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Monday
Sep092013

Why Egyptians support the Coup?

By Mohiba Abdel Salam  

There is deep mistrust in the west about any intervention by the brass in civilian affairs. The history of unscrupulous coups and repressive juntas in Latin America and Africa may justify this view. It is however wrong to lump the events of 3 July in Egypt with those former military takeovers.

The intervention of the army was preceded by a campaign to withdraw confidence  from ex-president Mursi, which supposedly gathered over 20 million signatures from disaffected citizens. The days preceding his fall witnessed massive demonstrations, in which millions participated across the country. Those protests were not only fuelled by dissatisfaction with the day to day performance of the government but, more crucially by a loss of faith. The president and his regime could be said to have forfeited their legitimacy in the eyes of many of those who voted for them back in November, after he promulgated his notorious constitutional declaration. This act practically gave him immunity from accountability, semi-divine prerogatives and a tool with which to bring the judiciary to heel. He used those wide powers to hurry through a constitution which contained the seeds of a totalitarian religious state.

This is why liberals in Egypt and the millions who took to the streets consider the coup a chance for democracy. This statement may sound paradoxical but only if one makes the mistake of comparing ‘finished’ democracies like Britain and the U.S. with nascent ones like Egypt. Not infrequently in the history of the former, force has been used to lay the groundwork of democracy. The English army of Cromwell which stormed parliament also paved the way for parliamentary government by curbing the power of absolutism. The French revolution was no picnic, and America required a civil war to break the back of slavery. The curtailment of the rights of the Southern states at the time was undoubtedly an undemocratic act which, nevertheless, opened the door to broader participation.

There can be no democracy without democrats. It was fatal to entrust the liberalization of Egypt to the illiberal Moslem Brotherhood. The entanglement of religion and politics, at the root of their ideology, is nothing if not poisonous. Many in the West know that the Brotherhood only paid lip-service to freedom of speech and belief and that discrimination against women and minorities was the order of the day. To insist that their removal from power is a blow to democracy can only be called hypocritical.

Alexandria Crowds

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