Morsi's Ouster a Triumph for Democracy

Article Summary
Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany argues that while the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi was a legitimate step, the people must beware the return of the old regime.

No matter how hard the Muslim Brotherhood tries to deceive itself, the truth remains clear: More than 30 million Egyptians took to the streets and overthrew the Brotherhood rule through popular will.

The question is: Was the ouster of [deposed President] Mohammed Morsi, in this manner, a democratic act? In any democratic system, the parliament has the right to withdraw confidence from an elected president before the end of his term. At that time, the president resigns and early presidential elections are held. The parliament's job is to represent the people in exercising power. Thus, if the parliament is absent, then it is up to the people to exercise power themselves. Morsi became president through the votes of 13 million Egyptians, while the Tamarod campaign was able to collect 22 million signatures to withdraw confidence from him. Then, more than 30 million Egyptians took to the streets to demand he step down.

The Egyptian populace decided to end the Brotherhood's rule, and Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the leader of the army, had no choice but to implement the rule of the people and save Egypt from an imminent civil war. Thus, the army did not carry out a military coup. Rather, they implemented the will of the people amid exceptionally difficult circumstances that nearly led to the collapse of the state.

A military coup, by definition, is when the military uses force to take power. The army, however, announced from the outset that it was not seeking power, but rather interfering to implement the will of the people to isolate a president who had lost his legitimacy. Morsi lost legitimacy three times. First, when he issued a declaration that put his own individual will above the Constitution and the law, fortified the illegitimate Constituent Assembly [with Brotherhood members] and issued an illegitimate constitution. He also fortified the illegitimate Shura Council [with Brotherhood members] and used it as a legislative tool to issue whatever laws the Brotherhood wanted. Next, he lost legitimacy when more than 100 martyrs died during his reign. Finally, he lost legitimacy for a third time when millions of Egyptians signed the Tamarod campaign and took to the streets to withdraw confidence in him.

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Thus, the ouster of Morsi in this manner was a completely democratic procedure. The will of the people triumphed and overthrew the Brotherhood rule. It is, however, useful to remember a few facts:

First, since the March 2011 referendum, the revolution has been pushed in the wrong direction — it has been stripped of its energy and distanced from its goals. Now, Egyptians are reclaiming their revolution and the people have demonstrated that they are the ones who hold power. The time has come to achieve the objectives for which the revolution was carried out. The army's leadership has changed, and the new leadership has proven that its desire to preserve the nation's interests comes before compliance to international pressure or affiliation with the Brotherhood.

Likewise, the police have learned their lesson from the revolution and thousands of officers refused to be used once again as a tool to protect an authoritarian regime. All of the state's apparatuses united with the people to liberate Egypt from the Brotherhood, and they developed a roadmap for a democratic transition that includes representatives from different walks of life: the Coptic pope, the sheikh of Al-Azhar, and representatives from the Salafist Al-Nour Party. We are in need of a national consensus, but at the same time we should not tolerate those who break the law and should not succumb to blackmail from any political faction, regardless of its influence. Change will not occur in Egypt unless those who carried out the revolution come to power.

Second, for 30 years the Muslim Brotherhood was used as a scarecrow to justify tyranny. Former President Hosni Mubarak's logic was that the Egyptian people were not ready for democracy. He believed that any fair election would result in the Brotherhood coming to power and no one would be able to get rid of them, since they used religion as a weapon, something that would always influence the minds of ordinary Egyptians. This logic degrades the people, considering them ignorant and incapable of distinguishing and making decisions for themselves.

In just one year, Egyptians were able to realize the difference between Islam and political Islam. The people discovered that the Brotherhood were using religion for political goals, and not abiding by its principles. In the Brotherhood's view, anything was permissible to reach power. Yet on June 30, the "scarecrow" of the Brotherhood ended forever. The image of 30 million Egyptians opposing the Brotherhood and leading Friday prayer in the squares was a message to the entire world that true religion cannot be used for political purposes. However, the Brotherhood's rule, although a painful experience, greatly benefited Egypt and its revolution, because it revealed the true nature of the Brotherhood to everyone. The rule of the Brotherhood was a necessary, yet delayed, test. But Egyptians paid a heavy price for this delay, since their fear of the Brotherhood kept them under tyranny. The myth of the Brotherhood has ended and in the future, if they renounce violence, they will form a right-wing party, like all other conservative parties in the world.

Third, perhaps now army commander Sisi's team realizes that the harsh criticism revolutionaries directed at the military council never detracted from the respect they have for the nation's army. The former military council is still responsible for the crimes and massacres that occurred during its era, when many people were martyred. Yet, our continued demand that those who are responsible for the deaths of martyrs be tried does not prevent us from supporting the army in its great national role, when the latter aligns with the will of the people. Likewise, the fact that we are pleased that good relations have been restored between the police and the people does not prevent us from demanding vengeance for the martyrs who were killed by police officers.

Fourth, Brotherhood leaders never imagined that the people would turn against them so quickly. Their loss of power by popular will was the biggest shock they have ever received in their history, and thus they responded with violence. They know that Morsi will not come back to power, but they have sent their followers to attack the people and state institutions. This is aimed at bringing about chaos, thus allowing their ally, President Barack Obama, to intervene under the pretext of calming the situation, and they can snatch whatever gains possible.

Fifth, when the runoff presidential election was held between a representative of the old regime, Ahmed Shafiq, and Morsi, the Brotherhood's candidate, Egyptians found themselves between a rock and a hard place. Those who had participated in the revolution were unable to vote for Shafiq, who was merely another Mubarak. Thus, some of them boycotted the election, while others voted for the Brotherhood's candidate. The latter did not vote for Morsi because they were convinced by him, but rather to prevent the Mubarak regime from returning to power. The position these people were in was described by Abdel-Halim Qandil when he said: "The choice was between the disgraceful Shafiq, who would restore the old regime, and the 'fire' of the Brotherhood, whose danger we knew. However, I prefer 'fire' to 'disgrace.'" There was another segment of Egyptians whose fear of the Brotherhood was greater than their desire to preserve the revolution, so they voted for Shafiq.

Those who overthrew the Brotherhood's rule are not one kind of people, rather they represent three types of Egyptians. There are ordinary Egyptians who trusted the Brotherhood in the beginning, and soon suffered from their crimes and lies. They discovered that they were acting as a criminal gang without morals or principles. The second group of people comprises the revolutionaries who feel anger and bitterness toward the Brotherhood as a result of the latter's repeatedly betraying the revolution in to achieve their own interests. The third group is made up of remnants of the old regime, who exploited the popular anger against the Brotherhood to emerge and join the battle against the group, but only in order to achieve their own goals.

The military council had preserved the Mubarak regime and left it untouched. Then came the Brotherhood, who — always opportunistic — decided to ally with the remnants of the old regime to support them in their plan to control the state. Yet these old regime supporters didn’t trust the Brotherhood, and they were working to revive the Mubarak regime.

The old regime remnants spent millions of Egyptian pounds on media, and this played an important role in exposing the Brotherhood’s crimes and encouraging Egyptians to rebel against them. Yet, if one looks closely at their media rhetoric, it becomes clear that, in the midst of the legitimate war against the Brotherhood, there are also messages against the revolution. The symbols of the Mubarak regime have returned to the forefront of the scene. They aren’t only hostile toward the Brotherhood, they’re hostile toward the revolution, as they were before the Brotherhood even came to power. It’s no coincidence that we see media figures, politicians and journalists who complied with Mubarak and benefited from his regime now at the forefront of Egypt’s conflict against the Brotherhood “gang.”

As the revolution moves forward, it is faced with two dangers. The first is the military’s return to power and the second is the Mubarak regime’s return. In my opinion, the first danger is out of the question, because the army doesn’t desire to rule and supports the people in achieving their will as a result of purely nationalistic motivations. The second danger, however, is possible and imminent. When drafting the new constitution, [supporters of] the revolution must ensure that legal and constitutional measures are adopted that prevent anyone who oppressed, plundered or degraded the Egyptian people from returning to power.

Democracy is the solution. 

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Found in: mubarak regime, mubarak, military, al-nour
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