There are dueling theories emerging from the ashes of what is the most recent overthrow of a government in the Islamic world. Some are arguing that the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian military was an overwhelmingly positive thing for democratic values. The other side is building a case that the coup and overthrow of a democratically elected government and constitution can never be a good thing, no matter how ugly the government it creates.
Like many of you, I watched with deep interest as the events in Egypt unfolded… even though CNN kept trying to get me to pay attention to the Zimmerman trial.
I am always happy to see an Islamic theocracy overthrown, especially one that torments Christians and is openly hostile to the interests of the United States. So, if I’m being honest, I was hopeful that the Brotherhood would fall and fall hard. When the cameras showed people celebrating in the streets and the military had seemed to calmly take control and installed a non military leader into power – I hoped.
I hoped and still hope that this coup will lead to a more democratic and less oppressive Egypt, for all Egyptians, whether Muslim or not. I hope that this will be a turning point in American-Egyptian relations and that they will join us as allies in the war on terror and in stamping out rabid Islamic fundamentalism. As a hopeful pessimist, I don’t think things will end in a best-case scenario, but I hope they do.
Some are arguing that my initial feelings were right, that the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood is indeed a good day for Egypt and for the West. Michael Goodwin outlines their argument for the New York Times:
“The first goal is to protect America’s security and interests. Everything else is second. That formula explains why Mohammed Morsi’s election doesn’t trump other all other considerations. After all, Hamas won an election in Gaza, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won two elections in Iran. Hitler was elected, and so was Saddam Hussein. Elections in police-state societies can be a step in the right direction, or they can be used as a blank check to further entrench power by a ruling elite aiming for dictatorial authority. Morsi was definitely in that camp.”
He is right, of course; the events surrounding the election of Mohammed Morsi were highly volatile and the best prepared group was the Muslim Brotherhood, which was likely their key to winning in the election. The Brotherhood used intimidation tactics and positioned Morse not as an establishment candidate but as a “moderate”, giving the sense that if the Egyptian people picked him he would side with them while appeasing the Brotherhood. The turbulent events that centered on the election made it ripe for hostile takeover by the Brotherhood, and they took advantage.
However, there is a vocal group (including much of the TV media) who believe that the overthrow of the Egyptian government was and is bad for democratic values. James Crotty from the liberal flagship the Huffington Post says:
“Nevertheless, the Egyptian military’s removal of the Brotherhood’s duly elected representative after only one year in office is a coup. And it is disingenuous for the here-to-fore level-headed diplomat, Mohamed El Baradei, to re-characterize this military overthrow as a “recall.” In addition, it is especially disingenuous — even corrupt — for this former presidential candidate, who lost to Morsi in a free and fair election, to support what he terms an “extra-constitutional” intervention, especially when El Baradei or a surrogate is a likely beneficiary.”
For now, the argument will continue here in the west, but in Egypt where blood is being shed it has become elementary. The real question for the people involved in the turmoil in Egypt is “what will happen now?” I hope that what we see develop in Egypt is an open and free society that values true democratic principle and not the principles of a theocratic Islamic republic.
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