Why the Anti-Mursi Protesters Are Right


Ahmad Shokr in MERIP (image from Wikimedia commons):

The draft constitution does not reflect a democratic consensus, as many in the opposition have argued that it should. It reflects an emerging relationship between the Muslim Brothers and existing state institutions, like the army, along with a great deal of appeasement of the salafis, whom the Brothers have embraced as junior partners. The rush to a referendum suggests a deep anxiety among the state elites about continuing instability and a desire to seize the opportunity to cement a new political framework as quickly as possible. More worrisome than the text itself is the vision these leaders have for which voices count and which alliances matter in the new Egypt. Should this vision go unchallenged, the losers would be all those who have been calling for more pluralistic and inclusive system.

In his December 6 post, Jason Brownlee writes, “It is important that the ideological debate between liberalism and Islamism not be seen as a battle between democracy and authoritarianism.” Perhaps recent events in Egypt call for a rethinking of these terms. True, liberalism and democracy are not automatic counterparts, no more than Islamism and authoritarianism are. But the battle in Egypt is indeed one between a democracy that reflects the country’s political diversity and a remodeled authoritarianism, led by the Muslim Brothers and their allies, that seeks to circumscribe it.