Egypt is doomed

June 24, 2012 • 3:46 pm

But I hope I’m wrong. Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has been elected President of Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s explicit aim is Islamic rule of both family and state.

The evening news just showed crowds in Tahrir Square waving the Qur’an and shouting, “This is our constitution now!”  Other Egyptians, sensing what was about to happen to their land, wept.

Decades of secular culture are likely to vanish, and a vibrant country plunged into Islamic fascism.  This was what the revolution was about?

Visiting Egypt has always been on my bucket list, but it seems increasingly unlikely.

62 thoughts on “Egypt is doomed

  1. There is no conceivable successful revolution possible in the Muslim world, because the people will just willingly snap the chains back on their wrists by electing a theocratic government. They’re enslaved by their own philosophy.

      1. Um. The US kept out of that whole thing.

        What would you have had the US do?

        Invade Egypt to set up a secular government? You see how well that’s going in other places.

        Seriously, you could also blame Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, and all of the heads of state of every other government in the world.

        Doesn’t make it true.

  2. The voting system was rigged so that newer more democratic parties couldn’t get enough weight for their vote – a system designed to give the larger more organised (read Islamic) groups an advantage. Its a travesty!

  3. Jerry, calm down. The office of president in Egypt has very little real authority, and Moursi does not have a mandate from the people, so you can forget about Egypt becoming Iran-lite. The military, who are incredibly powerful, are violently anti-Muslim Brotherhood and extremely attached to secularism, so I do not expect Islamic law to be instituted there. What happened was simple: due to the way the elections work there, the two top candidates go to a run-off if no one wins an outright majority, and it happened to be Moursi against Ahmed Shafik, a former Mubarak cabinet member who promised a return to authoritarianism. Think of Moursi’s win as a blow struck against the old order rather than an endorsement of Islamism. I also think Egypt has way bigger problems right now than this mostly inconsequential election that most Egyptians seem to be fairly disgusted with.

    1. All this is true, but I see turmoil and dead bodies ahead for Egypt, which is very sad. The only stable government will be the military and it just depends on how the different groups accept this.

      1. All this is true, but I see turmoil and dead bodies ahead for Egypt,

        And this makes it different from every other “Middle East” country, how?
        Same question with respect to almost every other African country.

  4. Another case of “careful what you wish for”.
    Tocqueville’s Law applies relentlessly.
    Remember the fall and disgrace of the Shah of Iran? Its aftermath?

    1. Remember also why in part there was a willingness to backlash.

      Hint: US and other “western power” support for both the shah and Mubarak, against the people.

      1. Given the radical loss of freedom for women in Iran, I suspect that a hell of a lot of them long for the good old days of the Shah.

  5. And further to JZ’s comment (4), my understanding of the process was that the socialists/secularists in the middle could not agree on a candidate, making the field in the first round so large that the two winners (i.e. those who went to the run-off now won by Moursi) were the two at the extremes – Muslim Brotherhood at one end and Mubarak’s former Prime Minister at the other.

  6. Perhaps this is all for the best, that the Muslim Brotherhood is given the chance to rule and prove their ability to govern. Let them take the helm of stewardship and solve the problems facing the country.

    1. Like getting those uppity women back in line? I saw some interviews with women who would prefer the military over the Muslim Brotherhood…and for good reason.

      1. Granted that only a few muslim-majority countries have successfully experimented with democracy and given their people freedom and prosperity, I think we need to give the Brotherhood the benefit of the doubt. This is Egypt’s freest elections in a generation. I hope they will go the way of Turkey or Malaysia.

  7. I am taking liberty of veering subject a bit off track. Speaking as just an old, self-educated Texas gal, is America not on the road to Christian Fascism?

    Is it “just me” having these mere figments we are slowly drifting into the waters of Christian Shira Law?

    Help me here. I am old and very frightened

    1. I can understand your fears, I think there are good reasons for them. I don’t know if I can offer any real comfort. My own assessment, or perhaps it is just wishful thinking, is that if we can survive the next 10 to 15 years without devolving into a ChristoFascist nightmare, then we may see a relatively quick weakening of religious political power in our country.

      1. Thank you for taking time to respond. This subject is discussed in within the confines of family, only. 99% of people in my Contacts are hypocrites, hiding behind Cheezesus’ skirts. They are the meanest most hateful people. I remain appalled at how many they are.

        Unfortunately, I am only 71. As strange as that may sound to younger people, these days, it’s really not considered quite too old.

        So, will probably still be here to see the completion of religious right agenda.

      2. I have been thinking the same way. The Christian Right has achieved much of what it set out to get in the 1980s; I feel that within another decade they’ll either consolidate their power, or people will wake up and turn against religion in general.

        But then I look at how many religious nutjobs around the world are either in power or on the ascent, and I get depressed.

        I hope Egypt doesn’t become another Syria.

        1. Thank you for your response. Relieved to find others of like mind and, concern. I spent a whole lot of time, effort & energy in the early 70’s fighting for women’s equality.

          To this day, I will willingly get in anyone’s face about this ongoing erosion of what so many of us fought for and, continue to this day.

          The slow destruction of women’s rights is merely the “crust” as they slowly nibble away toward devouring the entire slice.

          I continue with my hope “normal” people will finally get fed up. However, until America’s “White Knight” (see Russia and their ongoing cycle of White Knight/Black Knight throughout their history), if there is such a thing or, will ever be again, appears, I fear the worst.

          I, too, hope Egypt does not become another Syria.



      3. The US is the most fundamentalist nation on the planet, and given our track record, we are in no in a position to judge the Muslims. The Egyptians have spoken democratically; the election was no more “rigged” than are US elections where only powerfully-funded theists can get elected and where some fifty percent of the population is right-wing theocrat.

        1. I completely agree with your comments. When I get those ridiculous religious-bent e-mails (Cheezesus will smite you if you don’t forward this to 10 people)I want to loose my lunch because, right long with this “I am soooooooo Christian”, comes nasty, filthy political e-mails. I sit at my computer filled with wonder and amazement – “Is this the same person?”

          Oh yeah, many of these people have had their faces bitten off due to infesting my IN box. Does it stop them? Uh, no. I consider all them somehow afflicted. I went to school, shamed to say, with many of them.

          Why do I keep them in my Contacts? Because someone has to fight back on the rampant ignorgance. Do I stand a chance? No, but will never stop trying for the sake of all the little kids in America.

          Wow! My chatter box turned over!



  8. There are no sisters in the Muslim Brotherhood. I am so sorry for Egypt’s women’s loss in this revolution…

  9. Proud of the Egyptians for demanding a fair count. Hoping Islamists will hold power only until the political center becomes organized.

  10. An Islamist government in Egypt would not necessarily mean the rise of Islamic fascism. Many political entities claim religious allegiance and affiliation merely to garner votes (think Germany and Christian Democratic Union or either major political party in the US, for instance). Moreover, the alternative to Morsi would have been electing a president who is associated with the previous regime (rendering the revolution pointless).

    And the beautiful thing about democracy is that it truly reflects the will of the people – the brotherhood in the legislative election won ~75% but in the presidential, they only received ~51% of the vote. Don’t count secularism in Egypt out yet!

    As for the comment about women rights with the Islamic brotherhood, there are at least 10 women in parliament under the same banner (it is not much, but democratic change takes time) – it is better than 0 women under the previous Mubarak regime.

    Please don’t think I am arguing for the Islamist government – I am not!. But like I said, don’t count out secularism in Egypt just yet!

  11. The local political analysts takes it calmly, comparing it with our little christ-democratic party being elected. The old structure is gone, and both the military and the major electorate of the Muslim Brotherhood are old and will disappear over time.

    The Muslim Brotherhood contains some radical people and even feminists I think was claimed. But it is expected women will see small incursions of freedom, or at best little to no improvement.

    The conclusion is that progress will be dampened in the short term, there is still risk for problems so that isn’t particularly good, but the society should improve over time. Also, Egypt has already lost its influence over much of the neighboring nations. (To the detriment of old ally US.) The relations with Israel will be deep frozen. But the neighborhood doesn’t particularly care because of their own problems after the Arabic Spring.

  12. It is too early to declare the prospects for democracy in Egypt hopeless or to blame that possible outcome on the Islamic Brotherhood. The Egyptian military still must organize another election for parliament, and if they don’t then they arguably are more to blame for the lack of democracy than the Islamic Brotherhood. It is the military, together with the Mubarak appointed officials and judges of the supreme constitutional court, that disqualified candidates for president, that disbanded the parliament, that exempted the military and defense ministers from civilian oversight, that weakened the role of the elected president, and that took over responsibility for drafting the constitution from the elected parliament.

    Ultimately, what Egypt needs is a government that will work to try to make Egypt more prosperous. Mubarak paid too much attention to his own self-interest and not enough to the national self-interest and the country mostly stagnated. Morsi may be better for Egypt, but we will never know if the military and Mubarak era officials block him from governing freely from the start. I still think it is too early to know if democracy will be permitted to proceed and if an Islamic Brotherhood government, given the chance, will be good for Egypt. It’s still a question mark, and anyone who says they know the answers appears to me to be claiming to know too much too soon.

  13. Not all sunshine, but I tend to agree to comment #4 and #11 above, Jerry is way too pessimistic.

    The two-level balloting, the fractious small groups, the two strong extreme factions, all of these contribute more to the final decision than Allah’s will ..

    And between the two last contestant, Morsi is a slightly better choice (difficult to compare the two since they have very different pros and cons) for the common people.

    Obama seems OK with this (W / dubya will probably weep ..)

    1. Obama backed Mubarak as long as he could, and then tried to back Suleiman to replace him. I don’t really care what Obama’s opinion about anything is, particularly regarding foreign policy.

      1. Yes, I think Obama himself does not think much on foreign policy that does not directly connected to his military budget, such as Egypt.

        The most important issue here is the benefits of common people of Egypt.

  14. The secular ruling party that was in place was led by an authoritarian dictator. I see no reason in this case to argue that the Muslim Brotherhood is worse than Hosni Mubarak.

    1. Surely it’s a success for democracy. 52% of the electorate voted for the person who won, and now get the right to do what they want to their constitution and then the treasonable 48% of their population.

      1. Actually, it is a disaster for democracy. The installation of an ‘overseeing’ board of Muslim clerics is anything but democratic. It is nothing short of a theocracy with lip-service being paid to a democracy that can be invalidated by an unelected religious panel at will.

        And I don’t think you quite grasp the nature of the results. Yes, Morsi got 51.7% of the TURN-OUT, but that was only 51.8%, meaning that the governments mandate is backed by under 26% of the population.

        In light of these facts, how can it be said to be a victory for anyone or anything but neo-Islamist fascism? No, it is a spit in the eye to democracy. Mark my words; I’ll be following their every move at my blog. You should follow me.

  15. At least the Egyptians have learned that they can change their government with collective action. Most European nations had to go through several revolutions, invasions and/or civil wars before they finally got it right; it’s not realistic to expect the Arab states will be any quicker.

    1. Good point!

      This Egyptian case study is still open. The geopolitical situation is very different now, I do not think that Saudi, or Iran cases will be repeated in Egypt now.

      Do they have to fall into theocratic states? If they have to, they will. If they don’t, they won’t. They – the Egyptian people – will have to live with the consequences, and have to make their own (collective) decision.

      The western societies have passed this point decades ago, now let the developing countries make their choice, however disastrous it will be.

  16. It may be to early to tell, at least in the short run, but with Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan avowed Islamic states, the trend leans towards theocratic rule where democratic governance is not on the table. I share Jerry’s unease.

  17. I’ve been travelling there regularly on business for some years. This sort of election outcome was very predictable.

    I don’t have a good feeling about it, but then the situation is very complex. However, I expect that women’s rights are about to take a big step backwards.

    Their economy is going to suffer, too – which will feed more extremism.

  18. Is secular government in the Muslim world possible without the intervention of the army — as in Turkey? I don’t think so. But to hail the election of Morsi as a victory for democracy — as the Globe and Mail did this morning — is nothing short of cracked. Morsi is a Salafist, and the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood. He will not be able to resist the demands of his Kameraden in the Brotherhood to impose Sharia law in Egypt, the result of which is, effectively, fascism. I have never been particularly hopeful that the outcome of the Arab Spring would be genuine freedom. Always in the background of religious movements is the corrupt idea that truth will set you free (one of the more stupid sayings attributed to Jesus), and that they know what the truth is, so you may have to be forced to be free in this sense.

    1. Morsi may not be able to resist demands to impose Sharia, but it’s not clear that he will actually be able to much to impose it either. The military will retain a role, and will probably look to Turkey for guidance on how you can move towards democracy while retaining secularism. What will be interesting now will be the next Parliamentary elections: will Egyptians vote for non-MB candidates to form a civil Opposition to the President.

      But, more broadly, this result is in line most elections immediately after a country turns from authoritarianism/military rule to democracy. Under the previous regime, there are normally only a handful of groups that people can associate themselves with, usually the strongest are those based around their ethnic identity or their religion. So when an authoritarian ruler is overthrown, those groups have a head-start in organising for the first “democratic” elections. And so it was in Egypt. The question now is whether the MB are able to knock out the protections for democracy, so entrenching their regime and insulating themselves from future votes, or whether they have to come up with policies that actually inspire popular support – which won’t be the implementation of a Saudi-style sharia code.

    2. Well, this is difficult really. Of course I would rather like to see somebody else win, and I obviously think that it would be horrible to have a mob-rule-democracy in which e.g. the Copts would be discriminated against, but well… the point of a democracy is kind of that you cannot prescribe the citizenry who to vote for.

      The Egyptians seem to want to try their luck with the fundamentalists. I don’t really know what to think about this except to hope that if they recognize their mistake in a few years they will still have the option of voting for another party, and to hope that they do not blow up the sphinx, as some of their fundies demanded years ago already.

  19. Iam 77 now but I fear for my grandchildren and their grandchildren as’Muslim’ becomes respectable and a way of life all around the World not only in Eygpt holds back progress ,in particular the role of women.

    1. elainetherave: I, too, share your same fears. I am 71 and, am appalled at the world I am leaving my grand nieces/nephews.

      While I missed out on a lot of grand parenting blessings, it is with much relief that my son and his wife make the choice to not have children.

      I have great fear of Muslim Shira law, I hold as much fear of the religious right here in our own country. Surely, everyone knows it is their goal to eventually foist Christian Shira law on America.

      I fear we are not too far from sinking back in time. Soon, they will be seeking witches to burn at the stake.

      1. Great minds think alike. So glad there are some out there with our views and hope World leaders realise that the world is on the brink of something I would rather not have to think about.

  20. Heard an interview on NPR this morning that Morsi’s government will be seeking to pattern itself after Turkey. And that Morsi has already or intends to quit his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood.

    If true then there is hope.

  21. Egypt was a dictatorship before the revolution, so while your fears are founded, it’s not like the voters had any alternative. The only other candidate to qualify for the runoff was one of Mubarak’s cronies.

  22. Egypt might be a rare case of Malthusian overpopulation in action.

    1. 40% of the population lives on less than $2.00 a day.

    2. They have a large population with significant growth still, 80 million people.

    3. Almost all their water, the Nile, no longer reaches the sea. It’s all used, mostly for agriculture.

    3. The Nile delta where most peole live is sinking while sea levels are rising. Salt water is moving inland. What could go wrong here?

    When food prices rose a few years ago, there were food riots in Egypt. Basic food is subsidized so the poor don’t starve but many seem to be right on the edge.

    I guess we will see but it could be a perfect storm here.

  23. Worst case scenario: Egypt becomes another aggressive theocracy, like Iran

    Best case scenario: Egypt (and the rest of the Arab world) continue to move toward democracy and regulated free enterprise

    Intermediate scenario: Muslim leaders attempt to impose theocracy, the people revolt and/or vote against it, eventually resulting in a delayed best-case scenario

    Because there are historic precedents for all of these scenarios (and many others not listed), I don’t think we should count Egypt out just yet. The key (as I’ve asserted here before) is quality of life. If Egypt’s economy collapses, chances are good for theocracy/dictatorship. If Egypt’s economy improves, good things are more likely to follow, as they typically have wherever economies flourish.

  24. The Egyptian revolution was never completed. The military (with US backing) merely threw over Mubarak. The Egyptian junta, SCAF, has dimissed the lower house of Parliament (alon with its MB majority,) and has terminated civilian control of the constitution writing process. After these events, the population to a large extent was disengaged from the sham of the elections. That’s why the turnout was so low, as compared to the enormous participation in previous elections the people believed would matter.

    The MB, as the most established opposition to the Mubarak dictatorship, still has the best organization and, unsurprisingly, won the elections. The supporters of the Egyptian dictatorship hail these elections as democracy, believing that they will refurbish the political credentials of the new dictatorship.

    The leftist and secular elements were most strongly represented by the workers whose strikes played such a vital role in terminating the Mubarak phase of the dictatorship. The attack on them has been relentless, but unremarked by the majority of the Western press. Strikes for example have been banned for some months now. This repression has done more to turn the course of events toward reaction, yet it has happend with the full support of the US government, for one.

    In light of all this, is it really fair to bash the Eqyptian people en masse?

  25. Just because an MB candidate was elected to the presidency hardly means that the country is going to become an Islamic Republic or a Theocratic State. Indeed, this is a general advance, they had an open election, they had relatively peaceful debate, and a peaceful transfer of power. The only threat is that the ‘secularists’ will quash the election and institute another military dictatorship. This is the same sort of thing that’s happened in Turkey a few times. Democracy and an open society are well worth the occasional nutjobs, who are regardless hemmed in by the constitution. In Egypt, it’s the military that is trying to rewrite the constitution, not the MB.

  26. Any way to stop men impossing their beliefs on others must be good. Evil is evil whichever way you look at it.

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