A loud chorus of media and political voices have been describing the Egyptian transition of governmental power on June 30th as a military coup.
While there's no question that Egypt’s military orchestrated the transition, I can name at least 12 reasons why the action was an essential and admirable re-direction of power away from dictatorship — rather than a coup.
Hopefully the land of the pharoahs is now better positioned toward a true democratic future as a result. Here are the 12 reasons:
1. In a military coup the military usually acts first. In Egypt the opposite happened. More than 30 million Egyptians took to the streets in cities all across Egypt to demand the removal of then president Mohammed Morsi. This included Muslims and Christians — people of all economic means, business people, professionals, media, and even police. By contrast, only tens of thousands citizens, primarily Muslim Brotherhood members, protested in support of Morsi.
The people of Egypt voted with their feet on the street. The military’s subsequent action in removing Morsi was a response to this dramatic and remarkably unified vote of the people against a tyrannical leader, not a step initiated by the military to take over the country.
2. Had there been a military coup, a military general would have replaced Morsi. In this instance, as soon as the military removed Morsi from power, the military selected a widely respected civilian leader to rule the country until new elections could be organized.
3. If the balloting by which Morsi took office is the only factor to be considered, then Hosni Mubarak must still be considered the legitimate president of Egypt. Mubarak also came to power via an election. Note also that he too was ultimately removed by the military.
4. The argument that Mubarak’s election had been fraudulent would apply equally to Morsi. In June 2012, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters surrounded the Supreme Court judges who had the authority to declare the winner in the final presidential race. They threatened to kill judges and turn the country into a sea of blood if any candidate other than Morsi was declared the winner. Can this be described as legitimate balloting?
5. Breaking his presidential oath, Morsi seized dictatorial-like control of all powers of the government. To insure his power, he imprisoned and shot many of the secular leaders who launched the first Arab Spring. Is this democracy at work?
6. Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood regard elections as a means to obtaining political power. For example, Hamas in Gaza, a group with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, used the power they obtained via elections to declare that there would be no further elections. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying, “We ride the bus of democracy until it takes us where we want to go; then we get off the bus.” In the Islamic world, elections are just as likely to signal the end of democracy as the beginning.
7. The military deserves praise for having used minimal violence — thus far at least — against Muslim Brotherhood protestors. The military faces a difficult question with regard to how best to deal with demonstrators, some of whom aim to kill anyone whose political preferences differ from theirs. In some cases they carry explosives to use against the police or military who attempt to maintain order.
How would American police officers respond to armed political demonstrators who throw Molotov cocktails at them, with a complete disregard to innocent bystanders? A video circulating on Arabic social media offers a prime example of how Pro-Morsi Islamists treat those who oppose them. The video shows Islamist supporters throwing their opponents from the roof-top of a building.
8. Words may have opposite meanings in different cultural contexts. While the word “demonstrator” has positive connotations in America, “demonstrators” to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood connotes violence and brutality. Similarly, the word “coup” in America sounds anti-democratic, and yet in Egypt the meaning and impact are the opposite. “Coup” refers to the removal of a tyrant to “give peace a chance.”
9. Some Americans are blaming the military for closing Islamist media outlets. These media outlets were promulgating a religious fatwa that incited the killing of Anti Morsi demonstrators. In Yemen, the U.S. military killed American citizen Al-Awlaqui because he issued similar fatwas encouraging Muslims to commit violent acts.
10. Morsi had rejected a request from the opposition to hold early elections. Additionally, since nearly all elections and referendums that occurred since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power have been conducted dishonestly. Egyptians understand that the ballot box would be useless as long as Morsi remained in power. Demonstrating in the streets with the hope that the military would hear their collective voice and take action on their behalf was the only remaining option to eliminate a corrupt dictatorship.
11. The military in Egypt serves a key role. It is the only Egyptian institution with the power to save the country from chaos. It also is the only Egyptian institution with potential power to rectify the country’s increasingly non-viable economy.
12. Lastly, Egypt’s military is the country’s only institution with close and positive ties to America. If Americans call this action a coup, we prevent our government from giving further aid to the country. This pathway would directly punish our one ally within Egypt. It would also block the only Egyptian institution with the potential to bring democracy to the Egyptian people.
The military’s removal of Morsi from power MUST be seen as a legitimate pro-democracy step. The military acted in response to the voice of Egypt’s citizens, who understood that they must remove an anti-democratic leader whose rule was leading the country into certain economic disaster, potential mass starvation, and ever-increasing chaos.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.
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