We live in interesting times, unfortunately.
Black hole by hapal
Not long ago, the terms "secular" and "democrat" seemed conjoined, at least in some capitalist countries.
But not in the Middle East. Not before, and not now.
Today, Middle Eastern secularists are back to their old form, busying themselves with:
- violently rejecting outcomes of elections they lose, as was the case in the 2009 Iranian elections.
- attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government in Turkey, and now deposing an elected government.
- overthrowing the first and only democratic government in Egypt's history, in collusion with remaining elements of the previous regime in Egypt. Some revolution!
Let's stay with Egypt.
Morsi certainly did mismanage his opportunity. Perhaps his biggest mistake was failing to be inclusive in how he managed the transition. And he did not see the military coming. Plus, his stance on Syria was awful. Don't even mention the economy!
Still, it must be remembered that Morsi became president through popular elections, and that he was given a four-year term to sort out the total mess he inherited. All who participated in the elections agreed implicitly that the time to judge his performance would be four years later, not one year later.
Who exactly had the authority to curtail Morsi's term of office? Did the votes of over 50% of the Egyptian electorate not count? They represented the wishes of several million people, which have now been trampled on by a minority.
The secularists have put the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in a situation where they have to either accept total defeat and humiliation by the military (as they have on several occasions in the past, since the time of Nasser), or resist, peacefully or otherwise.
There certainly is no rule of law for them to appeal to.
Worse still, the violent Islamic groups that have shown no trust or belief in democratic methods will feel vindicated. By showing no respect for the rule of law, the Egyptian military is in effect bolstering the cause of the region's jihadists. And it's driving members of the Muslim Brotherhood toward greater radicalism, right across the region.
Actually, the implications of Morsi's ouster may go even deeper. We are living in a period when a large section of secular actors in the Middle East show a disdain for democratic ideals, and the most democratic Middle Eastern actors appear to be the moderate religious parties. And that can be said without even mentioning the obvious popular appeal of the moderate religious parties at the ballot box.