Op-Ed: Egypt's Chance for Freedom and Democracy
The aerial view of Egypt’s cities, towns and villages across Egypt on June 30th, teaming with supporters of the Tamarud freedom movement, resembled an ant colony (industrious with a heavy load many times their weight) filling squares and streets and overflowing into neighborhoods to demand what has long been their goal – the removal of Egypt’s President.
On the one year anniversary of President Morsi’s term, hundreds of thousands of protesters (reports estimate several million) delivered a petition necessitating Mr. Morsi’s immediate resignation.
Twenty-five percent of Egypt’s population signed the petition -- roughly the same number of voters in last year’s presidential election. If this massive effort accomplishes the task and continues in its endeavors, the world will see for the first time a blueprint for a freedom revolution in the Middle East as Egypt extricates itself from a totalitarian Islamic regime.
This enormous collective action takes place now after a year of Morsi’s unfulfilled promises and the harsh evidence that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have moved away from the principles of freedom and democracy and the general welfare of the country. Demonstrating patience in the past year toward an elected President-turned dictator who orchestrated Egypt’s constitution into an Islamic Shariah document, Egyptians have seen Morsi’s agenda and conduct contravene his election promises.
Even so, the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, phoning Morsi from his South African location to respond to Egypt’s crisis, has requested that Egyptian people begin “talks” with Morsi (see Arabic Al Ahram, 6/30/13 entitled, Obama: We support democracy and peaceful protests to bring about change in Egypt). Does this mean that Mr. Obama favors a Morsi presidency over the potential for a democracy in Egypt? We know that after all the world has seen in Egypt in the past year, that Morsi’s Brotherhood- backed regime is uncompromising and can’t be trusted and is pulling Egypt backward into an Islamist state.
In the Al Ahram article cited above, a twitter statement from the U.S. State Department is quoted as President Obama saying, “… We would like to engage the opposition and President Morsi in a constructive dialogue on how to move their country forward.” It is unlikely that Egypt’s opposition movement this time around would welcome or desire such a facilitator after a long year of seeing where America’s support really lies.
The Muslim Brotherhood must be eradicated from Egypt with a Morsi departure. Morsi now appeals to the U.S. to back his desire to remain engaged in Egypt’s future political process if he were to step down now. His plea to the U.S. leadership no doubt includes his political backers as well, the Muslim Brotherhood. If this happens, Egypt’s freedom fighters will be sunk once again in a mire of lies, backwardness and obfuscations. As long as Egypt maintains a Muslim Brotherhood presence to any degree – an organizational one or an active political remnant -- freedom, human rights, equality under the law and democracy will suffer obstruction, disorder, and vengeful vendettas.
As long as Egypt maintains a Muslim Brotherhood presence to any degree – freedom, human rights, equality under the law and democracy will suffer obstruction, disorder, and vengeful vendettas.
What hopeful signs do we have at this moment, from both inside and outside Egypt, that the uprising in Egypt’s streets today – a potential turning point for freedom and human rights -- will be successful when, to be thorough, the Muslim Brotherhood must be expunged from offices and made irrelevant once again? One answer lies in Qatar, the funder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party, which already disinvested from the Muslim Brotherhood and their instrument, Morsi, some time back. Thus, Qatar’s money no longer enabled Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to buy citizen's favor and sympathy with free handouts, playing a significant role in leading the Brotherhood to this current crisis.
Just two days ago, a fearful Qatar dynasty took further steps internally against Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood workers and imams, most notably deporting Qaradawi (spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood) back to Egypt, voiding his Qatar citizenship. A festering mistrust within Qatar’s ruling family of the Brotherhood and its influence very possibly fostered a change in Qatar’s Emir a week ago from father to son. The order given by the ruling family and “the people of solution and contract” to Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to step down -- a request seen as a disgrace -- was presumably to ensure that his favor for Muslim Brotherhood appointments would be rolled back disabling Brotherhood penetration into Qatar government and institutions. His replacement, Crown Prince, Sheikh Tamim (bin Hamad al-Thani), finalized the Muslim Brotherhood severance.
Unsuccessful of either leasing the Pyramids or controlling the Suez Canal, both promised to them by the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt during this past year, Qatar proceeded to pull the financial rug out from under the Muslim Brotherhood, causing them to falter and making their weaknesses more apparent to the people. All arrogance and no foresight, the Brotherhood undervalued Qatar, their funding agent, and the Tamarud movement, their stubborn opposition, and both recognized and then took action against Brotherhood empowerment and supremacy.
Things are looking up for freedom-fighters right now. The Egyptian military firmly sides with the people and has given a 48-hour notice by radio address to Egypt’s rulers to comply with the people’s request and step down. Otherwise, the military will intervene and take action to achieve the people’s goals. Unlike January 2011, military leaders wait along side citizens for rulers to bow to their demands. As an added measure of support, the military states it will not take part in political deals as before – ones antithetical to the prevailing mood of the country.
Military leaders this time show a great sense of responsibility toward the people, which signals the Muslim Brotherhood that it must tackle the Egyptian military if it chooses to linger beyond Morsi and cause trouble. Hopefully it will not.
With the vast and complex task of building a brand new democracy before the country, two well-known pro-democratic figures have just surfaced with a TV interview suggesting a two-man team manage Egypt for six months once Morsi is gone: Ahmed Shafiq and El Baradei. If two re-cycled, yet trusted names, can hold in place a temporary interim administration, this will allow freedom-fighters to develop leadership and parties with democratic platforms – a much improved scenario from January 2011.
Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a non-profit organization educating on Christian persecution in Egypt and intolerance of Islamic regimes.