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Democracy is more than an election

Extremists and extremism, whether they be religious or political, are dangerous! This is Egypt's issue, not whether they identify with a cross, a crescent, a star of david, or some other religious or political symbol.

Douglas May
19 August 2013

Egypt has never really experienced democracy or freedom as currently understood in the west. In Egypt, these terms are understood as something other than monarchies and dictatorships without understanding that “democracy” does not end with elections and that “freedom” comes with duties and responsibilities. It is also not understood in Egypt that those with majorities, power and wealth have a duty to protect and defend the rights of minorities, the powerless and the poor.  

Christians (about 10% of the population) have been living as a “tolerated presence” in Egypt, especially since the days of Anwar El-Sadat. The Muslim Brotherhood (about 30%) have been a repressed political minority since the days of Nasser. While the 25 January 2011 Revolution gave Christians hope, it also gave the Muslim Brotherhood the ambition to power. However, democracy and freedom were words that meant little in practice.

This is where religious extremism became obsessed with itself and decided to abuse a democratic election and be oblivious to the population it was to serve and protect except its own constituency. The Muslim Brotherhood became God’s army and minorities felt the “green light” had been lit for religious bigots to discriminate and oppress in ways that made previous discriminatory behavior over past decades seem minor. 

For weeks before 30 June, the Tamarod(Rebel) Movement sought millions of signatures calling for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to go, and more Muslims than Christians were seeking and signing this petition. Between 30 June and 3 July, Tahrir Square was packed with both Muslims and Christians demanding a truly democratic and secular government to rule them.  Morsi and the MB had not only failed them in terms of the economy, which needed much more than one year to rebuild, they had failed a vast majority of Egyptians to bring about true democracy (not an ideological end in itself) that would protect and guarantee the rights of all Egyptians and not just a select group who wanted to turn Egypt into a backward Islamic state.

Most mainstream media outlets have not tried to explain the need for this "military coup" (or whatever people wish to call it) nor the need to force Morsi supporters out of the places where they were demonstrating. The focus has been on the "poor Muslim Brotherhood" and the deposing of Morsi as Egypt's first "democratically elected president" and the reasons why they were overthrown have not been stressed enough. Democracy is more than an election and Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were anything but democratic once they got into power. If such demonstrations happened in any major city in Europe, the US or elsewhere for weeks, for just how long do you think these governments would have allowed them to continue?  There were several times when the demonstrators were notified to leave or be removed by force. Instead, they chose to remain with women and children to "stand for democracy and their legitimately elected president". 

There has also been very little reporting on the vengeance taken out on Christians, their churches, schools, clinics, rectories, convents, etc. (*Link to updated list below).  It seems that many have been trapped by their fear of being labeled as "Islamophobic" (just as there is a fear of being called anti-Semitic) and being labeled as being "undemocratic" and soft on the military coup mandated by millions of Egyptians. 

Many of us here, who sense that US/EU Middle Eastern policies are influenced by Israeli political ambitions, are tired of western media reporting and western government hypocrisy. While "two wrongs do not make a right", have the US/EU conveniently forgotten their own histories of wars, civil wars, colonialism, oppression of religious minorities, slavery, racism, etc…?  Extremists and extremism, whether they be religious or political, are dangerous! This is the issue, not whether they identify with a cross, a crescent, a star of david, or some other religious or political symbol. 

The Muslim Brotherhood chose the political name "Freedom and Justice Party". During their year, they show themselves as promoting neither.

*For an up-to-date list of the churches and Christian establishments that were attacked, click here

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