ON June 30 the army generals in Egypt carried out a military coup against the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi. Like other military coups in Argentina, Honduras and many other countries, the military stepped in supposedly to make things right.
It used the will of the people as an excuse, aka mob rule and demonstrations in Tahrir Square demanding the downfall of the president and the Freedom and Justice Party, run by the Muslim Brotherhood.
For the first time in the history of the world, a coup is not a coup. The army took over, deposed and imprisoned the democratically elected president and suspended the constitution.
The temporary leadership is tasked with ruling the country under an army-backed road map to restore civilian rule, with no specific timeline to the next democratic election. There is also deepening concern about its connection with Mubarak-era leaders.
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I will be the first to acknowledge that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had serious flaws, ranging from lack of communications and expectations-setting with the population, to conducting themselves in a secretive manner in the way they appointed people and adjusted laws.
Further, the Brotherhood failed to address immediate pains, such as the availability of affordable diesel fuel, which many Cairo taxis use. Still, the Muslim Brotherhood remains the only democratically elected entity in the country’s 5,000-year history and Morsi should have completed his four-year term. The opposition was no better; not once was any form of reconciliation accepted or constructive criticism given.
Morsi inherited a country in turmoil after 1½ years of another failed interim military junta, and 30 years of Mubarak’s rule (during which he imprisoned, tortured and terrorized the population and treated the economy like his personal piggy-bank account).
The net impact is that the population is now even more divided than ever. This includes the local Egyptian community in Seattle and across other cities in the U.S. Many people in these communities were united during the real revolution against the Mubarak regime.
We had street protests in Bellevue, where people in a passing car recognized the Egyptian flag and cheered us on, thinking we were pro-coup. Upon closer inspection, they disavowed their support when they realized that this gathering was pro-Morsi.
The protesters are still out on the street all over Egypt as well, and the positive momentum of the revolution is now gone.
We are back to the military appointing puppets and Mubarak-era judges with no definitive timeline for another real election. Furthermore, a precedent has been set that by marching on the street again and again, we can overthrow majority-elected ruling heads of state. But worst of all, we haven’t had a chance to break in a real democratic process that runs a full four-year term.
As I had a chance to celebrate Fourth of July again this year, and Canada Day the same week, I became even more convinced that unity and the willingness to accept the outcome of a fair election, no matter how strongly you feel about the other side, is the real road to a stable democracy.
Alaa Badr is an Egyptian-American Muslim who lives in Seattle. He is an environmental activist and a technology evangelist.