Give Egypt a Break! [Arab News]

October 1, 2013

Linda S. Heard

You just have to Google ‘Egypt news’ to know that the country’s interim government is coming under international flak for its imposition of emergency law, its ‘failure’ to include the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the political process and for so-called human rights abuses. Such criticisms are myopic and many unfounded because they fail to take into account that the very fabric of the most populated Arab country is under attack from within, requiring temporary extraordinary measures.

Those measures may offend the democratic sensibilities of the US, Europe and human rights groups but the majority of Egyptians understand their future is at stake and, thus, back the authorities to the hilt. If they didn’t approve of emergency law, they would be out in the street in the millions. Some of the most virulent critics are fellows of the Brookings Institution based in Washington, individuals who portray themselves as Middle East experts when from their writings it’s clear that most have no idea of the facts on the ground. Take Dr. H.A. Hellyer for example. Writing on the Al Arabiya website, he says: “The authorities ought to ask themselves this question — If Mursi had called for early presidential elections, responding to the will of the majority of Egyptians how would Egypt look like right now?” He goes on to suggest that by including the Muslim Brotherhood the authorities “would have everything to gain, both in reducing polarization domestically, and gaining support internationally.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?

There’s just one small flaw in Dr. Hellyer’s argument. Mursi refused absolutely to call for early elections and when he was asked to resign he answered it’s either me or blood. Is this the answer of a patriot who loves his country? Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood lost its legitimacy as a political force when its leaders called for jihad against their fellow Egyptians and glorified martyrdom. It bled supporters when its AK-47, Molotov-wielding following went on the rampage in Cairo and elsewhere burning homes, shops, churches and indiscriminately firing at passers-by. Since July 3, when Mursi was ousted, the interim government repeatedly reached out to Brotherhood leaders asking them to accept the status quo as the people’s will and move forward. They were invited to join the transitional government and the 50-member constitutional committee; offers that were turned down point blank. By turning to violence against the state and against its compatriots to make its point, the MB burnt its boats. The MB is no longer trusted and, indeed, it is widely viewed as owing its prime allegiance to the international Brotherhood organization that has offices in more than 60 countries. President Obama, Senator John McCain, the EU’s Catherine Ashton, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and old uncle Tom Cobbley ‘n’ all never cease to call for the immediate release of Mursi and his Brotherhood head honchos, who insist those arrests were purely politically motivated. The reality is that most are being investigated for inciting violence, conspiracy to murder, disseminating anti-government propaganda/lies abroad or conspiring with foreign governments against the state. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour who’s been interviewing various Egyptian officials, including the presidential spokesman and the Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations, with a disapproving curled lip, has sneered at the idea that Egypt’s judiciary is independent; likewise John McCain who uses the ‘coup’ word like confetti. Their underhand digs and insults make my blood boil – and I’m not even Egyptian — simply because judges have fought tooth and nail for their independence since the Jan. 25, 2011 revolution and refuted attempts by Mursi to place the judiciary under his thumb. Egypt is no banana republic or rogue state and it’s no wonder that the country is turning-in on itself while its people feel they’re under siege.

Amanpour, who pours her personal bile on Egyptian interviewees — other than her Muslim Brotherhood buddies like the arch propagandist Gehad El-Haddad — haughtily condemned emergency law during an interview with the president’s spokesman Mustafa Hegazy and fairly sniffed when he told her that the situation warrants a curfew in order to keep Egyptians safe and pointed out that in 1992 Los Angeles drew upon emergency laws to quell street riots. Are you comparing Egypt to Los Angeles? came her answer, as though such a comparison was unthinkable if not offensive?
Ms. high-and-mighty Amanpour who sets herself up as the human rights police vis-à-vis Egypt has a short memory. I don’t recall her condemning the Bush administration when thousands of American-Muslims were rounded up post 9-11 and held for months without access to lawyers or family members when not a single one was charged with any offence. And how dare she turn up her nose at Egypt’s human rights record, when she has nothing to say about America’s gulag on the coast of Cuba, Guantanamo, where hundreds of “detainees” are still being incarcerated without trial. Accusations that the country is moving back to the Mubarak era flying around the media are nothing short of hysteria. Ordinary Egyptians lost their fear on Jan. 25, 2011 and will no longer accept authoritarianism. If anything, the shape of this new Egypt is staunchly nationalist — more Nasser than Mubarak — which is probably why the US administration that lost a US-compliant leader in Mohammed Mursi is not amused. Obama has made a huge mistake by not supporting this transitional phase and withholding aid as well as the delivery of F-16s. Egyptians increasingly see the United States as a foe and are calling for a military/economic partnership with Moscow.

Give Egypt a break! It might not be abiding strictly by the democratic rule book when working towards a secure environment is paramount to bring back investment and tourism and permit citizens to go about their business in safety, but this is just one necessary stage until the new constitution goes to referendum, parliamentary elections are held later this year, followed by a presidential ballot next spring.

God bless Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait for standing solidly with the Egyptian government and people during one of the most troubled times in the country’s recent history. Egyptians will not forget the outpouring of goodwill, diplomatic backing and the financial lifelines that those states have so generously given. Egypt will stand strong soon and will forever appreciate its friends that stood by its side when the chips were down.

Source: Arab News

Photo: Chuck Hagel, CC

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