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Editorial: Revolt against Morsi shows fa...

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Editorial: Revolt against Morsi shows failure of “Arab Spring” in Egypt

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Editorial: Revolt against Morsi shows failure of “Arab Spring” in Egypt

Country/Region: Egypt, Middle East and North Africa

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By Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid

The tumultuous events in Egypt this week that resulted yesterday (3 July) in the ousting of Islamist President Mohammad Morsi have exposed the failure of the “Arab Spring” to bring democracy and freedom to the country.

Mohammad Morsi has been ousted by the Egyptian army
Mohammad Morsi has been ousted by the Egyptian army
Forcalgeria / CC BY-SA 3.0

Amid mounting opposition to Morsi’s dictatorial rule, millions of protestors, including youth, secularists and Christians, took to the streets on Sunday (30 June) to mark his first anniversary in office.

The opposition Tamarod (“Rebel”) movement said that it had gathered more than 22 million signatures, around nine million more people than voted for Morsi, calling for him to go.

Protests continued the following day, with activists storming the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails.

The military then threw its considerable weight behind the protestors, telling the country’s leaders on Monday (1 July) that they had 48 hours to “meet the demands of the people” or else it would step in to restore order. Yesterday, they followed that warning through decisively, putting Morsi under house arrest, suspending the Islamist-backed constitution and pledging to hold new elections.   

Morsi and his supporters have been adamant that, because he was elected in a fair, democratic vote, the people have no right to remove him by protest. But what he and the Muslim Brotherhood have failed to realise is that democracy is about much more than merely holding elections. It is about inclusion, equality and ruling by consent. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote:

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost. (Politics)

But Morsi and the Brotherhood have ridden rough-shod over the fundamental principles of democracy, using people’s votes, cast in good faith, to seize control of key institutions that should be independent and impose their own agenda on Egyptian society.

Like all dictators, Morsi fell into the trap of believing that the way to retain power is to tighten one’s grip on it, when actually it can be secured in the long-term only by giving it away. For this builds trust, consensus and mutual support.

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