Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Comments on a CNN piece about Dr. Morsi

I was somewhat disturbed reading Frida Ghitis's piece in the CNN - Can We Trust Egypt's New President?  It is a flawed piece, which miserably fails to inform readers with background knowledge necessary to answer the polemical question. She alleges that the Brotherhood and Dr. Morsi had broken certain promises they had made after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. According to Frida, these include not trying to control Egyptian politics, promising to contest only a minority of seats in the legislature, and that it will not have a presidential candidate.

This is twisting of facts. What the Brotherhood actually said soon after the fall of Mubarak was that it would be willing to co-operate with secular parties. A free election was held in September in which people overwhelmingly preferred Brotherhood over all other parties.  Is that the fault of the Brotherhood that people chose its candidates and not the secularists, who had more in common with the fallen regime? With thousands of its cadre killed, imprisoned and tortured, others hunted down like dogs by the security forces, and being barred from playing an active role in Egyptian politics for nearly 70 years, the Brotherhood had no way to guess how popular they were until this free election. The parliamentary election proved that they are the most trusted of the bunch that competed in the election.

From the very beginning, SCAF and its beneficiaries wanted to ensure that while Mubarak was gone -- something that they earnestly tried to resist until when their own soldiers refused to shoot down fellow Egyptians that have joined the protest marches in the Tahrir Square -- their perks are neither denied by a new parliament nor a new president. They would have loved to see Brotherhood candidates denied the chance to participate in the elections.  And this they tried by all means possible. But the people of Egypt have waked up and won’t stand for such schemes any more. They had sacrificed 900 of their best souls and were willing to sacrifice even more. Thus, the candidates of Brotherhood ran on popular demand. They had no choice.

Would Frida like to see that Brotherhood had not run in the parliamentary election? As the results showed, vast majority of the people chose them over others. If they had not run, the ghosts from the Mubarak era would have captured the lower house and reversed the gains of the revolution. Even with those gains in the Parliament, as we saw, the SCAF succeeded in dissolving it. Such might be delighting news for anti-revolutionary forces still dormant inside Egypt, but to the vast majority it is not acceptable. Thus, they are again back to the Tahrir Square sitting-in demanding the restoration of the Parliament.

As a democratic party, Brotherhood’s political wing, Freedom and Justice Party, has its constituencies to listen to, and honor the pledges it made. Otherwise, the same group that had sent them to the legislature would dump them next time. That is what democracy is all about. Even with such massive supports it enjoyed, the Brotherhood did not do anything to further polarize the country. On many issues of national interest, it cooperated with progressive secularists, whose values were in sync with those of the common masses both inside and outside the parliament. So, Frida’s remarks are more like sour grapes of a loser who had supported the fallen regime.

As I mentioned elsewhere although the revolutionaries had succeeded in toppling Mubarak, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), comprising of 19 Mubaraks, has been running the country for the past 16 months, and is responsible for many of the obstacles it put against the aspirations of the freedom loving people, the protesters in the Tahrir Square that brought down Mubarak. The fight for democracy is still not over. The revolutionaries ought to safeguard what they achieved thus far, and must be on the look out for conspirators and behind-the-scene players who want to reverse the tide of the revolution.

As to the allegation on presidency, the Brotherhood wanted to support the candidacy of a neutral personality like Dr. ElBaradei as president. However, the latter withdrew his name after sensing that with SCAF pulling the strings from behind, as an individual without a strong political party to back him, he could do very little to curb the influence of SCAF and run the country effectively. So what option did Brotherhood have other than field its own candidate? If Dr Morsi didn’t run, General Shafiq would have become the president-elect, much to the delight of the old-guards. Was that outcome desirable for Egyptians who wanted a change from the Mubarak-era?

Mind that Dr. Morsi was not even the first choice of Brotherhood. Its preferred candidate was not allowed to run on a technical ground. Thus Dr. Morsi ran when all other options dried out. 

To, thus, suggest that Brotherhood had broken promises or has a history of breaking pledges is to be oblivious of the political undercurrents inside Egypt. Frida Ghitis sounded more like a Mubarak-sympathizer than an objective journalist. It is simply deplorable.

The coming days would be tough days for Egypt's democracy as it finds out whether it can restore the parliament and curb the influence of the SCAF. 

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