The recent departure of Mr. Mohammad Morsi, the President of Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood from the political arena, based on the ‘not so popular’ military coup has laid bare the great rifts in the Egyptian society.
Tens of thousands of pro-Morsi supporters have amassed in Cairo, Alexandria and other governorates, demanding the reinstatement of Mr. Morsi as President. A stark contrast can be observed, as the other half of the society is still flocking at Tahrir Square and the area around presidential palace for the celebration of Mr. Morsi’s ouster.
Regardless of what the commentators keep on preaching, the fact that the military coup materialized against a democratically elect government cannot be disregarded. The ramifications of this are too serious, and the effects are gradually surfacing. Radicalized masses have already mobilized in Egypt chanting that “The Democracy has failed”.
Undoubtedly Mr. Morsi is to blame for assuming an air of naiveté in the face of impending crisis. Instead of forming a broad coalition government with the liberal parties on board, so that the trust deficit could be bridged, Mr. Morsi made them feel alienated. Further discord was struck when Mr. Morsi did not allow the opposition parties to partake in writing Egypt’s constitution. He had the opportunity to unite Egypt’s divided public by reaching out towards the opposition, but instead he ended up in isolating them.
But on the other side, the assumedly liberal opposition acted quite ill-liberal, and ended up relegating the democratic ideals based on the ‘vision of tolerance’ and the ‘popular will of the public’. The failing economy, weak security situation and crumbling justice system that had prompted the public to step out, had imbibed years of corrupt practices, continuing unabated after Mr. Morsi stepped in. Ostensibly situations of deterioration in state affairs were deliberately created by the deep state, entrenched in bureaucratic offices; a legacy of former dictatorial regime. In the post Mubarak transition, the opposition instead of engaging in a productive manner was bent on reactionary rhetoric, which further polarized the society. The support bent by leading opposition party, National Salvation Front to Tamarod (Rebel) Movement solely focused on toppling the government. Surprisingly, those decrying the government failures had no concrete future plans to offer by themselves, and issued perfunctory statements of ‘economic mismanagement’ and ‘flawed social justice’. The confusion in opposition camps can be observed from the fact that Abdelkader Hachani, a leader of National Salvation Front, is known to have issued a warning call to his supporters. “Victory is more dangerous than defeat,” he told them.
Unfortunately, after the ousting of Morsi no reconciliatory efforts have been made up till now by either the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) or the opposition parties to re-integrate the Muslim Brotherhood in the renewed political process. Instead a brutalized crackdown reminiscent of former regimes have been launched. More than 30 pro Morsi protesters have been killed by the armed forces in separate acts of violence in the past two days, while dozens of Brotherhood leaders have been detained including Mr. Mohammad Morsi, in undisclosed locations.
It should not be forgotten that the radical version of political Islam, espoused by Muslim Brotherhood had its roots in the Egyptian government led censorship campaign in 1954. Alleged to have plotted the assassination of then Egyptian President, Mr. Gamal Nasser, the Muslim Brotherhood was subsequently banned in Egypt and its senior leadership was detained. It was during these torturous times that Syed Qutub – the famous ideologue of Muslim Brotherhood, underwent a radical change and wrote his acclaimed book “Ma’alim Fi’l Tareeq”, which in turn inspired fresh cadres, who justified the extreme expression of Islamic revivalism. The research director of Brookings Doha Center, Mr. Shadi Hamid writes, “In 1954, no one could have guessed that the brutal crackdown against the Brotherhood would set in motion a chain of events that would have terrible consequences for the region and America.”
As in past, the recent episode has mobilized the radical Islamist groups again under the umbrella of Al-Qaida. Fresh attempts are being made to recruit angry pro-Morsi supporter in joining the militancy ranks. In an edict (fatwa) endorsed by Mohammad Al Zwahiri, the brother of Ayman al Zwahiri – AQ top brass, the followers were urged to fight the “plot orchestrated by the United States and its agents”. Moreover videos have surfaced, in which the Jihadists are shown regrouping in Sinai desert, avowing quick retribution against the Egyptian armed forces in the form of suicidal splinter groups.
So, on an immediate basis, the Muslim Brotherhood must be re-incorporated in the political system. Their grievances should be addressed by the way of dialogue and they should be freely allowed to contest parliamentary and presidential elections. If these damage containment measures are not exercised at the earliest; then it is most plausible that the course of action charted by the opposition to oust Mr. Morsi has in it set a dangerous precedent, which would be exercised by the other half of the society in the name of ‘revolutionary legitimacy’.