An unwise move

December 26, 2013 - 6:38:16 am
The news from Egypt has been so continuously disheartening that it’s difficult to see how this nation will emerge from its current chaos. Such has been the frequency of politically cataclysmic developments that even their news value has decreased, while the country is on a downward spiral of violence and repression.

The latest news is the declaration of the military-backed interim government that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group, thus criminalising all its activities, its financing and even membership to the group. The move doesn’t come as a surprise in the current political scenario, but that doesn’t dilute the huge consequences of the military government’s decision. The Brotherhood has huge influence and hundreds of thousands of supporters across Egypt, which was evident in the election of Mohammed Morsi as president earlier through the ballot, and banning such an organisation can only help worsen the crisis in the country than solve it.

The problem with Egypt is that its revolution has been sabotaged by the very forces it sought to displace. This has been possible due to the abject failure of anti-Mubarak forces to forge unity. The hostility between parties is so deep-rooted that each side is working for the annihilation, not defeat, of the other side. The path to peace and democracy comes through reconciliation and compromise, not aggression, hostility and ban. The military-backed government should have chosen the democratic path to defeat the Brotherhood and this hasty decision shows its fear and paranoia, which will only lead to relentless violence because Brotherhood, re-energised after Mubarak’s ouster, has the resources to sow chaos if it wants.

It’s not only the Islamists which the military government is targeting. Last week, the army stormed the offices of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, a prominent human rights organisation, which is a sign of the generals’ eagerness to root out all dissent.

Egypt needs neither Brotherhood nor the army but democracy.  But this is becoming a distant dream. The old order is getting revived, and officials who were part of this order are being reinstated on a daily bsis. The judiciary is gradually joining the army to give legal validation to its machinations. And those who started the revolution have been pushed to the sidelines. The media too is being stifled. The Committee to Protect Journalists listed Egypt as the ninth-worst offender for jailing journalists this year. In another blow, the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association, an organisation which promotes scholarship on the Middle East and North Africa, expressed huge concern about a “worsening climate for free speech and peaceable assembly” on campuses in Egypt.

Amid all this chaos, there are more questions about Egypt than answers•
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