Military has done it again

2013-07-09 00:00

I REMEMBER watching the overthrow of the dictator Hosni Mubarak on international news channels with irrepressible excitement and hope.

The waving of the Egyptian flags and timeless pictures depicting the celebrations in Tahrir Square left me with a feeling of anticipation for a great future ahead for Egypt as a country.

Following the country’s first democratic election, and the processes associated with it, only served to increase my intense feelings of optimism and I celebrated the triumph of freedom over tyranny. However, the latest developments in Egypt have left me somewhat dejected and rather disappointed in the Egyptian people.

For those opposed to Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the coup d’état is seen as supporting a popular uprising.

For Morsi’s supporters, who respected democratic governance and the rule of law, the overthrow of Morsi must be described as nothing but a military coup.

The MB was not afforded a fair chance to rule the country that it was democratically elected to lead. Hardly a quarter of the way through his term, Morsi, who was held to unfair standards and unrealistic expectations from the outset of his election, has been ousted from his position of leadership.

The Egyptian people are once again under the rule of the military — an ironic situation as the military played a pivotal role under the Mubarak regime.

It is interesting to note that the United States has provided the Egyptian military with significant financial aid since the seventies, with President Barack Obama pledging $1,3 billion to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces this year. So why have Morsi and the MB been vilified, when the events of the past year would allude to the fact that the MB has often been the victim, rather than the instigator, of violence?

Thirty MB offices have been set ablaze or destroyed, and some members of the MB have been killed or burnt alive, with many others subjected to systemic violence.

The 2011 uprising against the Mubarak regime was, with some isolated incidents, overwhelmingly non-violent, and yet in a short period of time, some people in Egypt have become convinced that aggression against an elected president and ruling political group is legitimate.

The Egyptian people have been waiting for over 30 years for democracy, so why was the elected party given less than a year to try to lead Egypt out of the abyss of an economy in a mess and numerous environmental, health, transportation, education, and energy crises?

The answer is simple. The call for a “new” revolution was made just two months after Morsi had been elected (when his nationwide popularity rating was at 70%) and the culmination of efforts by the numerous counter-revolutionary groups, 2012 presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabahi and Amr Moussa and the Western-backed military, is the coup we have witnessed.

Through a well-crafted and intricate media propaganda campaign against the MB, the Egyptian people have been fooled into believing, via the media and Egyptian journalists who see themselves more as political activists than objective commentators, that the MB has no national interest at heart and its members are driven by their personal agendas. While Morsi has made some leadership mistakes, he and the party have been unfairly maligned. The anti-Morsi smear campaign has involved painting Morsi as a leader unconcerned with the welfare of the general Egyptian.

Mohamed Elmasry, who has studied this discourse for 11 years, has described the propaganda machine against Morsi and the MB as unlike anything he has seen yet. The opposition was ready to start plotting against the MB almost as soon as the party came into power.

With the current state of affairs, Egypt is in a big mess and it looks as if the counter-revolutionaries have been successful in their plan of destabilisation. For now.

• Aayesha J. Soni is the vice-chairperson of the Media Review Network.

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