Sunday, 18 August 2013

Where are the Egyptian liberals?

The Free Egyptians Party (member of Liberal International) has not published much in English since late last year if its Facebook page is anything to go by (the main page, mostly Arabic, is more up-to-date). However, its founder, billionaire Naguib Sawiris has publicly committed himself to a post-Morsi Egypt. One wonders whether his faith in the economic future of the nation has been shaken by the increasing strength of the Muslim Brotherhood's demonstrations and the disproportionate violence of the army's counter-measures. Tourism, one of Egypt's major earners, has virtually shrunk to nothing and there must be doubts about international investment (other than the Salafists' contribution to the military machine) in the current uncertainty. There is a danger of religious polarisation.

It seems to me that both the Brotherhood and the Egyptian army have failed to move with the times. Morsi clearly thought that having achieved power through election, he could rule like Mubarak, as Sadat did before him, manipulating the nation's constitution as necessary to secure absolute rule for the Brotherhood. The army seems to want to reverse everything achieved since the Tahrir Square riots. The people will surely not stand for either position, having glimpsed what democracy can look like. Nor is it to the long-term benefit of the army to be in a state of continuous conflict, given their own commercial interests. Syria must be a warning to them: Bashar al-Assad has maintained power - just - through repression, but the economy has collapsed around him.

Legality must be restored in the form of Morsi. This should persuade the bulk of the demonstrators mobilised by the Brotherhood to return to their homes. Morsi in turn must recognise that he cannot impose an Islamist constitution on a nation which does not want it. He must agree to a more liberal constitution, then step down to make way for new elections.

Later: Baroness Deech's comment should also be read. I would suggest that the international organisations she refers to already include the European Union and Liberal International.


Assem Memon said...

The Free Egyptians Party uses a different facebook page than the one you linked

Frank H Little said...

Many thanks.