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October 8, 2013

Egypt: Back to revolution

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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Two months after Egypt's events of June 30, a domestic opinion poll found 68 percent of the respondents call the events a "revolution." But the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters in Egypt, Qatar and Turkey and some of the pro-democracy activists in the West still deny that the events should be called a "revolution."

To term the events in Egypt a “revolution” would seem straightforward; they are so lacking in “plotting” associated with “true” coup.

But the name that should be given to Egypt’s events of June 30; a revolution, a coup or a popular uprising may not ever be resolved. In other revolutions, such as in the Romanian and the Portuguese revolutions the issue has yet to be settled, 25 and 40 years later respectively.

Not only the name given to these important events of June 30 is at issue here but also if these events are simply a continuation of Egypt’s revolution of January 25, 2011 that toppled the Mubarak’s regime.

Egyptian revolutionary youth are proud to get rid of two tyrants, one secular and the other an Islamist, with the help of the nation’s armed forces in both cases, in 30 months. And the Egyptians, true to their character never took revenge and executed either one, but the fate of the two tyrants was left to a court of law.

Despite their election of a president on June 30, 2012, the people of Egypt had discovered one year later that their revolution was not complete.

Indeed, the end of any revolution is notoriously difficult to pin down, because, while it is essentially a political phenomenon, the term also bears of wider cultural and socioeconomic change and this, by its very nature, tends to be a long process,” says political science professor Dr. Peter Siani-Davies of the University College London.

Worse, Egyptians to their horror discovered that their revolution took a wrong turn on the hands of an extreme religious group, The Muslim Brotherhood, tearing the country apart; petting Muslims against Christians, fanatics against moderates, and the people against their armed forces and police force.

Instead the Brotherhood was working 24/7 to turn the country into a theocracy against the will of academics, judges, lawyers, labor, farmers, artists, youth, women groups, the Church, Al-Azahar, moderate Muslims, the police and the armed forces.

Moreover they approved a regressive Islamist constitution, with only 20 percent of the registered voters, that discriminates against Christians and women.

In their first year of power, the Brotherhood’s leaders kept reminding everyone that they intend to stay in power, by all means necessary, “for the next 500 years” not just the next 5.

In fact, it was not the people’s fault to elect the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi as a president. They elected him based on his election program which was clearly in line with the objectives of their revolution; he would work hard to build a modern country with a liberal democracy where every citizen, including the Christian minority is equal, and a country that uses its resources to achieve economical development and at the same time establishes social justice.

However, the 8 million Christians and moderate Muslims who had voted for him (only about 5 million of those who claim that they are the only Muslims voted for him) never imagined that Morsi will cheat them and work instead to turn their country into a theocracy.

Barak Obama in his UN address last week seems to finally understand, “Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected but proved unwilling or unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive. The interim government that replaced him responded to the desires of millions of Egyptians who believed the revolution had taken a wrong term.”

Egypt’s events of June 30 fit more the model of a revolution than a coup.

“Coups d’etat are generally seen simpler affairs than revolutions,” says Prof. Siani-Davies in his book about the Romanian revolution, “They involve a sudden attack on a government and usually restricted in their objectives.”

“Even if Ceausescu had fallen in a coup, this need not have prevented the events in Romania bearing the name revolution. It seems that within a revolution a coup can just be the surface manifestation of much deeper currents of change. The events of December 1989 do not readily fit the image of coup d’etat; even if they would necessary nullify the idea of revolution,” he added.

In the case of Egypt, the outset of Morsi by the military was preceded by a mass mobilization involving millions over three months, estimated to be close to half of the population, and it was anything but “sudden”.

Those still charge that the events of June 30 was a coup seem to only have in mind the mechanics of Morsi’s removal, but not his regressive anti-revolution anti-democracy deeds during his first year in power, not becoming an elected president-turned-a-dictator, and not the necessity for Egyptians to go back to revolution.

Egyptian-born Canadian Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is Professor Emeritus of Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He spends half of his time in Egypt and has been immersed in its politics for the last 10 years.

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