Point of View

In Egypt, an impeachment by the masses, not a coup

July 8, 2013 

It might appear that what happened in Egypt was a military coup to depose of a democratically elected president but, looking at history, one could reach a different conclusion.

Turkey went through a similar experiment. Necmettin Erbakan was a political party leader who became prime minister of Turkey in 1996. In 1997 he was pressured by the military to step down and was later banned from politics by the constitutional court. Erbakan’s ruling Welfare Party was subsequently banned by the courts, which judged that the party had an agenda to promote Islamic fundamentalism in the state. Erbakan was barred again from active politics.

President Mohammed Morsi, a member of Muslim Brotherhood, was elected through a representative democracy. He reneged on promises he made to the Egyptian people – Islamists and non-Islamists alike. Instead of creating an inclusive government and drafting a constitution to meet the aspiration of all Egyptians, he understood democracy as one man, one vote and one time. Morsi neglected the essential needs of the people, running an incompetent administration that has led to fuel and gas shortages and electricity cuts, skyrocketing prices for commodities and a country on the brink of bankruptcy.

Egyptians did not accept democracy to be only through the ballot box, giving a mandate for the winner to take all, excluding everyone who did not vote for him. Democracy is a process and not an event that ends on Election Day. Egyptians understood real democracy to be an inclusive government, transparency, compromise and respect of all citizens’ right of assembly and protest.

The Egyptians have lost fear and realized that political change can be effected only through mass mobilization, a form of direct democracy. They could not wait another three years as the country spiraled until the next election. They felt their dreams for a better life, freedom and real democracy fading away.

Given the lack of an impeachment process in the current constitution, it is not surprising that the activists, intellectuals and dissenters who were the impetus for the January 25, 2011, revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak created a mass movement called “Tamarod” or “Rebellion” and collected 22 million signatures calling for the removal of Morsi from office, the draft of a new constitution that represent all the Egyptians and early presidential elections.

One month ago, upon my return from a visit to Egypt, I was asked about the mood there. “Anger,” I said, in the streets about to explode.

On June 30, it did indeed explode. Millions responded to the Tamarod call by marching in the streets and squares all over Egypt, It was an impeachment process by the masses. The military only responded to the demand of the people. It did not take over power but promised to implement a road map toward real democracy, a new constitution and parliamentary and presidential elections to follow.

Adly Mansour, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, was appointed as interim president. A week later, still millions are packed in Tahrir square and all over Egypt to ensure that the revolution will continue until their demands are fulfilled.

The Muslim Brotherhood committed many mistakes during the past year. It began to erode individual freedoms and tried to impose its vision of society on the people. The rule of the Brotherhood spells disaster to Egypt and to the whole Middle East. Stable, democratic and moderate Egypt is in the best interest of the United States.

Whether it is Egypt, Turkey or Brazil, the masses have risen against governments that divide and cannot deliver promises and a better future to their people. It remains to be seen whether the Egyptian activists with the assistance of the military and other parties will be able to provide a viable alternative with a truly democratic core to start the process of healing and repairing the damage inflicted not only by the Muslim Brotherhood, but also by the Mubarak regime.

Adel Mohamed, M.D., is a urologist in Raleigh.

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