It’s taken a few days to sink in, but Mohamed Morsy is Egypt’s new president. I keep repeating it to myself to try to make sense as to how this is a rational choice made by a country that has been torn by political instability caused, in part, by the very presence of the Brotherhood.
Morsy, or as many called him, the ‘spare tire’ candidate, is an example of the continued radicalization that the country’s Christian minority has long warned about. Years ago, it would have been unbelievable to think that a person with a clear religious agenda would ever see the halls of power. Now, the pendulum has completed a full revolution and has brought us an Islamist president.
The one explanation that seems to stick out at me, and one that many used to rationalize their choice of Morsy, is that the curiosity of the alternative simply became too irresistible. For years, the Mubarak regime dangled the Muslim Brotherhood before the Egyptian people and the Western world as an example of what the Middle East might look like if they backed any other alternative to the repressive nature of the Mubarak regime. Ahmed Shafiq used this tactic as well to some extent, though he was facing a much more emboldened Muslim Brotherhood that had the backing of a majority in Parliament.
And speaking of Shafiq, I guess I should take this opportunity to acknowledge that I was wrong about him winning the elections. Yes…I, who usually am right about these things, was wrong. I admit it. The reasons I was wrong? Maybe it was me underestimating the people’s desire for change, even if it comes at the expense of some guarantees that would likely have come under a military regime.
But there’s no sense in dwelling on the past. It’s important to move on and try to assess where the country is going now.
A Nightmare Come True for Copts
The day it was announced that Morsy won, I was at a Coptic church and, later that evening, a fundraising dinner hosted by a Coptic church. To say that the mood was tense would be an understatement.
There was, of course, the usual reassurance that Egypt is in the hands of God, and that He would not let anything bad happen to it if it wasn’t for a good reason. But for some, it seems like that line was no longer good enough to calm the nerves of a badly rattled minority. For some, it seemed like everything was over already or, at the very least, it was the beginning of the end.
But just a few days later, Morsy announced that he would be selecting a Christian vice president. As expected, there were some people on my Facebook feed who thought it was a sign that things are going to be alright, and that any worries about Morsy’s evil can be thrown out the window.
Is this really the beginning of an era of cooperation? Or is it some ploy designed to exploit cracks in the ranks of Coptic activists?
By assuring Copts of a high-ranking government post, it gives them a hope that they can continue being a part of the country’s decision making process, perhaps even in ways that are unprecedented. The problem, however, is that Coptic activists are not yet united in their objectives (they know they want to STOP discrimination, but not sure exactly how) and they’re not united behind an individual who they believe can help achieve those objectives. The ensuing power struggle for who should be appointed as VP can only benefit the Brotherhood because it makes them look tolerant in the eyes of the world, and exposes dissent within the ranks of Coptic activists and keeps them occupied from addressing the real agenda that the Brotherhood likely have in mind: to change the Egyptian system to be a much more leaning towards the Islamist side.
This could be mere speculation, since there’s also a chance that Morsy’s move was an attempt to bring with him the support of a disenfranchised minority that was adamantly against him in the elections, and could become a powerful force in cementing his hold on power in the country’s future. Is that the more likely scenario? Possibly. But as a Copt, does the appointment of a Christian vice president solve the persistent problems of discrimination and intolerance that Copts continue to complain of? No…at least, not yet!
A few final words
There’s going to be a lot that happens within the next few years. I’ve made a promise to myself that during this time, I will be closely examining and criticizing Morsy’s every move and decision. I know there are already some websites out there that are trying to keep an eye on Morsy’s time in office, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t contribute.
Let the fun begin!