Monday, June 25, 2012

let's give Egyptian democracy a chance



Let's give Egyptian democracy a chance

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Give Egypt's new president the benefit of the doubt.

The candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Mursi, was recently elected the president of Egypt. After decades of covert struggle, the Muslim Brotherhood has now emerged into open air, through the power of the ballot box.

The day he won, the former U.S.-trained engineer graciously stressed unity: "I will serve all Egyptians, Muslims and Copts; there will be no difference between one community and another. There will be no settling of scores, revenge or oppression after today."

If Mursi succeeds as a president, he will have conducted the first Arab experiment that integrates religion with democracy.

In attempting to do so, he would do well to look at the Turkish Islamic model. It emphasizes human development, a strong industrial base and partnerships across borders. It took many years for the Turkish government to tame its military. Ankara managed to clip the wings of the generals after it significantly improved the economy.

There are some signs that the Muslim Brotherhood may adopt the Turkish framework. Mursi recently formed the Freedom and Justice Party, a parallel structure to Turkey's Development and Justice Party. Both parties were instituted in the two countries to ensure some separation of the religious movement from secular executive power. Egypt won't make an exact copy of the Turkish model, but it should gain insight from it.

Then there is the problem of the military.

Mursi will have to form a coalition government engaging secular parties and civic society groups to be able to gradually liberate the system from the military.

Since the downfall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has aggressively retained a strong hold on the legislative and executive power and on internal security. Its unconstitutional power grab in the days leading up to the election cannot be allowed to stand.

Egyptians have chosen their leader. The world community ought to give Mursi a chance to succeed or fail. If Mursi fails in his leadership, the next elections will show him out. Democracy is served when the electoral process is respected.


Ghassan Michel Rubeiz, a social scientist andpolitical commentator,is the former secretary of the Middle East for the Geneva-based World Council of Churches. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Readers may write to the author at: Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, Wis. 53703; email:; Web site: For information on PMP's funding, please visit

This article was prepared for The Progressive Media Project and is available to MCT subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

2012 Ghassan Michel Rubeiz

Copyright 2012


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