By Ahmed El-Ashram
I and millions of Egyptian people are following the international media coverage of recent developments in Egypt with profound disappointment. Unlike the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power, this one is met with abundant discontent and antipathy. Arguably, the precedent that this publicly-backed coup has set seems threatening to the US-planned democratisation process across the Middle East. Ousting an elected president sets a worrisome example to shaky democracies where opposition may start to pursue their agenda, not through the ballot box but on the streets. This may be a valid concern. But while the West is sourly wagging its finger for not having Mohamed Morsi voted out peacefully, there is so little attention given to what happened in Egypt over the past year and what the repercussions of an extended Muslim Brotherhood rule meant for the future of liberal democracy in Egypt and the region.
The part that the international media, knowingly or unknowingly, ignores is how the Muslim Brotherhood undermined the basic concepts of democracy since they came to power. They blocked the rule of law by ignoring court orders and publicly defaming judges. They put the Constitutional Court under siege, legislated a constitutionally illegitimate parliament, embarked on a large-scale campaign to tear down all national institutions and attempted to Islamise every aspect of society.
They have abused the legitimacy of the ballot box to hijack the country and decided to write a new constitution that all liberals, Christians and mainstream thinkers refused to take part in.
Dr Morsi won with a slim majority of 51.7% after millions trusted him to steer the country away from the old regime to which his contender belonged. Instead of upholding the pledge of being a president for the revolution, he issued his own constitutional declaration that granted him absolute powers and protected his decrees from being challenged in court. He used his office to serve his Brotherhood and pushed his fellow Islamist allies into key appointments in central and provincial government. Whenever challenged, he hosted cartoonish ‘national dialogue’ conferences with figures, some of whom had active history in terrorist organisations. He hosted bigots and extremists and allowed them to outrageously defame religious minorities on national TV in his own presence.
Morsi’s relentless commitment to serving his Brotherhood polarised society and pushed the country closer and closer to civil war. In every speech, he made false promises to compromise and share authority; but in effect, he actively condoned the transgression of his backers on judicial and mainstream religious institutions after having controlled the legislature and administration. His perplexed messages and self-defeating decisions proved that he was nothing but a protégé of more influential Brotherhood leaders, and that he himself was inept to rule.
The people of Egypt felt that they were betrayed for the second time; they saw their country slowly turning into another Iran where personal liberties, freedom of speech and creed were gradually being stripped away in the name of electoral legitimacy. The country lost its political prestige and the people felt disgraced and threatened by the actions of a fascist league that lusted for power after 80 years of a history tainted with violence.
Because the only thing that should not be tolerated in a liberal society is intolerance, the people of Egypt exercised the most fundamental right in any true democracy and took to the streets to declare the annulment of their contract with this regime that didn’t uphold a single pledge it had made to the electorate. In the biggest political march in the history of Egypt, and possibly mankind, more than 15 million people demonstrated across the nation and called on their armed forces to side with them. Instead of acknowledging the sheer size of the mass protests, Morsi delivered a dissociated speech, addressing his supporters with concealed messages to incite violence against the army, police and protestors. The military was left with no choice but to transfer power to the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court and announce early elections while making it clear that the country will firmly remain under civilian rule.
We feel betrayed by the international media which decided to ignore the transgressions and the falsifications of the Brotherhood that gambled with the future of the country and the wellbeing of its people. The series of ongoing violent attacks by radical Islamist groups on police and armed forces in Sinai, and all over Egypt, are not covered by international press or leading news channels. And if anything, they are a testament for what Morsi stood for: extremism and disguised violence.
We are proud to stand up for our freedom and we will fight for it. Anyone who truly believes in the widely-proclaimed ideals of democracy will know which side to take: the rights, the freedom and the will of the people or a failed president who abused his powers and divided his country.
I am a free Egyptian and I approve this message.
Ahmed El-Ashram is a Financial Economist in Washington DC and a graduate of the American University in Cairo in 2005 and Warwick Business School in 2008.