The Pakistanisation of Egypt

This was posted today by the Carnegie Endowment for Democracy

Denis MacShaneFormer UK minister for Europe

Egypt’s coup does not have to lead to civil war, but what happens now depends on the Muslim Brotherhood.

When in 1974 the Portuguese army overthrew a disliked authoritarian government, the world hailed the “coup” as a bold move to establish democracy in Portugal. Now in Egypt, it is clear that the Muslim Brotherhood was paying lip service to democracy to win power, only to then kill it off by refusing all the compromises essential to make democratic government work.

In 1997, Islamist militants seized 60 tourists near Luxor, mainly Swiss who were enjoying ancient Egyptian culture, and butchered them in the name of Islamist ideology. Some were beheaded. The man believed to be responsible for the atrocity was appointed in 2013 by then president Mohamed Morsi as the governor of Luxor. Such cynical promotion of evil shocked all decent Egyptians—as did the Muslim Brotherhood’s arrests, torture, and suppression of media freedom.

Whether Egypt now descends into civil war depends on the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist party can turn away from nondemocracy and violence, or else splinter into various Salafist jihadist groups. The army must organize new elections soon and accept that civil society has a right to criticize. Egypt is slowly being Pakistanized as military and mullahs jostle for power over a corrupt economy. This need not happen, but modern societies cannot live under religious autocracy. Egyptians have glimpsed a Muslim Brotherhood future and decided it does not work.

Military rule can give way to democracy—South Korea, Brazil, and Greece are modern examples. Hopefully, Egypt’s new, younger generals are working on a similar future for their country.

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