Egypt’s military coup will make Muslims think that democracy has no room for them

(At least I could see the Daily Telegraph’s chief political commentator is trying to give another perspective (kind of blindspot of the West) of the event that has engulfed Egypt and the Muslim World. Granted, Morsi faces a gaguantum task of turning around a nation that has been under a despotic regime for more than 5 decades. Admittedly he has his shortcomings and mistakes. One is of course on the ‘no judicial review of presidential decree’ of which he had apologised and withdrew.

But writings of western political commentators are overtly bordering into malicious journalism. I have read many a political commentator coming from the western media that are irresponsibly engaging in stoking divisive Islamophobia and going by the many comments of supposedly some ‘enlightened’ westerners, this world is doomed with inhabitants that do not truly understand democracy but yet wanting the rest of the world to recognise them as the advocate and torchbearers of democracy. Very pathetic and despicable indeed….

Obama and the other world powers should not hesitate in condemning this unmistakably military coup. Otherwise the entire Muslim World and Islamists particularly have serious and legitimate doubt on western liberal democracy as a political system universally applicable to all! …Dr Dzul).


By Peter Oborne  Last updated:  July 4th, 2013

Here are six points that strike me as indisputable about today’s events in Egypt.

1. Mohammed Morsi is in custody this morning, yet the only crime he has committed is being elected president of his country.

2. If you don’t like a democratic government, you stick with it until the next election when you have a chance to throw it out. That is how democracy works.

3. There is no doubt this was a military coup. Attempts to claim otherwise are absurd.

4. Mohammed el Baradei (and the Coptic Church) have done himself great damage by  backing the military intervention. Whatever form of government comes next will lack legitimacy because of the methods used today.

5. William Hague failure to condemn outright and wholeheartedly the military coup on the Today Programme today was a terrible mistake.

6. This is another democratically elected Islamist regime, like that of Algeria in 1991, which has not been given a chance. Today’s events are disastrous for the relationship between the West and the Muslim world.

And here are some queries and preliminary observations.  I’d like to see more evidence for William Hague’s  claim that this was a “popular” coup d’etat. Even if the claims that two million people were on the streets yesterday were true, that’s less than 20 per cent of the population of Cairo, and just 2.5 per cent of the population of Egypt.

I wonder how spontaneous this was. I guess that today’s events have been plotted ever since Morsi was elected last year. The army ran Egypt before the revolution, and the deep state never fully gave up control and is back in charge now.

There is an obvious and very worrying analogy with the Algerian elections of 1991 which led to an Islamic government, which was soon overthrown in a military coup and swiftly followed by more than 10 years of civil war, leaving more than 100,000 people dead.

The consequences of what happened yesterday in Egypt may turn out to be even more serious. We may not like or agree with the principles of the Islamist regimes which win these elections. But if they are not given a chance, many Muslims will conclude that there is no place for Islam in a democracy.

6 thoughts on “Egypt’s military coup will make Muslims think that democracy has no room for them

  1. In a way, Mahathir was right when he said that we in the East should adopt the type of democracy according to our own needs and not what the Western world tells us what we should need. The young Egyptians are too focussed on the democracy ala Westminster…and they played right into the laps of the West…

  2. It is too early to tell. Things are in a flux. I am wondering if Islam and democracy are compatible? If one is rooted to believe that some things cannot be changed or even questioned and the other calls for everything to be questioned and changed whenever

  3. Mohamed Morsi’s final days – the inside story

    Egypt’s first freely elected president found himself isolated and abandoned by allies as even his guards simply stepped away

    The army chief came to President Mohammed Morsi with a simple demand: Step down on
    your own.

    “Over my dead body!” Morsi replied to General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Monday, two days before the army eventually ousted him after a year in office.

    In the end, Egypt’s first freely elected president found himself isolated, abandoned by allies and no one in the army or police willing to support him.

    Even his Republican Guards simply stepped away as army commandos came to take him to an undisclosed defence ministry facility, according to army, security and Muslim Brotherhood officials, who gave the Associated Press an account of Morsi’s final hours in office.

    The Muslim Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming for Morsi as early as 23 June – a week before the opposition planned its first big protest. The military gave the president seven days to work out his differences with the opposition.

    In recent months, Morsi had been at odds with virtually every institution in the country, including leading Muslim and Christian clerics, the judiciary, the armed forces, the police and intelligence agencies. His political opponents fuelled popular anger that Morsi was giving too much power to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, and had failed to tackle Egypt’s mounting economic problems.

    There was such distrust between Morsi and the security agencies that they began withholding information from him – deploying troops and armour in cities without his knowledge.

    Police also refused to protect Muslim Brotherhood offices that came under attack in the latest wave of protests.

    Therefore, when Morsi was fighting for his survival, there was no one to turn to, except calling for outside help through western ambassadors and a small coterie of aides from the Brotherhood who could do little more than help him record two last-minute speeches.

    In those remarks, he emotionally emphasised his electoral legitimacy – a topic that Morsi repeatedly raised in the talks with Sisi.

    Early this week, during two meetings in as many days, Morsi, Sisi and Hesham Kandil, the prime minister, sat down to discuss ways out of the crisis.

    But Morsi kept returning to the mandate he won in the June 2012 balloting, according to one of the officials. He said Morsi wouldn’t address the mass protests or any of the country’s most pressing problems – tenuous security, rising prices, unemployment, power cuts and traffic congestion.

    A Brotherhood spokesman, Murad Ali, said the military had already decided that Morsi had to go, and Sisi would not entertain any of the concessions that the president was prepared to make.

    “We were naive … We didn’t imagine betrayal would go this far,” Ali said.

    “It was like, ‘either we put you in jail, or you come out and announce you are resigning,'” Ali added.

    Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming.

    “We knew it was over on 23 June. Western ambassadors told us that,” said another Brotherhood spokesman. US ambassador Anne Patterson was one of the envoys, he added.

    Morsi searched for allies in the army, ordering two top aides – Asaad el-Sheikh and Rifaah el-Tahtawy – to establish contact with potentially sympathetic officers in the 2nd Field Army based in Port Said and Ismailia on the Suez Canal.

    The objective was to find a bargaining chip to use with Sisi, security officials with firsthand knowledge of the contacts said.

    There were no signs that Morsi’s overtures had any effect, but Sisi, on learning of the contacts, took no chances. He issued directives to all unit commanders not to engage in any contacts with the presidential palace and, as a precaution, dispatched elite troops to units whose commanders had been contacted by Morsi’s aides.

    The end nears

    On the surface, Morsi wanted to give the impression that the government was conducting business as usual.

    His offices released statements about meetings with cabinet ministers to discuss issues such as the availability of basic food items during Ramadan when Muslims feast on food after a day of dawn-to-dusk fasting. He had four cabinet ministers talk to TV reporters in the presidential palace about fuel shortages and power cuts.

    The opposition had set its first mass protest for 30 June, the anniversary of his inauguration, but the demonstrations began early, and Morsi had to stop working at Ittihadiya palace on 26 June.

    The next day, he and his family moved into the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guards, an army branch that protects the president.

    Morsi worked at the Qasr El Qouba palace and continued to do so until 30 June, when the Republican Guards advised him to stay put at their headquarters.

    His foreign policy aide, Essam el-Haddad, telephoned western governments to put an optimistic spin on events, according to a military official. Haddad was also issuing statements in English to the foreign media, saying that the millions out on the streets did not represent all Egyptians, and that the military intervention amounted to a textbook coup.

    According to the usually authoritative newspaper Al-Ahram, Morsi was offered safe passage to Turkey, Libya or elsewhere, but he declined. He also was offered immunity from prosecution if he voluntarily stepped down.

    Morsi gave a speech late on Tuesday in which he vowed to stay in power and urged supporters to fight to protect his legitimacy.

    Soon after, Sisi placed him under “confinement” in the Republican Guard headquarters. The next day the military’s deadline to Morsi expired. At 5am troops began deploying across major cities and the military posted videos of the movements to its Facebook page in a bid to reassure the public. Republican Guards assigned to the president and his aides walked away at midday and army commandos arrived.

    There was no commotion and Morsi went quietly. That evening, Sisi announced Morsi’s removal.

  4. m

    Undoubtedly, the MB committed colossal mistakes. For example, they reneged on several promises to their secular and liberal coalition partners, including to not contest the majority of parliamentary seats, field a presidential candidate, or exclude others in the composition of the Constitution Constituent Assembly. Perhaps, their gravest mistake was to ally themselves closely with the Salafist groups during the process of writing the constitution, thus alienating many of the secularists, liberals, as well as Christians even though the MB did not care much about the constitutional ideological battle. Their motivation was not to be outflanked by the Salafis on the Islamic identity of the state. To accomplish this objective, they lost most of the others.

    In addition, Morsi and the MB did not adhere to their promise of full partnership in governance. Many of the youth and opposition groups felt that the president and MB leadership were not genuine in their outreach and only sought their participation for cosmetic reasons. Even their Islamic partners such as the Salafist Al-Noor Party complained that the MB wanted to monopolize the major power centers in the state. It did not matter that the MB did not control the military, the intelligence, the security apparatus, the police, the diplomatic corps, the banking system, or even the bureaucracy. But because of the MB’s lack of transparency and openness, the perception was that they were trying to control the major centers of powers in the state and exclude other parties based on ideology while the reality was that such control was non-existent or superficial.

    But to the average people on the street what mattered was their security and livelihood. During his one year in power, Morsi faced enormous challenges: deterioration in security and basic services, lack of social justice, and economic decline. It appeared to many as deliberate attempts by the deep state (entrenched elements and bureaucrats loyal to the former regime) to ensure the failure of his presidency. His lack of transparency and openness to his people in favor of presenting an optimistic or upbeat outlook added to public cynicism and the perception of incompetence. Another major mistake by the MB was its failure to separate its socio-religious movement from its political manifestation, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). While the public in past times respected the MB for its social services and religious outreach, engaging in politics by its nature is a source of division and rancor. For example when the MB fielded its presidential candidate in March 2012, it was MB’s Guidance Bureau that made the declaration instead of the FJP. In the eyes of the public there was little distinction between the MB and the FJP. So the MB was, correctly or not, held responsible for any political missteps by the FJP.

  5. Mohamed Morsi’s downfall determined by coffee shop rebels rather than army

    A born-again opposition and a president who consistently failed to see his errors were key elements of the 3 July coup d’etat

    “..The 3 July coup may have been executed by the military, but its roots lie in a civilian movement.

    On the evening of 15 April, Mohammed Abdul Aziz and five other friends sat down in Borsa coffee shop in central Cairo to plot ways to invigorate Egypt’s tired civil opposition.

    According to Aziz, the group’s aims were simple at first; to reignite support for a movement that had ground to a halt almost a year into the increasingly unpopular presidency of Morsi.

    “In the beginning all we wanted to do was gather petitions to renounce Morsi,” he said. But the group soon got a name, Tamarod (Rebel). Within weeks it had also gained a momentum that propelled it to centre stage of a defining period in Egypt’s modern history – the ousting of the country’s first democratically elected leader.

    “I was sure by the number of petitions flowing that Tamarod was going to transform the Egyptian political scene,” said Aziz.

    The means seemed simple enough, not dissimilar to the campaign that led to the toppling of the previous president, Hosni Mubarak, 30 months ago. Smartphones, Facebook and other forms of social media were critical organising tools, but this time the boot leather of volunteers and old fashioned petitions also played a pivotal role.

    “We had a website with an electronic petition and a space for people to put their name down and fill the form out,” said Aziz. “They would then print the form out and give it to a volunteer.”

    By mid-May, he said, there were 8,000 volunteers in 15 of Egypt’s 22 governorates.

    “That’s when it became a popular movement. That’s when the idea became a reality…”

  6. Once a bill or an amendment is tabled in a democratic parliment, every MP can support or oppose it. Nevertheless, in this matter, democracy (‘by default’ or by its ‘nature’) usually (if not always) PROVIDES ADVANTAGE to the ruling democratically-elected government. You like it or not, you have to accept this (sometimes) painful reality (if you’re truly a democrat).

    The oppositions to the ruling party can always show their disagreement in various democratic ways eg tabling special motions in the parliment, demonstrating etc.

    The MB & islamists around the world have participated in this process of democracy since many many years ago. There were many times where the minority Islamic democrats felt that the various parlimentary decree, bills, amendments were really against them, but very patiently they maintained their democratic spirit.

    It is your democratic right to hate MB/Morsi, but you should have wait to the next GE/Presidential Election to ‘topple’ them/him. Painful?….that is how democracy works.

    Democrats celebrating/cherishing/welcoming a coup is very2 embarassing indeed!!

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