. As always, I personally look into your ‘mirror’ to grasp the essence of relevant topics and situations in Egypt and elsewhere!! Arab Spring turns to Arab Fall, as you intimated, is so real. Your ‘balance’ shines through.

  6. Michael Watson says

    Dear Wonkie, the last thing I expected from you girls and guys is naivety but naivety is what you show in this article. The Moslem Brotherhood is a band of religiously fanatic brothers , which is what they showed more-or-less immediately when they came into power and the only way for Egypt to get rid of these fanatics was via a military takeover otherwise we would have seen civil disorder and violence on a scale comparable to the Spanish Civil War with millions of deaths. Wake up girls and boys and smell the coffee, this is not the teddybears’ picnic.

    • Michael, perhaps Wonkie is naive, but Wonkie challenges you to argue differently whilst maintaining objectivity, and cognizance of the facts.

      Fact: The Muslim Brotherhood did not grab power – they were democratically elected. By definition, that’s what the majority in Egypt wanted.

      According to what you suggest in your comment, if some minority group is not happy with a democratically elected leader, and/or your infallible crystal ball predicts dire doom and gloom at the hands of some political party, then the only way way to resolve the situation is to forcibly destroy the democracy, and overthrow the government with a coup. Alrighty, then.

      Also, Wonkie is curious to know what a non-naive view would be about what’s going to happen next in Egypt. By your implication in the comment, civil war has been successfully averted by this coup. Does your crystal ball suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood, who also have the support of the majority in Egypt, is going to simply going to bend over and say “Yeah baby, give me more – I like this.”? Alrighty, then.

      • a-maize-ingly-corny says

        So, according to the “rules”, Ballot-box stuffers with long lists of deceased “voters” and duplicate name/date of birth/residential address “voters” with slightly different ID numbers are “democratically elected” and should not be challenged as to their right to hold office until the next “election” !!!
        This is why there has been only one “elected” leader in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 – a 33 year downhill tumble leading to a huge number of legitimate voters being “exiled” – here in SA and in many other countries with a more honest definition of democracy – and unable to express their opinions in places where their opinions may have weight – at home in Zimbabwe!
        Most definitely Robert Mugabe wants to see this kind of democracy flourish.
        So does Mohammed Morsi.
        And so many other “democratically elected” “leaders”!!!

  7. Lesego Makgothi says

    Egypt has not been a member of AU for three decades. AU dictates that a democratically elected government cannot be ousted by military force. The coup in Egypt has been timed well by the military, if a super power like US fell short in pronouncing itself that what military has done is a coup, but rather say change of power by military rule, hmmm! One wonders whether is it because of the $1.5 billion US aid to Egypt of which $1.3 billion is in the military assistance? They went ahead with the deal to deliver F-16 fighter jets after the change of power by military rule. Egyptian military knew it that if US in on their side, even AU will bark like a toothless old dog.

    US may not think that this is their problem, well for now, but I fully agree with Wonkie that civil war is eminent, not far away from now. Muslim Brotherhood is without doubt majority in Egypt. They are never going to go down without standing their ground.

  8. Winstone Churchill is quoted as saying “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”. He is probably correct but when 2 or more diametrically opposed beliefs clash then Democracy fails unless there is some give and take between the sides. Morsi and his party immediately tried to force and Islamist constitution and an Islamist behavior on the Egyptian people who have very large secular following. If he had been more liberal and invited his larger minorities into his lawmaking the coup would probably not have happened.

  9. American retake of Egypt.

  10. Michael Watson says

    OK, Wonkie, let’s try again. You keep on saying things such as “The Islamic Brotherhood’s election victory is what the majority in Egypt wanted.” This is a somewhat spurious, if not ridiculous, statement. The facts are that only around 50% of the electorate participated in the first round of voting. In that round the Muslim Brotherhood got around 26% and Shafiq around 23% – not a very big difference and their combined votes were slightly less than 50% of the total voter participation so that the Brotherhood got around 26% of the voter participation, which is around 13% of the electorate! Due to the confused and confusing electoral arrangements, only the first two parties were eligible to participate in the final round, which the Brotherhood won with about 52% of votes cast, which once again was only about 50% of eligible voters, and Shafiq got around 48% despite the fact that his offices were torched in addition to other electoral outrages. The simple fact is that nobody really knows what the majority of Egyptians want, but when I see the huge turnout of young people as well as older people in central Cairo and Alexandria in support of the army’s ouster of Morsi and the Brotherhood I think it is rather clear that the majority don’t want an Islamic government.

    • a-maize-ingly-corny says

      Follow your own logic!
      The majority of those Egyptians TAKING TO THE STREETS AND SQUARES don’t want an Islamic government.
      But what percentage of the voting population IS out protesting?

  11. Having been on a recent visit to the Arabian peninsula ( ok, Dubai and Abu Dhabi), I was interested to know if the Arabs wanted secular or Islamist governments. As an anthropology major I knew what questions to ask (such as do you eat dogs or can you ride a camel?). I then met with a friend of mine who works and lives in Saudi Arabia (he was visiting the Emirates for his monthly fix of wine, unfortunately he was along with his Arab girl friend,pissed most of the time) With the extensive knowledge that I gained it was apparent that the Arabs are quite happy with secularism, are mainly devout (or semi devout muslims) and would see their despot leaders consigned to the outer reaches of the Sahara. However there are others with their straight little mustaches and their narrow minds who will live and die for their beliefs. I was almost medieval. There is a divide between those who want an Islamist government (and the free handouts from the oil rich sheikhs) and those who don’t (and the free handouts from the oil rich sheikhs). Who knows who is the majority, if the emirates are anything to go by I would suggest that secularism wins every time. Unfortunately democracy does not work with such a big divide. The Americans do not understand this and will fight Al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan etc.. but give them arms and money to try and overthrow a secular regime in Syria.

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