At the moment, the situation in Egypt is complex, fluid, and it is not at all clear what exactly will be the end result of the ongoing protests.
With demands that President Morsi steps down, and the Egyptian military issuing a 48 hours ultimatum (soon to expire), questions have been raised with regards to the motivations of the military leadership, and the consequences for Egyptian democracy.
Andrew Sullivan, a writer I very much admire, writes that the prospect of a democratically elected government in Egypt being prematurely overthrown by a popular military coup as deeply ominous for Egypt’s democratic future.
Though he is, in my opinion, correct in his assessment, it is vital to understand the role that the Muslim Brotherhood has created for itself in Egypt over the last year.
As the Egyptian journalist Sara Khorshid, reminds us:
Democracy falls within a framework that is wider than just the ballot boxes, and the rule of a group that has constantly defied democratic principles cannot be accepted under the pretext of honouring the “democratic process” or “electoral legitimacy”.
Importantly, the Muslim Brotherhood has
positioned itself as an organised force that stands as an alternative to state apparatuses such as the army and the police … case in point is the ongoing anti-June 30 protests being led by the Muslim Brotherhood, allegedly in defence of “constitutional legitimacy” - as if the constitution and the legitimacy derived from it belonged to the Brotherhood and not to the collective Egyptian people.
Listing further examples, Khorshid argues that these, and other examples show that
the 80-year-old movement has been playing a role that would have been otherwise played by the nation state. The fact that state institutions are dominated by Mubarak loyalists who refuse to accept the result of the revolution and accept Morsi’s rule provides no justification for the Brotherhood to fill in for these bodies. It is Morsi himself who refused to restructure state institutions, and has often wooed them, stating that they played an honourable role in the revolution.
In sum, It is difficult to disagree with her assessment that:
Military rule runs contrary to democracy and it should be rejected and overturned by civilian, democratic rule. At the same time, the Brotherhood’s attempt to replace state apparatuses and seize the nation state’s role in society is clearly undemocratic and cannot be justified on the grounds of advancing the revolution.
As the situation in Egypt is currently ongoing, and events are quickly happening in succession, it is difficult to determine the final outcome of these events.
However, one should not conflate support for Morsi as support for Egyptian Democracy, nor underestimate the Muslim Brotherhood in the coming hours, days or weeks.