Worst is yet to come in Egypt
News coming from Egypt confirms those who kept on saying “Wait, the worst hasn’t happened yet.”
How many people lost their lives? Everyone has a figure. Some claim several hundred people were murdered. Some claim around 120 people lost their lives. Official figures place death toll in the mid-70s.
Why such a discrepancy in death figures? Perhaps it was because the coup government could not yet achieved full control of some sections of Cairo. Ikhwan has been trying to avoid post-mortem examinations that may provide evidence of death causes, burying the dead in a hurry. The Interior Ministry said fire was not opened on demonstrators, that security forces used only tear gas; Ihkwan claimed people were killed by bullets fired by the security forces.
What’s obvious and dreadful is the sheer reality that those people killed this week will not be the last to lose their lives in Egypt. Ikhwan wants to get back the power the military took from its hands; others say they would not leave Egypt to be dragged into the darkness of fundamentalist Islam. Was it not Winston Churchill who said “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”? Interesting enough Ikhwan has been trying to cling on power in Egypt – and similar movements in the rest of the Muslim territories affected by the “spring” – claiming to be the most democratic and have the largest popular support. Democracy is not of course just something limited to elections and popular support. It is a web of norms, values and institutions. For example, in the absence or limited presence of freedom of expression, press freedom, free judiciary and supremacy of justice no one can talk of the existence of democracy in a country just because elections are being held there. Otherwise Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would not need to invent the “advanced democracy” terminology to describe the awful police- or intelligence-state-like situation Turkey has been pushed into by his government.
Countries which have been suffering under sultans, sheikhs or absolute rulers for such a long period in history should not be expected to move on to perfect democracy overnight. It will take time and unfortunately it will be perhaps very painful to achieve it, but once countries place themselves on the course of democratic progress, sooner or later they will acquire democratic governance. In some way, in the “lands of Islam,” developing a secular understanding of religion is the sine qua non or the prime condition for achieving democracy. Irrespective how fervently Islamist pen slingers might try to oppose it, Islam and democracy are not compatible as long as religion and state are separated like the pre-2002 Turkish example. Since the 2002 ascent to power of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, democracy has been on a gradual retreat in Turkey. One can see that in the “my minister” or “my police” statements inadvertently coming out of the mouth of the absolute ruler of the country.
With his wide-open eyes, the ever-yelling high, bold and bald prime minister of Turkey was yelling at the world for not acting well enough against the Cairo massacre of Ikhwan supporters. He, indeed, was right. The world, knowing what Islamist fundamentalists are, turned a blind eye to the coup in Egypt with the “the best I know is the better beast” mentality.
But, a coup is a coup and people are losing their lives in Egypt. The bad is overthrown. The worse is in power. But, the real worst might be yet to come.