How ironic that on US Independence Day we awake to learn that a US-bankrolled army has launched a coup against democracy in Egypt and has placed the democratically elected President Muhammad Mursi under house arrest. News reports suggest that arrest warrants have been issued against hundreds of leading figures of the largest Egyptian political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
The scenes from Cairo of hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters vocally urging the army to intervene and help them achieve through military force what they have not been able to achieve via the ballot box were depressing. Mursi and the Egyptian parliament had been elected in free and fair polls. Instead of behaving honourably and awaiting their chance to attain power at the next elections, many in the opposition had urged the army to cancel the results of the last election. How disgraceful. So much for the opposition’s democratic credentials and how telling that it was left to the so-called ‘Islamist’ President insist – until the very end – that democracy and legitimacy be respected.
The army has ruled Egypt unaccountably for 60 years since the overthrow of King Faruq so the 2012 elections which sought to put the army back under civilian control were a huge step forward. That makes the actions of the Egyptian opposition in encouraging the army to step back into power all the more saddening.
The Muslim Brotherhood have been persecuted relentlessly over the decades by the Egyptian army. But times have changed. Now every action by the Egyptian army will be under the global spotlight. Once can only hope that the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters do not allow themselves to be provoked by the violent actions of the Egyptian opposition and the army and that they remain patient and steadfast.
Elections will have to be held sooner or later. It is highly unlikely that the Egyptian people will accept a permanent return to power for the army. At that time, it is surely the Muslim Brotherhood, not their opponents – who have revealed themselves to be highly unprincipled – who will hold the higher moral ground.