After the initial euphoria of the Arab revolutions, my more cynical peers would often ask me if it had been worth it. Wouldn't it have been better, they question, if all the turmoil and violence had been avoided?
The answer is no. The salient reason being that what was gained was vastly more significant than any of the obstacle now being presented. And I don’t only mean the downfall of despots, indeed what was immeasurably more important was the sense of empowerment that vibrated from one Arab city to another. The Arab world would no longer resign against tyranny as though it were inevitable.
Mohamed Morsi seems to have already forgotten that lesson. In his short tenure as president, he has already taken steps to suppress the same political impulses that brought him to power. All the while, he has done little to distinguish much of his foreign and domestic policy from Mubarak’s.
The latest cataclysm began last Friday when hundreds of Morsi opponents protested in Cairo at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters. The protest was organized in response to attacks by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, who had violently clashed with anti-government protesters a week earlier.
The demonstrations against the Islamic ruling party were met with tear gas from security forces inside the party headquarter. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood surrounded the headquarters in an attempt to prevent attacks against the building. A massive clash ensued between protesters and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Over 40 people were reportedly injured including leftist leader Khalid Ali who had run for presidency against Morsi. Demonstrators also attacked Muslim Brotherhood offices in Alexandria, Mansoura, and other cities indicating the continued increase of frustration toward Morsi and his Islamic party.
Instead of heeding the warning signs, Morsi indicated Sunday that he might be planning to take steps to crackdown on anti-government protesters. The statements appear to be directed at oppositional demonstrator and not at protesters loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood that held a rally outside television station buildings on Sunday. Supporters of the Brotherhood demonstrated against what they perceive as being an anti-Brotherhood bias in the media.
“If I am forced to do what is required to protect this nation, then I will do it. And I fear that I might be on the verge of doing it," Morsi stated on his Twitter account.
The growing resentment towards Morsi will force him, and the Brotherhood, to either listen to the demands of the people or follow Mubarak into political exile. If Morsi opts to suppress dissident voices instead of listening to them, he will be faced with even larger demonstrations. The only way to address the protesters is to address their concerns. The Egypt that permits its leaders to dictate agenda with impunity no longer exists. Egyptians are more than conscious of the fact that they possess the ability to rid themselves of political parties that do not reflect their will. Mohamed Morsi may believe he has enough support to squash oppositional forces in the country. But it will be precisely the same moment he attempts to do so that will concurrently guarantee his own overthrow.