It’s becoming increasingly clear that Egypt is heading back to the future
The warning from the military leaders in Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood could be banned if adherents do not end the uprising that was triggered by the ouster of the democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, brings to mind the three decades of dictatorial reign of military strongman Hosni Mubarak. His perceived enemies were killed or imprisoned for life. They numbered in the thousands.
But there is nothing to suggest that Morsi’s supporters are prepared to give up their fight to return the former president to power — even though the death toll has surpassed 900. That means the Brotherhood’s days may be numbered.
The Islamist organization was long-outlawed, but swept to power in the country’s first democratic elections a year ago.
Such a ban — which authorities say is rooted in the group’s use of violence — would be a repeat of the decades-long power struggle between the state and the Brotherhood.
For more than a month since the July 3 military overthrow of Morsi, Brotherhood members and supporters have attacked and torched scores of police stations and churches, in retaliation. Shops and houses of Christians also have been targeted.
Such attacks spurred widespread public anger against the Brotherhood, giving the military-backed government popular backing to step up its campaign against the Islamist group. It reminded people of the Islamist insurgency against Mubarak’s rule in the 1990s, which only strengthened security agencies.
Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 in what is commonly referred to as the Arab Spring.
It now appears that the military coup — President Obama continues to avoid using the word to describe what took place July 3 — is taking Egypt backwards away from the democracy that many Egyptians and Western nations welcomed with open arms.
A record turnout at the polls resulted in Morsi’s election and the very real prospect of Egypt becoming another theocracy in the region.
Despite the president’s assurances that his government was committed to the fair and equal treatment of all Egyptians, it became clear that the Brotherhood was less concerned about the economy, unemployment, power shortages and a general malaise among young people, than its Islamic agenda.
More than 22 million citizens signed petitions calling for Morsi’s resignation. The president refused to go quietly, noting that he had been elected democratically and that any action to forcefully remove him from office was illegal.
As we warned in an editorial in July, the military coup undermines the whole concept of democracy and does not bode well for the future of Egypt.
While the secularists were justifiably worried about the country becoming a theocracy like Iran, the change in government should have occurred at the ballot box.
President Obama, along with members of Congress, have reacted appropriately, warning that continued upheaval will affect America’s future relations with Egypt.
But the reality is that the outside world is helpless to do anything to end the violence. Only the people of Egypt can right the teetering ship of state.