Egypt Reaching the Boil?

Hello once again,

So as you know I just got back from my holiday yesterday and I have been working furiously to get myself back into the loop, with access to a television for the first time in days too. One situation that has been ongoing is the situation in Egypt, regarding the pro-Morsi supporters’ continued protests in Cairo. In case you missed it, on July the 5th, President Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president was ousted by the military after mass demonstrations against his rule, namely his constitutional reforms.

Mr. Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party, present in many other middle eastern states, which advocates Islamic laws and the use of the Muslim religion as a basis for the running of the state. His constitutional reforms that he proposed upon gaining his position threw a new spark into an already unstable cauldron of troubles. The constitution that he proposed gave more power to religious bodies and made Islamic law a fundamental part of the country’s legal framework.

The country split in two over the matter, the large number of muslims in Egypt supported the measures, however an equally sized camp of secularists believed that it was a step backwards and would infringe upon basic rights of non-muslim people in Egypt. Much of the international community seemed to support the idea of maintaining a secular Egypt, even if they kept their mouths firmly shut about the matter.

However, mass demonstrations against the new measures shook Egypt, only weeks after its historical revolution against the dictatorship government. Morsi’s supporters came out in response and once again clashes in the streets between pro-government and anti-government groups raged. In response to the mass unrest and the president’s seeming inability to control it, the Army once again took power, deposing and arresting Morsi, along with several senior officials within the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, as you can imagine that didn’t really help things much out on the street. Pro-Morsi groups have been staging a sit in at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. In response the interim government called on its supporters to give a mandate by themselves taking to the streets, with thousands once more pouring into Tahrir square. Clashes between the two groups, as well as between the army and the pro-Morsi group have left large numbers of people killed.

The interim government has called for an end to the protests and have pledged to give the army the power to arrest civilians. Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim also warned that protesters’ camps would be dispersed “soon”.

For me, it’s quite hard to see where to go with this; on the one hand we have a president who was going to throw any ideas of a free, equal and secular society out of the window; on the other hand he was democratically elected and removed by the armed forces. The armed forces now seem to be trying to quell Islamic fundamentalism within Egypt’s borders, but have also opened fire on what is, largely, a peaceful demonstration. The demonstrators have assembled peacefully, but call for change that would be of detriment to living conditions of much of Egypt’s population.

In these cases I would generally say, go with the people, but they seem to be split half and half just now, and Morsi was, after all, elected democratically. However, I cannot bring myself to support Morsi for two reasons, firstly, he seems content to ignore the wants of roughly half of his people, and secondly he seems intent on putting religion into government. For that second reason mostly, I am sort of with the army, but I cannot condone the shooting of civilians. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, remarked that the new government needed to “respect the right to peaceful assembly…” Get out your cameras, I am quoting and agreeing with a US politician. (It also brings up the interesting point about religion and secularism which I think I may also ramble on about at some point in time too.)

If the Interim Government can lay in place the foundations for a democratic and secular government of Egypt, I will applaud them, but given the circumstances, I can’t see that happening any time soon. For now, I suppose all we can do is watch and see what the Egyptian people choose to do, for me, it’s almost too early to formulate an extensive opinion of the situation or of whom, if anyone, to support. All I really hope for is an end to the violence and for a speedy and peaceful resolution, but that may be wishful thinking, nothing ever seems to go so smoothly. For now then, I wait.

As usual, if you have any comments or perhaps something you want to add to what I’ve said or even disagree, please do continue the debate in the comments section. Thanks for reading.

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