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September 22, 2013

Egypt's Brotherhood in the Western media

Mohamed Elkoteishi

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Obviously, one of the most outstanding signs of the deep crisis Egypt is undergoing right now is the wide gap separating the vision of the Egyptians who took to the streets on June 30th against Mohamed Morsi and that of the Western media.

Although the difference between the two visions centered – at the outset of the crisis – on the word “Coup”, yet I believe here that the essence of such difference has nothing to do with describing the move of the army, rather it is quite related to the visions of the two sides (the Egyptians and the Western media) towards the Muslim Brotherhood.

Following up most of what has been aired and published by the Canadian Anglophone media, I found no difficulty to monitor some points that might be useful in clarifying the differences between the aforementioned two visions.

On one hand, and despite the fact that it observed evidences of Morsi’s undemocratic conduct together with his government’s mismanagement, the Western media, it seems, looked to Morsi as the legitimate president who came to power through free and fair elections and that the Egyptians should have given him a chance to complete his term in office for another 3 years and voting him out should be the only way to oust him.

On the other hand, the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets on June 30 and the following days see the question entirely different.

Although they believe that leading an uprising against a freely elected president constitutes a great risk threatening the principle of a peaceful handover of power, one of the key pillars of democracy, yet they figured out that such aspired-for democracy had already been at stake.

They ascribed this danger to Morsi’s reckless decision starting from the issuance of the constitutional declaration on November 22, 2012, appointing the prosecutor general away from the observed judiciary manners and in defiance of the Supreme Constitutional Court, and ignoring perceptions of the opposition on the constitution that did not pay enough heed to the spirit and the principles of equity and freedoms.

In other way, those who took to the streets were afraid that the door of freedom will be shut in their face forever, and thus there will be no chance even to hold new elections where their votes would count.

Many of the western journalists, who sympathized with the 25th January Revolution, looked to the Muslim Brotherhood as a revolutionist faction that assumed power legitimately due to its well organized structure.

However, many of the Egyptians have never seen the Brotherhood as revolutionist.

The vision of the Egyptians who took to the streets, as a matter of fact, seems to be justifiable, as the Brotherhood has never shown any support to maintaining the goals of the revolution hence they sought only few reforms.

After assuming power, the Brotherhood, further arrested and imprisoned the figures of the January 25th Revolution and completely overrode the demands of the revolution for freedom and social justice.

While the Western media deemed the Muslim Brotherhood as political faction that should enjoy the political détente brought about by the January 25th Revolution, many of the Egyptians, on the contrary, reckon that there is a big difference between the “Freedom and Justice Party”, which has the full right to practice politics, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which they conceive as a religious group.

Doubts have been cast on the nature of the relations binding the “Freedom and Justice” political party and the Brotherhood group itself, as this has been clearly reflected on the relations between the Presidential Palace and the “Irshad” office, which was then governed by the Brotherhood “Morshid”.

Maybe, the Western journalists have not been deeply moved by harsh pain the Egyptian people felt due to the discrimination policy exercised by the Brotherhood following their power assumption, as the Brotherhood not only favored its supporters and members in granting them key posts in the State, but also in providing social services to the poorest Egyptians who make up the base of the group’s influence, a matter that played a great role in stirring sentiments of the Egyptians.

The fact that the Brotherhood is a self-centered religious group, not a political party, was behind the negative emotions that controlled most of the Egyptian people who took to the streets calling for early elections.

The most important difference that separates the aforementioned two visions, moreover, is that the West deems democracy as voting process because Western countries have been exercising rules and principles of democracy for centuries, while the Egyptians think that they did not make two great revolutions just to hold elections, rather they believe that they revolted to change the rules of the entire political process.

As the revolution is still struggling for laying down such new rules, Western media should show much more sympathy with the aspirations of the Egyptian people that has been yearning for a long-awaited real democracy. 

Mohamed Elkoteishi is Head of the Press Office, Embassy of Egypt, Ottawa.

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