Late last weekend, Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi fired the country’s defense minister and army chief of staff, two top military officials that halted democratic progress in a blatant attempt to make Egypt a military dictatorship.
Morsi’s move proves vital during a shaky transition time for Egypt, as civilians’ hopes for democracy and peace falter. Many of them feared that Morsi would not be able to take the decisive action necessary to promote democracy. His inability to reconvene parliament proved that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)--the military government that had dissolved Parliament--still had tremendous power over the country. Morsi’s sacking of the military officials is a strong move at precisely the right time, since it allows him to establish more control over the government’s path. The balances have tipped toward Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and away from the military.
Furthermore, this move gives the Muslim Brotherhood, essentially a political party, increased influence. As a former leader of the group, Morsi’s ideals are extremely similar to the Brotherhood’s. He is its mouthpiece. In fact, the Brotherhood entered Morsi as its party candidate in the June 2012 elections, meaning that success for Morsi can frequently translate into success for the Muslim Brotherhood. In this instance, Morsi’s strong action gave not only himself power, but the Muslim Brotherhood as well.
Firing the officials clears the way for Morsi to craft a new Egyptian government. Removing the military from power is the first step towards the Islamic democracy that Morsi and his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, have advocated for. However, the type of democracy Egyptians can expect is a far cry from the democracy Americans are accustomed to, and is one that may not fit Egypt’s needs. Egypt currently has a large population of Coptic Christians, whose beliefs clash with those of Islam. Coptic Christians could face increased persecution and violence under an Islamic democracy. After years of chaos and confusion, Egypt needs peace, not more fighting. Any theocratic democracy can marginalize religious minorities; an Islamic democracy is no different. Furthermore, several of Morsi’s practices are decidedly undemocratic, such as his restriction of freedom of the press. For example, the police, which is under Morsi’s control, attempted to seize newspapers that criticized Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Government censorship may be commonplace in an Islamic democracy in Egypt.
Although Morsi is taking a stand for his version of democracy, the struggle is not over yet.