Published on Left Foot Forward, by Tom London, July 5, 2013.
… However, the lack of broad electoral support for the views of those revolutionaries was very clearly demonstrated in the presidential election in 2012.
Only the top two candidates from the 1st round in May went through to the 2nd round in June. No candidate who was attractive to secular liberal voters came close to making it to the 2nd round which was contested between Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafik, who was the last prime minister appointed by Mubarak and closely identified with his regime.
Given the influence of Islam, centuries of authoritarian rule and the conduct of Western foreign policy in the region, it should be no surprise that Egyptian political culture is not particularly receptive to liberal views identified with the West.
It is not only their lack of electoral support that makes power a distant prospect for Egyptian liberals. It is also the part they have played in the events of recent days. They were the prime movers in the demonstrations which led to the army deposing the elected president Mohammed Morsi – an event they are celebrating enthusiastically.
They have thereby undermined one of the fundamental tenets of their own professed beliefs. In democracies elected governments should not be changed by military coups.
The fact that the liberals have supported this happening may prove disastrous for their credibility. In the New York Times, for example, there is an interview with Mohamed ElBaradei, who is described as “Egypt’s most prominent liberal”. ElBaradei defends the coup, the large scale arrests of leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the closing down of certain TV stations.
Of course, the argument is made that Morsi was somehow ‘not legitimate, not democratic’. It is undoubtedly true that serious criticisms can be made of Morsi. Democracy is about more than simply voting. It is not a clear-cut issue, all countries sit on a continuum – the Scandinavian countries are all more democratic than Italy or the USA, for example.
However, to justify a military coup against a president properly elected only 12 months previously would need crystal clear and compelling grounds which have not been produced by Morsi’s opponents.
Many Egyptians; and particularly those of the 51.7 per cent who voted in 2012 for their first democratically elected leader in their country’s 5,000 year history, will see the removal of Morsi as revealing a sham the democracy championed by liberals and the West … //
… (full text).
Islamism, Violence and Reform in Algeria: Turning the Page (Islamism in North Africa III), Middle East Report N°29, on International Crisis Group, 30 July 2004.