The first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a coup on July 3. Egypt is now in chaos, and no one knows what direction the country will move forward in. After nearly three weeks of protests following the coup, over 50 people have died in the bloodshed, most of them Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Morsi, who was elected by a narrow margin in June 2012, has since been hidden from the public since he was ejected from power.
Brotherhood activists have said: “We have examples of Algeria and Syria in our minds. We don’t want it to become a civil war. If we take up arms it might become one. This is a religious belief."
But will the country rupture into a civil war similar to that of Syria? Hardly anyone thinks so. The country has no factions in ethnicity and religion reminiscent of the demographic issues present in Sryia. In Syria, the ruling Alawite minority has an advantage over Kurds, Sunnis, Christians, and Druze.
In Egypt, most of the people identify themselves as Egyptian Arabs. Most people live in Cairo or Alexandria, and belong to the same caste economically. There is little difference between the Sunnis and the Christian Copts. Many of the Sunnis are radicalized, but most of them are more liberal and are in opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood. They have seen that both Morsi and Mubarak are corrupt, and would like to distance themselves from both movements. The Muslim Brotherhood would have to gather a large support to start a civil war, but frankly, it will be just protests in the upcoming months.
A coalition of Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood said they would press ahead with their own rallies on Friday, while Tamarod (a new grassroots movement in opposition to Morsi) called on supporters to take the streets again in support of the army.
There are multiple problems in Egyptian society at the moment. There is a demographic boom, as the median age is 24. This is coupled by the fact that unemployment soars at 20%, and most people live on $2 a day.
There is also a rift of tensions between secular parties, who align themselves with the military and the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. However, most of the Egyptian laymen wants to distance themselves from both groups- as they are equally corrupt- and calls for democracy. But in reality, their concept of democracy is very different from the one we are used in the West. And to add to that, most Egyptians do not know what they want when they refer to democracy.
Egypt’s road in the short term is clear: the military will prop up those who it feels comfortable leading the country and that is supported by the United States and Israel. They will also have the upper hand in the next couple months or so. Ahmed Shafik, who has lost the last election, may gather more support and lead the country. In that sense, we could see Egypt going back to nepotism and despotism akin to Mubarak leading the country.