Those Egyptians weren’t kidding. When they crowded Tahrir Square in Cairo last year demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, they weren’t asking for anybody but him. That’s what new President Mohammed Morsi is discovering as the throngs return to the famous square protesting his power grab.
Apparently, Egyptians want an honest and democratic government and they are willing to put themselves at risk to get it.
Morsi last week issued a series of edicts that claimed power over the nation’s judiciary, the last branch of Egyptian government he does not control. The response was immediate, as anger mounted on the plausible belief that Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood used their election victories to monopolize power, marginalize opponents and issue a new Islamist constitution. Meanwhile, they have done nothing to resolve the nation’s economic and security problems.
“Power has exposed the Brotherhood,” said Laila Salah, a housewife in the Tahrir Square protest. “We discovered their true face.”
Indeed, they did. Morsi and the rest of the Muslim Brotherhood are exposed as just another gang of ideologues intent on having it their way, whatever their countrymen want. If Morsi thought it would be easy, though, both the judiciary, which has called a strike, and especially the Egyptians protesting in Cairo and elsewhere, are sending a different message.
It’s a heartening sign that Egypt won’t easily slide back into autocracy. Whether it is enough is hard to tell, but the fact is that no one but Egyptians, themselves, are likely to be able to prevent it. This is their fight, and they are stepping up to it.
The Brotherhood, meanwhile, insists that it will not back down and that if protesters can muster 100,000 or 200,000 people, supporters of Morsi and the Brotherhood will overwhelm them with “millions” in their support. Bluff? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, the new uprising in Egypt should not go unnoticed in Libya, where the new government remains unstable, or in Syria, where rebels are trying to dislodge the brutal government of Bashar Assad. People do not want to risk their lives only to find out that the new boss is just like the old boss.
Or as Laila Salah put it: It’s like a wife whose husband was beating her until one day she divorces him and becomes free. If she remarries, she’ll never accept another day of abuse.
No one should, in Egypt, in Libya, in Syria or anywhere else.