CAIRO, Egypt — In the latest demonstration of the success of Arab Spring, the formerly fledging country of Egypt is now under turmoil and unrest. President Mohammed Morsi, who is also the leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has not declared a state of emergency in highly populated areas.
In the day marking the fifth straight day marred by violence, Morsi declared a sweeping state of emergency in the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. There have been at least 50 dead Egyptians in the ensuing violence, which stems from a variety of factors.
The recent death penalties handed down to soccer protesters who, last year after a soccer match, killed other fans, have galvanized discontent Egyptians. In addition, the power-grabbing edicts and policies of the Muslim Brotherhood have enraged the typically secular Egyptian population. But, with their democracy backed up against a wall, Egyptians have responded with violence to voice their displeasure for Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party, allies and operatives. Morsi, when he issued one such edict that declared his policies immune to Egyptian court review, said that it was necessary to clean up the country.
Opponents, on the other hand, beg to differ with Morsi’s dictatorial reasoning. One such protestor Ibrahim Eissa, a cook by trade, bluntly said, ”We want to bring down the regime and end the state that is run by the Muslim Brotherhood”. Coptic Christians, a Christian minority in Egypt, as well as other non-Muslim minorities, are concerned about their status in a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egypt.
The Egyptian army has already been deployed to two of the three cities under the new state of emergency guidelines, and the presence of police in these areas have upset residents. The police, which was corrupt and brutal under previous ruler Hosni Mubarak, were given power to arrest people based on ‘suspicious’ behavior. The order restores power to the police that they had abused during Mubarak’s rule and is the wrong way to go for Morsi, several Middle Eastern experts have said.
Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch in Cairo said, “It is a classic knee-jerk reaction to think the emergency law will help bring security,” and “it gives so much discretion to the Ministry of Interior that it ends up causing more abuse, which in turn causes more anger.”
If only Obama got the message and acted on it: Trusting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is not the way to go for a stable democracy and U.S. ally.