Michael Mansfield and Tayab Ali write: Just over a year ago, Egypt threw off the shackles of its military dictatorship and took on the mantle of a civil democracy, becoming for a short period, the torchbearer of liberty and equality throughout the Arab world. On 24 June 2012, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party won the country’s first contested election. It was the first time that an Egyptian president had been freely elected from outside of the military establishment.
By 3 July 2013, President Morsi had been ousted in a coup d’etat. The uprising against the previous Mubarak regime resulted in the free and fair election of President Morsi – a new dawn of democracy and human rights for Egypt. The current spate of protests have seen the rapid destruction of that new promise and an excuse for the military to regain control.
The immediate aftermath of the July coup reminds us what Egypt is without its democracy and that cannot have been what the many who were angry at President Morsi’s government had in mind when they chose to (and were allowed to) vocalise their discontent in street protests.
Everyone in Egypt should now be concerned about the legality and consequences of the military overturning its first democratically elected government. Whatever the stated justification, disenchantment with a democratically elected leader cannot legitimise the use of force and should never be used to remove a democratically elected government.
We can see where Egypt has descended to in the aftermath of the coup. The new military-installed regime does not appear to be interested in safeguarding Egypt’s democracy. The hallmarks of a democratic state have vanished almost immediately. Morsi has been detained in a secret location along with much of his administration. Suddenly dubious and historic criminal charges have surfaced and been levelled against them. So far these detainees have not had access to their families or legal teams. How they are being treated is anyone’s guess. [Continue reading…]