I’m not an unconditional fan of President Morsi, and I find him slow to address the population’s needs. However, Morsi did something that was absolutely essential, and which was unheard of in Egypt: he managed to take the power out of the hands of the military. [In August 2012, President Morsi fired General Tantawi, who was then president of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), from his position as defence minister.] This is the first time in 60 years that Egypt has a purely civil government, and, for this alone, I believe Morsi deserves respect.
However, the army has not accepted this turn of events and is now looking to get back into power, by any means possible. I am absolutely against this, whether it takes the form of an exclusively military government, like we had during the transitional period after the revolution, or whether it’s the army overseeing a civil government.
In this video published on Youtube, members of the Muslim Brotherhood accuse the police of siding with anti-Morsi protesters.
The army is trying to legitimise its involvement in this crisis by invoking popular demand [on Monday, the SCAF’s president called on political parties to “respond to the people’s demands”]. But what people are we talking about? Those who are out in Tahrir Square, or those who are at Rabaa al-Adawya plaza [in Nasr City]? Unlike during the revolution against [former Egyptian president] Hosni Mubarak, the situation in Egypt today is not one where one large group of protesters is against the powers that be – right now, two groups of similar sizes are opposed to each other, and both are in the streets to make sure their voices are heard. So how can the army judge which “popular demand” is most legitimate?
Some might try to invoke the anti-Morsi petition, which has a greater number of signatories than the number of votes that got him into office. But, assuming that these numbers are correct, what about the counter-petition started by the Muslim Brotherhood, who say they’ve got just as many signatories supporting the president?
Protest in Rabaa al-Adawya plaza on July 1.
"What guarantee will we have against total anarchy if we don’t respect the basic rules of democracy?"
What the opposition and the army seem to be forgetting is that Morsi is an elected president, and that he is legally in power. Let’s imagine we have new elections tomorrow, and that I find myself disappointed with the next president’s actions, regardless of his political affiliations. Does that give me the right to demand he step down after one year? What guarantee will we have against total anarchy if we don’t respect the basic rules of democracy?
Despite all this pressure on the government, I remain optimistic. If you take a close look at the way the army phrased its ultimatum, you’ll see it is rather ambiguous. The SCAF statement isn’t directed solely at the government; it is addressed to “all political forces” and talks about the people’s wishes without explicitly stating whether this means the oppositions’ demands. So perhaps the army will organise a referendum to truly seek to understand the will of the people. If this happens, I am certain Morsi will win.