There are two extreme opinions in interpreting the events in Egypt. Those that are of the first opinion have popularly supported the toppling of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood government. They insist that allowing the Brotherhood to reach the presidency was a mistake in the first place, and what happened a month ago was simply a corrective process.
Supporters of the opposite opinion consider that defending the change in Egypt—especially on behalf of the liberals—is a major crime of conscience. Both opinions are conflicting and reveal the intellectual gap not only in Egypt but throughout the Arab world. These opinions reflect the ignorance of those who are involved in the political debate today. Some colleagues have found that what I write these days about Mursi’s ouster contradicts what I previously wrote when I “praised” the Brotherhood’s victory after the elections. This is completely untrue.
The Brotherhood’s victory indicated the success of liberal democracy. Their removal, after they went off track, was also a success—a triumph over the concept of transgression and monopolizing power. We should oust anyone who does not abide by the rules, whether they are liberals, nationalists or from the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is not true that liberals turned against their own convictions when they applauded the military coup. What Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood did was more dangerous than what Mubarak did, because they violated the conditions they had agreed on upon reaching power. They considered the ballot box as the means to dominate the country, as did Hamas in Gaza, Khomeini in Iran, and Bashir and Turabi in Sudan.
Toppling Mursi was a necessary lesson for his successors. They must realize that the majority and the presidency do not give them the right to abuse institutions and freedoms. Even in the most established democracies, corrections occur when legislators or politicians sense danger. President Richard Nixon, for example, was forced to resign after infringing on the opposing party.
Only a year after his victory in the second round of presidential elections, Mursi had seized the office of the Attorney-General, tried to control the judiciary, and remained silent when his followers physically blocked the entrance to the Constitutional Court, threatening judges if they did enter. Each of their acts is enough to hold the president to account. Constitutionally, these crimes were enough to oust him.
I support the need to involve the Muslim Brotherhood in the political process—in which there are democratic and pluralistic projects—although there are many concerns over their ability to accept a pluralistic regime that supports the transfer of power.
In fact, the Brotherhood’s inclusion is essential for any collective political action, but it needs to be disciplined so that it realizes that it is involved in a political process, not a religious one. It is astounding to witness Egypt going through a period full of complications.
What Egypt has endured—from sit-ins to dealing with the crisis, managing the transitional phase, and endorsing the intervention of the army—is a a period of education. If the Egyptians succeed in peacefully acknowledging the transitional phase, they will have reached an advanced stage of democracy.
Whichever party wins future elections should be aware that, while it has gained power, it is still controlled by the institutions. It should realize that its president is not immune to the rule of law, and that it cannot intervene in the judiciary. The winning team should defend the freedom of expression and reject violence and hatred.
Is it possible for the Egyptians to reach such a stage, which establishes the foundations of a state that is able to survive?
It certainly is. There are high hopes that Egyptians will overcome today’s crisis. Everybody in Egypt should step forward towards an integrated reconciliation that involves both the Mubarak and Mursi regimes. The country will then start a new page under a more lucid and accommodating regime.