Almost wo years after the January 25 revolution which lead to the ouster of the erstwhile military strongman Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is still in a transition. The political struggle in Egypt has transpired into a goliath battle between the liberal and the conservatives.
Muslim Brotherhood Freedom:
On the one hand we have Islamist parties namely the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party (FJP) and the Salafist Al-Nour whose primary aim of existence is the enforcement of Sharia. Solving the economic quagmire is on the list of agendas but that takes a backseat when it comes to how Egypt should govern itself. However, there are liberal leftists who stand for little other than stoking public fear about the repercussions of Islamists at the helm of affairs.
Democracy declared Un-Islamic:
Traditionally, the Salafists have touted democracy and political activism as un-Islamic which bring forth the rule of man as opposed to the rule of God. However the first phase of the revolution ushered in a remarkable change in this mindset with the Salafist youth calling for political representation. This lead to the formation of the Al-Nour party. This is in stark contrast to the Muslim Brotherhood which has always been politically active at the grassroots and is believed to be the most organized party in Egypt.
Then Brotherhood, Now Freedom and Justice Party:
The Brotherhood have largely been political outcasts due to the usually accorded status of an illegal organization, until 2011 when they contested under the banner of Freedom and Justice party.
Last Hope- Implementation of Shariah:
After many years of despotic yet ostensibly secular rule, the Egyptian people were unanimous in pinning their hopes on the Islamist’s call for the implementation of Sharia as the solution to their everyday problems. The Al-Nour and Freedom and Justice party combined had 70 percent of the total seats in parliament. Mohammad Morsi, a graduate of University of Southern California, emerged as the president of the fledgling democracy.
Rise of Political Islam:
The 2011 revolution was remarkable in the sense that it widened Egypt’s political class with previously sidelined entities and giving rise to what is today known as political Islam. This political emancipation was welcomed by all and sundry but several caveats soon followed.Many analysts saw this Islamist surge with skepticism.Primarily, it was deemed to be a threat to Egypt-US relations and Egypt-Israel peace accord of 1979.
Additionally, the possibility of hijacking the democratic process,suppressing the rights of minorities, disenfranchising women, unwillingness to relinquish power and fostering anti-Americanism are some other reasons for this conviction.
Encouragement towards Moderate Islamists:
Contrary to these beliefs moderate Islamists should be encouraged to incorporate themselves in the political process as it weakens the hardline elements within them as witnessed in the case of Egypt’s Salafists.
With a virtual coup d’e tat in place, Egypt is fast becoming into a story of what could have been. Democracy, as western democracies have long known, is a work in progress. It is about the right to make the wrong decision. Societies and countries evolve into a democracy. Even if it is assumed that the root of all problems lay in Egypt’s Islamist rule,then even then, the political process should not have been derailed as the people would have been able to vent their displeasure at their policies in the next elections.This would have created an excellent precedent for Egypt’s future generations.
Is Rebel Moment Seeing a Corrective Phase?
So, the exposition that the Tamarod(Rebel) movement is seeing a corrective phase does not hold weight. Ironically, the movement has looked towards the same elements from whom it had previously wrested control from just two years ago.The same forces are now being hailed as saviors of the revolution. Anti-Americanism was also on overt display in the mass protests at Tahrir square.The American ambassador Anne Patterson was publicly lambasted for supposedly siding with the Morsi government.
However, the protesters seem to ignore the fact that with the fall of a legitimate political setup,however incompetent it maybe, serves to further American agenda in the region with the secular pro-American Egyptian military coming to helm of affairs once again. So in retrospect, Egypt has successfully orchestrated a pyrrhic counter revolution to the January 25, 2011 revolution.
Is Military more Patriotic than Politicians?
In the 1990s, Algeria descended into what was the start of a ten year civil war due to the political marginalization of a populist Islamist party. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) emerged victorious with 55 percent of the vote in the first round of elections. The civil war that ensued cost more than 100,000 lives.The enigma in most Muslim countries is that the military is seemingly thought to be as more patriotic and sincere with the country than the politicians. The military sees it’s decision making mechanism to be based on the core national interest, whereas, the politicians are perceived to be pursuing decisions not necessarily in contradiction with national interests but inclined more towards garnering the most votes.
Unless this myth is expunged from the mindset of the people there will always remain a very real possibility of military interventions papered over as saving the nation from corrupt and despotic politicians. Although, a new date for elections has been set but what transpires is still to be seen.America on its part can prevent the further traction of anti-American sentiments among the Egyptian people by supporting the democratic process and preventing the forced political ouster of any party.
Similarly, the opposition, the disposed leadership of the brotherhood and the omnipresent military will have to exercise constraint and exhibit statesman like political maturity to avoid plunging Egypt into the dark abyss of coups,revolutions and counter revolutions.Only then can bring in lasting stability follow and spur the economic morass that Egypt faces.