Live by the mob, die by the mob


Mobs confront police

Mobs confront police

It was the Egyptian “mob” that brought Muhammad Mursi into power and it was the same mob that swept him out of power.  During the interim he managed to do some things for his country but in the minds of many alienated himself and his party from the majority of Egyptians.

Immediately after his rise, ascent to power, Mursi was faced with the usual Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and particularly in  Gaza.  No doubt he was being goaded by Israel in order to test his mettle.  His response was he  surprisingly managed the situation in a way to avoid further aggression and even win the praise of some in the West. At the same time he helped Gazans in a show of humanitarianism  rarely seen in Middle East politics.

Despite the intense economic difficulties facing Egypt Mursi refused to devalue the Egyptian pound, which would lower export costs and might be a short-term fix but have a negative impact for a  majority of Egyptians.  He was in the process of negotiating with the IMF for a loan that some said was necessary  but wanted, during his negotiations, to  avert the catastrophe of the ’70s when there was an increase in prices due to the IMF mandated reduction of government subsidies for necessities.  He almost seemed to be adhering to a GOP platform of no new taxes, refusing to raise taxes on  alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and a range of goods and services because of the impact it would have on Egyptians. Surprisingly, he and the IMF were even negotiating on those issues.

Mursi, however didn’t help himself much with some really stupid mistakes, like decreeing to himself powers that resembled the actions of a dictator, only to rescind such decrees a month later

The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has scrapped a decree that had generated widespread unrest by awarding him near-absolute powers…..

Selim al-Awa, an official who attended a “national dialogue meeting” called by Morsi at the presidential palace in Cairo but boycotted by his opponents, said the Islamist-dominated discussion recommended removing articles that granted the president powers to declare emergency laws and shield him from judicial oversight.

 

and having the baggage of the Muslim Brotherhood, that much maligned Islamic party certainly didn’t help Mursi’s chances with many Egyptians and others across the Arab world who feared a politically strong Islamist power  in the most powerful and populous Arab country.

Victim of the military's justice in Cairo

Victim of the military’s justice in Cairo

The problem with Mursi’s rise to power is that it was done at the behest of the mob and mobs by definition are unruly, lawless masses of people who are not visionary which is what is needed to govern, but rather reactionary by nature.  After 30 years of Mubarak’s despotic rule Egyptians had had enough and took their frustrations to the streets.  They were confronted by an army whose sole interest is remaining in power, no matter who the titular head of Egypt may be.  That army owns upwards of 40% of Egypt’s gross domestic product, it is a money making franchise for some but it is also brutal and often times as lawless as the mob it faces.

Mursi and his supporters hitched their political aspirations to the mob and upon seizing power diplomatically changed the make-up of the army.  It appeared the transition was smooth, but obviously it wasn’t because one year later the opposition’s mob used the same military to takeover power from Mursi in what could only be described as a banana  republic like act of political gamesmanship. One can expect that the same thing could happen again after whatever period of time passes. Even in the face of a Constitution, mob rule can negate at will laws and systems merely by taking to the streets and asking the military to join with it and if the population is used to, acquiesces to such displays of opposition the “when” just becomes a matter of time.

Trying to chart change by any yardstick to ANY party in power after a period of one year is inherently an exercise in futility. Using western models of political success for a government taking over the reins from a 30 year dictatorship is immature at best, doomed to failure at worse and so it (the Morsi government) was.  Articles appeared which sought to chart Morsi’s success after the first 100 days in office as if he possessed a magic wand that could change everything wrong with Egypt so shortly after Mubarak’s regime.  Mursi was even given a report card that detailed what he did and did not do, as if he alone was the catalyst for change among a nation mired in neglect and overwhelming collapse.  When the obvious happened, i.e. he could not produce for Egypt what it was promised after one year, the mob took to the streets and exclaimed it was only doing what was necessary to protect the country.  One tweeter eloquently said, ‘You can call Egypt’s opposition groups many things, but not “liberal” — liberals don’t support military coups. Emerging secular extremism’….. a rather scary foreboding of what’s to come, perhaps.  Sadly, the same could have applied to Mursi’s climb to power a year ago, with the help of the same military.

mobruleEgypt therefore joins the ranks of those countries in the Arab spring that have not yet reached their zenith and are still societies of chaos and strife.  Palestine, Syria, Iraq, perennially Lebanon are all embroiled in some sort of prolonged armed struggle which has disrupted the lives of its citizens and now Egypt can be added to the list.  Also, it’s interesting to note all of these countries are contiguous to or neighbors of Israel which profits militarily and economically from the instability of her neighbors by increased American largesse.  There are still other countries on the periphery with unrest, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, which mars social cohesion and prosperity and endangers peace.  Moreover, indefinite instability is never good for any country, and the fact that Egyptians so quickly embraced it is almost suicidal for its hopes of an upturn in the economy, but they’ve gone down that road and there’s no turning back.

egypthistoryWhat is equally troubling is too many in the West seem to encourage Egyptians to use yardsticks that are wholly inappropriate for what it is Egypt is facing.  What democracy can expect a 180 degree turn in the political direction of a country of 82.5 million people in anything less than decades?  How can it be that a society as old as Egypt, centuries old some would say extending to the very beginning of mankind, should expect a political reconstruction in anything less than years and why is it that people with  internal clocks that date to the Pharaohs feel the need to be in such a hurry?  It almost seems as if  it’s against their nature.   The usual course of affairs in democracies is ineffective leaders are voted out of office, not run out as was the case with Mursi.  Why anyone from a western styled democracy would suggest anything other than that for Egyptians is suspicious.  Democracies are big ships with many different captains at the helm who must all work in sync with one another.  When brought together for the first time, the cooperation needed to successfully guide the ship of state takes time..years, not months.  Almost six years after the waning days of the Bush Administration, America is still trying to recover from merely 8 years of unbridled spending and rampant military  adventurism which pales in comparison to 30 years of Mubarak’s rule.   Do Egyptians think they possess some other other worldly recuperative powers that can rebuild their country so quickly?

Hardly. Let us hope the disease for the change of power at the hands of mobs is quickly replaced in Egypt with true representative government  that’s instituted not at the threat of a gun barrel but by participatory democracy.  This must be the goal and the means to be employed by all concerned, those in power today and those who oppose them.

 

 

Just when you thought it was safe…..


to think the new Egyptian president might lead his country into post Hosni Mubarak era filled with political stability for his country and economic recovery Muhammad Morsi had to go and do something as stupid as this

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi issued decrees giving himself broad powers and effectively neutering the judiciary.

All laws and decisions by the president are final, cannot be appealed, overturned or halted by the courts or other bodies. This applies to decisions he has made since taking office in June and any he makes until a new constitution is approved and a new parliament is elected, expected in the spring at the earliest.

The president can take any steps or measures necessary to prevent threats to “the revolution, the life of the nation or national unity and security” or to the functioning of state institutions.

and it goes without saying, and justifiably so, many people in Egypt see this for what it is, a broad and sweeping grab for power.  Fresh off the revolution that swept Morsi into  power, Egyptians took to the streets to protest Morsi’s announcements which caught many off guard, including Miscellany101, who days before tweeted, ‘Can we say a re-elected Obama and an”Islamist” Egypt put the brakes on Israel’s bloodlust?’

President Morsi meets EU Council President, He...

 

Morsi’s decrees also come after others who made similar and equally glowing assessments of the president’s positive influence on regional affairs. Egypt’s President Morsi feted for negotiating role, proclaimed The Telegraph, which said Morsi is now Washington’s friend and a man of peace.  The Guardian, perhaps a little more prophetically said in its banner headline, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi proves a deft, adroit and ruthless leader and one has to wonder what did Morsi think would be the response to his power grab on the part of people who are so finely tuned to oppression and ruthlessness after decades of Mubarak rule and who still have the sweat drenched, blood soaked clothes from Tahrir Square demonstrations and the various weapons or social media, social and international contacts, they amassed during that time!  No matter what Morsi might have accomplished vis-a-vis Gaza and the bloodbath that was sure to occur at the hands of an unfettered and criminal Israeli regime, many people in Egypt  view the decrees of an Egyptian president that gave himself limitless powers over his country in much the same negative light as an Israeli invasion force in Gaza. In the absence of a firm date for ratification of the Constitution which Morsi said was the reason for his latest decrees, and given how power is such a seductive drug to the initiated and uninitiated alike, one can only moan in despair at a wholly inappropriate, dare I say illegal or immoral, act of unrestrained and raw individual/party power.   What he has done is further alienated himself and his party among the people of Egypt  who view his moves as done for personal aggrandizement and not for the benefit of  Egyptian society.

The Oppression of Egyptian women under military rule


We may never know the name of the woman pictured here who was brutalized by the Egyptian army in horrific ways, but she is symbolic of what happens to Egyptians, men and particularly women, under the military rule of the government of Egypt.  There is nothing that this woman could have done to merit the public treatment she received at the hands of the men in this picture.  We will never know if the men are Christian or Muslim……does it matter, they  disrobed her purposefully and publicly and beat her mercilessly and senselessly.    This is the fate of women who protest against the government of Egypt and it doesn’t matter to the thugs who participate in this mass orgy of violence and sexual humiliation whether their victims are Muslim, Christian, Jewish,  Egyptian or foreign, expressions of dissent of any form is not tolerated and public examples must be made of those who violate that unwritten tradition or culture.  This is the face of totalitarianism, not Islam, of autocratic militarism that has plagued Egyptian society, our ally, for over 30 years.  It is what Lara Logan saw and faced during her last visit to Tahrir Square.  It is raw, naked brutal, and it is ugly.  You can read about what else women in Egypt are facing and have faced from the military regime here.  The accounts there are demoralizing, and inhumane and characteristic of military rule which has its own precepts and pillars, in that part of the world.

Killed Because of Her Religion


marwaEurope is leading the way in racist, homo/Islamophobia, almost like a throwback to the days of a young Adolph Hitler who then targeted Jews.   The tragedy which occurred in a German court room in front of judges and lawyers reflects the depth of Europe’s fanaticism.  A young Egyptian wife, mother and academic, yes she was all three, who also practiced her religion as she interpreted it and wore a scarf on her hair, was stabbed 18 times in a crime that hasn’t graced the pages of main stream media in America.  She was killed because she was exercising her citizenship by taking her attacker to court for a previous assault he had committed against her.  What’s even more heinous is her husband who was in the court room at the time and who came to her aid was shot by German police as he tried to subdue the killer…….quite naturally because an Arab Muslim is more likely to be a criminal, than an unemployed  Russian German, was probably the rationale for the officer who shot him.  People who look different, who are  not quite WASPy in appearance in Europe have a tendency to be shot sight unseen by the local police force.

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Marwa al-Sherbini’s problem wasn’t with the police however, but with some German guy motivated by his hatred for Muslims who was able to assault his victim twice, once in a park where he first saw and interacted with her and again in front of the police and judicial authority.  This happened  because the atmosphere in Europe is fueled by hatred of Muslims and Islam, and part of that fuel is supplied by xenophobic politicans seeking a political advantage over their rivals in government by plying on the fears and hatred of their constituents.  This is accompanied by selective reporting by the media, which is obsequious to the power of government, which reports acts of racism and bigotry that target one group of people in which it is assumed real power is vested while ignoring acts of terror perpetuated against or by other groups.

Marwa was a victim and her perpetrator was a terrorist, but Marwa was also victimzed by a wave of anti-Islam euphoria which is promoted, tolerated and excused by large segments of European society.  The reaction of Muslims to the murder of al-Sherbini has been muted and dignified.  Had there been the hysteria most westerners associate with Muslim reaction to anything, it would have garnered front page coverage, featured prominently in every journal and newscast, while the reason for such outburst simply ignored.  The head of one of the leading Islamic universities in the world has gone on record saying that the Germans should exact the strictest punishment applicable under German law to the offender while family members echoed that refrain.  Indeed every citizen of Europe should feel and say the same.  For too long, western countries have talked a good fight when it comes to equality and liberty.  It’s now time to walk the walk and apply it against those who use terror as a weapon, whether they be the angriest of Muslims or the fairest skin  Europeans.