By Elvis –Wura Towolawi
The World has been enthralled, and then enraged by the disturbing events unfolding in Egypt. At first, it was hailed as the triumph of the human spirit yearning for a change and liberty: a break from the manacle of dictatorial leadership propped by military whim and squeeze – the Arab Spring. Expectedly, the Arab Awakening like every other revolution swept like hurricane through the Arab world, dislodging several sit tight rulers, and in one unseeming instance resulted in a fierce war as we still have burning in Syria with its attendant blood-bath and human suffering. And suddenly in Egypt, the sweat, tears and blood of the people crying for democracy and respect of their rights were all lost, in one full swoop of military adventurism, apparently goaded by acts of religions bigots and extremists laced with illiberal leadership. Since the coup, Egypt has been boiling in the Cauldron of mass protests and sit-shed; tainted with violence and blood and one wonders whether the Military and its puppet government can truly restore and satisfy the thirst of Egyptians for a democratic state where human dignity, tolerance and progress reign supreme like rainbow in the sky.
Historically, the paths leading to Tahir Square are well-documented. But when the Muslim Brotherhood assumed the leadership and wielded the staff of power, manned by ousted President Mohammed Morsi, religion started to have an unnerving romantic affair with politics, policies and rights. This unexpected fits of fanaticism as evinced by the Muslim Brotherhood created a breach in the hedge of democracy and enticed a reluctant retiring military to take another bite at governance and politics; imposing its surrogate, thus putting out the gathering light of democrarcy and the will of the Egyptian people. There is no doubt that the Morsi-Muslim Brotherhood – led government was fast transforming itself into a theocratic-quasi-democracy, marked by Constitutional restrictions on the peoples’ hard-won rights; but is it sufficient ground for the military to rush back to the arena and impose its will and puppet with utter disdain for the tenet of democracy and the peoples’ will? Military junta is an aberration; a leper’s hand which should be confined to the barrack to carry out its Constitutional duties. Allowing the Military to oust the Morsi -led government is a great minus for the sacrifice of the Egyptian people in the Arab Spring. It is like giving something with the left hand and taking it back with the right hand – a child’s circus!
Whenever a peoples’ legitimate will expressed through democratic processes are suppressed and subverted through coup d’etat, the ground becomes open and level for the rule of might to reign; an era the world has moved away from and tries to avoid as a nightmare. Now, the chicks are coming home to roost. Reports have it that hundreds of people have been killed as Egyptian security forces moved in to clear camps in Cairo occupied by supporters to ousted President Mohammed Morsi (See: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east/). And what is more – a one- month nationwide state of emergency proclaimed in Egypt. It appears it is really going to pour in Egypt.
What beautifies any democracy is the leverage for the people therein to express their legitimate and civil right to dissent; either through an election or other lawful means accorded to them through the instrumentality of human rights regime which is clearly universal. The Egyptian people in the course of the Arab Awakening expressed their rights and desire for democracy and the fruitage of human rights, and like every teething child should expect some pains and falls. Therefore, it is imperative that the baby should not be thrown away with the water and bath-tub. We must understand that for democracy to grow, it must be watered by dialogue, respect for human rights and the Rule of Law.
A situation where the Military wakes up one morning and depose a democratically elected President, perhaps for not liking the shape of his lips and nose, and further trample under its jackboot legitimate dissatisfaction and dissent does not augur well for democracy and human rights. Sadly, it creates the impression that the seeds of the Arab Spring were sown on hard and unfertile grounds and the Will to enthrone human rights a charade! Let it not be so. Figures concerning death toll since the crack-down on dissents keep soaring; not to mention indiscriminate arrest of protesters and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood which smacks of vengeful humiliation. These unpalatable occurrences are glaring set-backs for human rights regime in the Arab world and the world at large. The United Nations and a league of other human rights respecting nations have openly shown their displeasure through unfeigned condemnation of the events in Egypt.
In summation, the Arab Awakening and its repercussion for despotic regimes has added fillip to the wings of human rights and democracy in that region. But the fall-out in Egypt puts a sad face on the benefits of the Awakening. One lesson remains: states, especially democratic states must try as much as it can to avoid legislating one religion over the rest, especially in this world of variegated beliefs and practices. And two, the Military must be checked as a monster capable of making light and valueless the struggles for democracy and respect for human rights. It must not be allowed to misadventure into politics for its capricious and tyrannical propensities as well as its impatience for dialogue and reconciliation. What Egyptians need now is dialogue. All Egyptians want is a viable democracy and respect for their human rights; not bullets, jackboots and some puppet-government riding on the back of some khaki – leathered tiger!