On the brink

A protester (R) runs from tear gas released by riot police during clashes at Tahrir square in Cairo November 23, 2012. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

The events in Egypt Friday are not simply the result of the new decisions taken by Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi: These were the straws that broke the camel’s back.

Its been more than four months since Mursi officially took power, yet the country has seen no evidence of the economic or social progress that its people have long been asking for.

What it has seen is the Muslim Brotherhood come out in support of the government, giving the impression that they control the towns and streets in Egypt. The more those who disagree with them have kept quiet, the more brazen the Brotherhood have become.

The behavior of the Brotherhood and the regime has finally provoked the other side to the point where they feel their only recourse was the action Egypt saw Friday. Now the liberals and secularists in civil society have resorted to the same medicine as their ideological opponents, with potentially explosive results.

While Egyptians have much to be discontent with, Mursi’s actions understandably sparked outrage.

He has put himself above legal challenge, undermining the rule of law itself. In a situation where leaders are not accountable, citizens abandon their trust in the country’s institutions, taking the law into their own hands.

Egypt’s leader, as the country’s media and commentators have been quick to point out, has positioned himself as – in essence – a new dictator. People do not believe any of the promises he makes, because any promises he and the Brotherhood have made have been broken. Their credibility is shot.

The reasons for discontent with the regime of Hosni Mubarak were not only about political freedom, but also poverty, unemployment and security. Nearly two years later nothing has changed.

Unemployment is on the rise, no dents have been made in the poverty rates and a lack of security prevails. Archaic laws are implemented via fatwa, putting restrictions on the liberal society in general, and women in particular, in a way that no one has previously attempted to do in Egypt.

Opposition and unrest has been faced down with recourse to the supposed authority of God to justify their actions, although the world is well aware of the history of extremists and the Brotherhood to twist the word of God.

Surveying the past month, it is clear that this regime is trying to control all the power centers by installing supporters in key positions, by twisting laws and trying to enact a constitution that is tailor-made to their interests.

The only thing this regime has brought in abundance is poverty and laws that set back the progress of women and – by extension – society.

Friday’s demonstration brings Egypt just a short distance from civil war. All of the ingredients are there, and if the regime is not careful with its every step, it may risk taking one that will be the catalyst to throw the country into violence and uncertainty.





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