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.
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.