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The MB’s power grab… was it all a mistake?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

There are two extremes of differing opinions over the events in Egypt. The first has popularly supported the toppling of Mursi’s Brotherhood government, which means that allowing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to reach the presidency was a mistake from the start and what happened was just a corrective process.

Supporters of the opposing view believe that defending the change in Egypt, especially in what concerns the liberals, is a major crime of conscience. Both opinions are conflicting and reveal the intellectual gap in the Arab region and not only of Egypt. These opinions reflect the ignorance of those who are involved in the political debate today. Some colleagues have found that what I write these days about overthrowing Mursi, is contradicting with what I wrote when I “praised” the Brotherhood’s victory after the elections. No, it is not at all.

The Brotherhood’s victory indicated the success of the liberal democracy and ousting them when they went off track is a success too; a triumph over the concept of piracy and not the Brotherhood. We should oust anyone who does not abide by the rules, whether they are liberals, nationalists or from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Where Mursi went wrong

It’s not true that liberals turned against their own convictions when they supported the military coup. What Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood did was more dangerous than what Mubarak did, because they violated the conditions they had agreed on upon reaching power. They considered the ballot box as the means to dominate the country, as Hamas did in Gaza, Khomeini in Iran and Bashir and al-Turabi did in Sudan.

Toppling Mursi should be a lesson for the successors; they shall realize that the majority and the presidency do not give them the right to abuse institutions and freedoms. Even in the most conformist democracies, the change might occur when legislators or politicians feel that danger is looming in the horizon. President Richard Nixon was forced to resign after offending the opposing party.

A year after the prodigious triumph, Mursi seized the office of the Attorney-General, tried to control the judiciary and kept mum over his followers who blocked the entrance of the Constitutional Court while threatening the judges. Each of their acts is enough to hold the president to account; these crimes are constitutionally enough to isolate him.

If the Egyptians succeed in peacefully acknowledging the transitional phase, they will have reached an advanced stage of democracy.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

I support the need to involve the Muslim Brotherhood in the political process, where there is a democratic and popular political plan, although there are many concerns regarding their ability to accept a pluralistic regime that supports power changes.

In fact, the Brotherhood’s inclusion is essential for any collective political action, but it needs to be disciplined so that it realizes that it is involved in a political process, not a religious one. It is astounding to witness Egypt going through a period full of complications.

What Egypt has endured, from sit-ins to dealing with the crisis, managing the transitional phase and endorsing the intervention of the army, are all important parts of experimenting. If the Egyptians succeed in peacefully acknowledging the transitional phase, they will have reached an advanced stage of democracy.

The winning team should be aware that it reached power but is still controlled by the institutions. It should realize that its presidential laws are not immune, and that it cannot intrude in the judiciary. The winning team should defend the freedom of expression and reject violence and hatred. Is it possible for the Egyptians to reach an advanced stage that establishes the foundations of a state that is able to survive?

It is actually possible; there are high hopes for the Egyptians to overcome today’s crisis. They should all step forward towards an integrated reconciliation that involves both Mubarak and Mursi regimes. The country will then start a new page under a stronger and wealthier regime.


This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 3, 2013.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.