Military rulers bring Egypt into disrepute


Anti Morsi protest march, 28 June 2013It was in England that I heard for the first time of a football player being charged with bringing the game into disrepute. I was amused. From an outsider's perspective the whole aim of rugby was to bring the game into disrepute. And the spectators seemed to relish its most disreputable features.

I can now see the point of the charge. If suspicion persists that players were encouraged to take drugs whose long term effects are unknown, it would lead parents actively to discourage their children from playing the game at senior level, with incalculable commercial consequences. Disrepute and disaster are twins.

Games are games. It is a much more serious and potentially dangerous thing to bring a nation's polity into disrepute. And that sadly is what the military rulers of Egypt appear to have done when crushing the protests by the supporters of the elected and desposed President Mohamed Morsi. Over 400 people died, perhaps many more.

Egypt has a long tradition of military influence in politics. Gamal Nasser came to power following a military coup. His successor, Anwar al-Sadat was one of the original revolutionary officers, and was killed by army officers. Hosni Mubarak, previously an air force officer, was eventually deposed by the military after popular protests. The military enabled the civil elections that led to the presidency of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi in turn was deposed by the military after protests that revealed widespread disaffection with his authoritarian rule and with the perceived sectarian goals of the Muslim Brotherhood. The army promised to take power for a month in preparation for another election, hoping to broker a new settlement.

But the deposition and arrest of Morsi led to widespread protests by his supporters. Fatefully the army, which had shortly before appointed officers as governors to the majority of provinces, decided to disperse the protests at the cost of a massive civilian death toll as troops fired into the crowds with shotguns, machine guns and sniper fire.

Since these events the acting prime minister, the liberal Mohamed El Baradei, has resigned. The army now rules by default, its strong-man general and defence minister Abdel Fattah al-Sini enjoying much popular support.

It is hard to imagine anyone bringing a national polity further into disrepute than the Egyptian army officers. They promised to return to a less autocratic polity than Morsi, and the monument to their own style of government will be the rows of gravestones of their victims.

Now that the army has become embroiled in divisive politics we may expect that it will do what such armies do best. It will treat the nation to a diet of counter-insurgency, trumpeting the need for the army, isolating its enemies, building its intelligence services through the whole of society, all in the name of state security.

In the meantime the Muslim Brotherhood will be driven underground, resentment will build, Christian churches will be burned because they are not worth defending, and people will eventually demand a polity of repute. But at what cost.

Andrew Hamilton headshotAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street.

Image: Anti Morsi protest march, 28 June 2013

Topic tags: Andrew Hamilton, Egypt, Gamal Nasser, Mohamed Morsi, Hosni Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed El Baradei



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Existing comments

Not so long ago my church's noticeboard contained the words "Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints". As I limp into church tomorrow morning I shall be remembering those words. I'll also be praying, earnestly, for an end to the bloodshed and conflict in Egypt. The Importance of Being Earnest.
Pam | 17 August 2013

The Coptic Church was under attack from the Muslim Brotherhood long before the military deposed Morsi. Its members were systematically murdered, kidnapped and raped, whilst its Churches, monasteries and schools were burned and vandalised. It was all part of the Brotherhood's militant campaign to clear Egypt of anyone who was not a Muslims. The plight of this ancient minority has been well documented on the internet. However, the mainstream media have not been interested in reporting it.
Paul Andrews | 17 August 2013

The Egyptian military -- all alone? With no help or encouragement from the USA?
Janet | 19 August 2013

There was much hope, when Morsi came to power, especially as he "resigned" from the Muslim Brotherhood and promised to rule for all Egyptians, that he would keep his word. That proved untrue. The Brotherhood was not a major player in the protests against Mubarak but kept its powder dry for the elections which were boycotted by many of the secularists. When in power the Brotherhood (Morsi still implementing Brotherhood policy) effectively sidelined anyone opposed to them. The coup by the military got rid of a Brotherhood government which was intent on establishing an Islamic State with Sharia and all its trimmings. Most Egyptians didn't want that. It is, for many, a choice between the old corrupt regime being reborn with all its endemic corruption or an Islamic State. Many educated Egyptians having lived and worked in regressive, corrupt, nepotistic Wahhabi Saudi Arabia an Islamic State was the last thing they wanted. It does seem a Devil's Bargain. Hopefully the USA and other economic supporters of this bankrupt nation will insist that the mistreatment of; discrimination against and murder of the Copts ( 10% of the population) immediately cease. It is not prayers but our diplomatic action the Copts need.
Edward F | 19 August 2013

I wonder what mainstream media Paul Andrews follows. Attacks on Coptic Christians and their churches have been reported by respected mainstream media including SBS, the ABC, the Australian, Age & SMH. It was also reported by these respected media outlets that, in the heady days of the anti-Mubarak revolution, liberal and secular Muslims protected churches against attack during the major feast days of the Christmas period. While I support Foreign Affairs Minister Carr's expression of concern for Coptic Christians I would hope that, in representations to the Egyptian Ambassador, he acknowledges that the great majority of Egyptian people yearning for a Western style democracy are secular and liberal Muslims. These are the people, together with the majority of Coptic Christians, on whom the future of Egypt depends. If the Western world narrows its concern for the Christian minority, some liberal Muslims, feeling that all Muslims are under attack from the West, will move towards supporting the militarist minority. Democracy in culturally diverse countries depends on a strong civil society based on liberal and secular values. Egypt has demonstrated the potential for democracy and Australia should support both religious communities towards realisation of that potential.
Ian Fraser | 19 August 2013

Get your facts right Fr Hamilton before writing about Egypt. And make sure to spell names correctly. Obviously you don't have a clue about recent events in Egypt or its history otherwise you would have at least got the names of its presidents correct. Yours Faithfully, Aboelkassem
Aboelkassem | 20 August 2013

The title says" Safwat Heghazey confesses the responsibility of Muslim Brotherhood group to burn down Copts Churches and shops if Morsi oust. here is this link. Please get some one to interpret if you want to seek the truth otherwise don't write articles about subjects you don't know. One more thing; Do not listen to Algazeera because it is a convients media source in Australia. Aljazeera, BBC and CNN TV are Truth fakers Al-Jazeera suffers both US and Arab hostility (Truth faker) There are lots of these type of articles and videos but you just have to open your eyes and sharpen your hearing, and do your home work properly.
Aboelkassem | 23 August 2013

Dear Fr Hamilton, Please allow me to say that you have got your facts all wrong . I don't blame you for your ignorance about the whole matter and facts. Obviously you have been misled like millions, that they have been separated from the truth by the misleading media and also the laziness of individuals to source the correct and fair answer. Pity that you are an educated person and not doing much home work to make sure that what you are publishing is based on facts and not fiction. Collecting your information based on corrupted media only. Australian audio and visual Media is based on corrupted international media “like BBC, CNN and Aljazeera TV" when it comes to announce events. You are talking about previous and recent Egyptian presidents when you haven't even lived there for sometimes to feel what people have gone through, or know anything about the country apart from what you read from your history books. How could you be sure to say these things and analyze a country that you are not a native of its land!!!!??????? You don't know how the true, moderate and caring Egyptians love Egypt the love of their own mother. These are the millions who protested in the streets to oust Morsi the dictator and not the Police or Military as per your fiction. If you would like to enlighten yourself about a country like Egypt with 7000 years of history, you just have to live there permanently (not just now) and bury your head into its libraries for the rest of your life. May I offer you a deeply considered view and assessment of the situation? The current situation is for some political benefits and trends the international media (Including your article in the Eureka Street Magazine) is trying to reflect a deceiving and lying image regarding the Egyptian Army and government. The truth is the Egyptian Army and Police are against a group of terrorist and extremists known as “Islamist Brotherhood” or "Muslim Brotherhood". They were always considered as a hostile group of terrorists to the entire world and supported by Al Qaeda terrorist group. All of the moderate Egyptians Muslims & Christians are against those terrorists and their goals especially after their hostile behavior against civilians, blocking streets, burning hospitals, factories, Mosques and Churches terrifying people and killing police and army members. On the other hand using Hamas (an armed Palestinian terrorist group) in attacking Egyptian lands on North Sinai, we can’t understand the reaction of the American and European Governments except being totally unfair taking the wrong and evil side, I hope they will realize that what goes around comes around and when you enhance a deadly contagious virus you can easily get affected by it. May God protect Egypt and its national loyal army! The Muslim Brotherhood is the terrorist group in Egypt. In other Arabic and European countries (Germany, France, Britain) including America, Israel and Qatar, the truth is often not reported by the media. It would seem that vested interests color and shape what news will be reported. Sadly enough Aljazeera, BBC and CNN TV are misleading the whole world. On the other hand the Egyptian-English and Egyptian-French broadcasting channels like Nile TV, ON TV and some others seem to source the true story behind events, People should be aware of the sinister motives that distort reports from places of disturbance. America in particular has always presented world news in terms of their own power play. Often one wonders are people killed and murdered because of these inaccurate reports. Media of any kind should be based on integrity, honesty and a fair assessment of these sad events. I hope as you have been misled on the recent article, to reconsider what you have written and re-write, correct your readers and spread the truth for the sake of saving a country with its innocent people and great ancient and modern culture.
Aboelkassem | 23 August 2013

Dear Fr Hamilton. here is one of many links to prove to you what I said about Aljazeera faking TV
Aboelkassem | 23 August 2013

Fr Hamilton. Read more:.
Aboelkassem | 25 August 2013

Post election, the Egyptian Brotherhood began measures to beef up sharia laws which even moderate Muslims object to. Attacks upon Coptic Christians continued to increase. Democracy was misused when Morsi came to power. Across North Africa lawlessness is rarely reported after Ghaddafi's overthrow in Libya. In Syria the reportage and the leading Western nations back foreign Islamic groups thus increasing the mutilations, rapes and murder of civilians.
David Mallia | 28 August 2013


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