The State of Democracy in Egypt

Earlier on the day, the West received news that Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to death. After a very lengthy trial, where it seemed the charade was put on entirely to postpone the death sentence, because of pressure from human rights groups, there seems to be no turning back from this decision for the Egyptian court. Not only is this gross misconduct in the human rights book, this kind of a sentence, without the charged having allocated any judge, is deeply wrong.

In a Cairo court on Saturday, Morsi was allocated this verdict, for breaking out of jail, but not for his charges of espionage. It is already well known, that Morsi broke out of prison during an uprising against a corrupted authoritarian government. There was a squashing of human rights under that government, so if a trial was to be put on for defying the rules set out by the regime back then, there should be a greater understanding of how it can resonate around Egypt, it’s neighbours and the West.

There has been an unprecedented government crackdown since his overthrow in July 2013, on the Muslim brotherhood, resulting in the death of hundreds of people and imprisonment of thousands more. Why such a harsh sentence for escaping jail, when he was serving a 20-year term for charges allegedly linked to the killing of protesters outside a Cairo presidential palace? The move has been criticised by Human Rights Watch and Turkey, citing that despite Egypt turning into ancient Egypt, the West continues to be blind to the injustice in implementing capital punishment against a popularly elected President.

In another separate case, Morsi and a few fellow defendants were accused of conspiring with foreign powers to destabilise Egypt. It is funny what this term ‘foreign powers’ is indicating in politics because the authoritarian government has no understanding of democracy at all: is it implying the West or the alleged links with the Palestinian militant group, Hamas? The state of democracy is one of “in absolute pieces” because that is precisely what the government wants: to rule by proxy, whether or not the public agrees with it, whether or not the West is alarmed by the lack of democracy in Egypt.

When we are concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, we are worried that nuclear power should not go beyond the countries that it has already been allocated to, mainly countries in the first world. We are also worried about how because Iran is in the Middle East, it has since early 1900s been subjected to repeated accounts of destabilisation by authoritarian regimes. So, it is hard to imagine that it won’t happen again, that this power won’t be abused by wrong hands again.

We cannot be sorry enough for America’s role in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but we can certainly find the courage in us to state that such an incident should never happen again; I don’t think linguistic angles in naming one of the bombs “Fat Boy” (rumoured to be based on an image of Winston Churchill?) can do much for you in history, when there are always people there to defend Great Britain’s record in catastrophic incidents.

This concern, is not non-existent for Egypt. Mohamed Morsi was handed down capital punishment for attempting to overthrow the state. But the state is currently busy looting Egypt, despite the West’s involvement there for foreign policy, and dismantling democracy. How can you expect the West to be sure that political progress and democracy will prevail in Egypt, post this decision? We cannot be certain, at all and we are not pleased with how this trial has been conducted, in the face of constantly abusing human rights.

Furthermore, imagining state politics, in the future with the authoritarian government continuing to defy all kinds of political conduct, that pertains to maintaining democracy, as the West always, likes to see, is deeply troubling. In other matters, religious authorities in Egypt are expected to give their opinion on the punishment before it is carried out, but there isn’t much hope there because previously several of them were connected in the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi’s government.

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