Egypt’s transition to democracy

As ambassador of Egypt, I wrote the following so that Japanese friends will accurately know about recent developments in my country.

Since our popular revolution of June 30 resulted in the removal of the former president from office, some people still struggle to grasp the events that led to this dramatic development, and those which followed. Let’s explain.

Egypt faced a deep crisis since November 2012 over the drafting of a new constitution. The Islamist coalition in power led by the Muslim Brotherhood rushed to a referendum, a seriously controversial text, viewed by all non-Islamist forces as altering the deeply entrenched Egyptian identity based on tolerance and inclusiveness, thus laying the ground for a new theocracy in the Middle East.

Following that crisis, the political situation became very tense. In the absence of an elected parliament, the former president and his Brotherhood gave the power to legislate to the advisory Shura Council, where Islamist parties had overwhelming majority, and used it to pass laws in conjunction with their medieval views.

By refusing to reshuffle the weak government to make it inclusive and more efficient, or by taking action against TV channels spreading hateful religious-based incitement against their opponents, and by embedding their incompetent supporters in all key posts of the state administration, the governing party was effectively implementing a dangerous policy of exclusiveness.

The deteriorating security situation in the Sinai Peninsula was a potential damage to national security. The Armed Forces were prevented from operating against dangerous terrorist networks that infiltrated there. Known terrorists were graced by the president in contravention of the law, and allowed to operate in Sinai, using hundreds of underground tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt.

Poor economic performance did not help redress the fast-dropping popularity of the former president. The Brotherhood instigated a number of serious collisions against the judiciary, and thugs were allowed to intimidate judges with impunity.

REBEL, a campaign by young activists, gathered 22 million signatures calling for early presidential elections but was ignored. So 35 million Egyptians took to the streets on June 30 to express their utter dissatisfaction and called on the president to resign.

Our military is highly respected, in particular because it held its promise to hand over power to a democratically elected civilian president in 2012. The people called on the Army to intervene because no other option was left. Had the military chosen not to heed the call, Egypt would have seen violent confrontations.

On July 3, a roadmap was adopted for the interim period outlining three significant milestones to be implemented in a year: amending the constitution, then holding parliamentary and presidential elections. The transitional government is headed by an economist and includes civilian technocrats.

Regretfully, the Brotherhood organized two major sit-ins in Cairo to disrupt the new order and restore the defunct regime. Those sit-ins were wrongly portrayed as peaceful whereas reality was entirely different. The barricades erected around them pointed to a long-term entrenchment. No country in the world would have tolerated, for six weeks, such major gatherings of lawlessness endangering public safety and national security.

After the sit-ins dispersal, Brotherhood supporters decided to engage in a terror campaign against the Egyptian state. The authorities are doing their duty in curbing this wave of violence, fear and terrorism.

We have witnessed terrorism before and vanquished it. We have the courage to face it again to safeguard our future. Law shall be applied on all those who committed crimes of terrorism and violence.

As Egypt moves forward, it looks out for its friends’ support. We are restoring our democracy based on tolerance, not violence. Egyptians shall prevail.

hisham el-zimaity
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Mohamed Hasan

    Once again, the Egyptian governmental Coup system
    is destroying democracy and killing people who protesting in peace, then, they
    said this is democracy according to their benefits and to keeping their job position. The more funny thing, the person who
    wrote that article mentioned “Our military is highly respected”
    because what? The military leaders ordered their soldiers to shooting the
    people in the streets by helicopters. I would like to ask that person who wrote
    that article; are you human, do you have brain, do you have mind? If you said
    the people who protested in peace are terrorists, No any photo support your
    words, no any evidence, all the world need at least only one photo to believe
    you. In fact, you and who controlled you, have nothing except the gun to
    shooting the people.

  • Maha Enany

    A reply to the article published on Japan
    times titled

    Egypt’s transition to Democracy

    It is not a revolution!! It is a bloody coup

    1-
    The Egyptian
    media lied about the exact numbers of anti- Morse’s who came out to Tahrir
    square and said they were 33 million people, how could anyone believe that this
    number of people could be present in a square, and second they photographed
    both Morse’s supporters who came out on the same day to support their elected
    president and anti-Morse’s and showed them all together as one population.

    2-
    The
    crises to human being came since the day of the coup,the army and police in
    Egypt started killing peaceful protesters in streets,squares, and 38 protesters
    who were choosen randomly from the streets were put in one care while going to
    Aboo Zabaal prison were left in one car from the early morning to night without
    water, oxygen and they died all in this car.

    3-
    The referendum
    was given to support the country basics of having Shora, people councils in
    order that the country be able to stand on her feet and start developing, but
    every step was hindered by the police and army unsupportive and lazy attitudes
    towards dr Morsi government and his orders.

    4-
    Troubles
    in Sini started while SISI the commander of the coup now while he was on charge
    of the army forces, so logical speaking he was the one who did all the trouble
    in Sini until now.

    5-
    REBEL
    was funded by Anti-Morse’s supporters; Swayres who is a business man admitted
    that he helped this REBEL movement to keep Morse out. Most of REBEL movement is
    street boys and girls they don’t represent respected Egyptian educated persons.

    6-
    The
    army leaders are not respected they took big amounts from GULF countries and Saudi
    Arabia to kill the dream of peace and democracy in Egypt.

    7-
    The
    road map written by the coup leaders compose of A- Bad economy situation
    B-Killing randomly whoever stand in front of the coup. C-Arrest more and more
    even university professors were arrested and they were not away from this
    map D. Terror being thrown in every
    home and town in Egypt

    8-
    The terrorism
    is what the coup leaders are doing, we want peace again and democracy for our
    country,our people deserve to live a good life in their beloved home(Egypt)

    Please pray with us to save Egypt

  • Maha Enany

    stop killing innocent people in Egypt, Stop arresting people every where in the streets,Stop using media as a machine to establish hate between egyptian people, Stop Stop Stop Stop bloody coup in Egypt

  • Hazem

    The article is inconsistent. I will just comment on the first point. The author states the crisis began with the drafting of the constitution in November 2012, because the President used an overwhelmingly Islamist “advisory board” (the Shura Council) to rush laws in the absence of an elected parliament.

    To put the facts correctly: The Shura Council is not an advisory board. It’s an elected house of the parliament. The other house was not absent, it was dissolved by the military a few hours before the elected president took office. A constitution drafting board (100 members) was formed by both houses of parliament before the president was elected. It contains much less Islamist members (50%) than their actual representation in the parliament (72%). The constitution was carefully drafted over the course of 6 months. The constitution passed by over 62% in a general referendum. After the referendum, the new constitution replaces the old one.

    Let us compare this with the post military coup constitution.

    - The military abolishes the constitution and the lower house of parliament.
    - In the absence of either constitution and parliament, the military appoints an interim president and prime minister.
    - The appointed president appoints a 10-member board to rush a constitution in 30 days. (Done).
    - The appointed prime minister appoints a 50-member board to revise the rushed constitution during 2 months only. (In progress).
    - We still don’t know if a referendum will take place or not.

    This shows us, unlike the article mentions, that Egypt is moving from democracy back to autocracy.