Thursday, July 4, 2013

How portentous is this coup?

Some of us have been watching events in Egypt closely. A commenter here (who lives in Egypt) recently asked for our prayers. ++Mouneer has asked for our prayers. We should pray and keep on praying for peace in that amazing country, one of the 'biblical lands.'

Now as I write the breaking news is that Morsi has been toppled. In part this seems a reassertion of the power of the military (and to that extent, a triumph for previous President Mubarak, a military man's supporters). In part it is a triumph of people power - people dissatisfied with the Islamicization of Egypt under the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is the latter which may be portentous for the world. The creeping power of Sharia zealots, whether dominantly in (say) Pakistan, Syria and Afghanistan, or surreptitiously in (say) England is worrying. But is Egypt now a sign that the people, even in Arab lands, will only take so much conservatism?

Here is an intriguing argument, that in Egypt the liberals are not democrats and the democrats are not liberals!


Father Ron Smith said...

There are actually people in Egypt who have expressed their distaste for the sort of state-sponsored religion that the dispossessed former President seemed to recently be moving them towards. In this respect, Egypt could be entering into a more equable society. Theocratic states can often be instruments of violence & Injustice.

Bryden Black said...

While a little dated in light of the rapidity of events these past few days, this post is still insightful:

Chris Nimmo said...

This whole affair seems to me to have perhaps more in common with the overthrow of Thaksin Shinawatra than anything else - a democratically elected populist leader overthrown by the military after protests by the middle class (who just happen to be the people who are most likely to protest).

(I like neither Morsi nor Shinawatra, but I do find the circumstances of their political demises disturbing)

Father Ron Smith said...

It seems that Bishop Mouneer Annis is in favour of the coup (info per vol). Am i right in thinking that this could be contrary to the hopes of some who believe that Egypt might descend into chaos?

Obviously the good bishop believes that Morsi's edging towards a theocratic state would be counter productive of hopes for peace. I guess that being z faith leader in Egypt, he would be in a good position to assess the relative merits of the current situation.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Generally military dictatorships in the Middle East have been kinder to Christian communities than Islamicized governments, whether popularly elected or not.

Andrew Reid said...

Here is Bishop Mouneer's latest statement on the situation, celebrating the removal of Morsi.

I understand and respect his view, which most of my Egyptian Christian colleagues and friends also share, but I respectfully disagree. Here's why:
- The 15 months of military rule following the 2011 revolution were actually far worse for Christians than during the Mubarak years or the MB presidency, as bad as they were. The Maspero massacre, church attacks, NGO crackdown, and other violence (Port Said, Mostafa Mahmoud St) all happened during military rule.
- If the opposition forces organised themselves into effective political parties, they could beat the MB at the ballot box, the proper place to overthrow a government.
- I am really concerned that the political door is being shut in the face of the MB, and it will push them back to extremism. Some 300 arrest warrants have been issued for their leaders. Since the 2011 revolution, the country has had an influx of illegal weapons. We have already seen a violent attack on protesters, and it is possible we face a continued violent reaction by those who feel they are being excluded from the political process, yet represent a significant proportion of Egypt's people.
- When we elect a new president at some point in the future, will we call in the army if he loses popular support as well? You can't build a democracy on the foundations of a military intervention.

Anyway, please pray that the violent attacks will stop, that we can achieve a broad-based process towards a new constitution and new elections, and that Christians are salt and light whatever the circumstances.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Andrew.
A very interesting insight, thank you.
An analogy could be Fiji.
Once they went down the military coup route, there seems to be no turning back to true democracy.

Andrew Reid said...

I don't think it's as bad as Fiji, Peter.
There were massive protests calling for the military to intervene, rather than a general or group of officers deciding they wanted to help themselves to some power. And when the army came on TV, they were flanked by the Al Azhar sheikh, Coptic Pope, Salafi party leader, Tamarod leader (signature for Morsi's removal campaign), and Mohamed El Baradei. So there was broad support. But the risk of a repeat is certainly high.