Force of Habit
Reader comment on item: Better Dictators than Elected Islamists
Submitted by Michael (Egypt), Dec 11, 2012 at 15:59
The controversy over which is better, Islamists or dictators is a false premise from the word go. It overlooks the simple fact that Islamists are au fond dictators. The right question should be: which is better, an Islamist dictator or a secular one?
It does not take a political scientist to answer this one.
Ever since Morsi took power five months ago, we have not seen but a more aggressive form of dictatorship sponsored by Heavens. Many Egyptians think of Mubarak's days as days of milk and honey in comparison with today. Not only have the Muslim Brotherhood overtaken all state institutions and consolidated their power in the multiple domains of Egyptian life, they have paid little to no attention to the interest and prosperity of the people that brought them to power, and they met opposition with extreme cruelty almost not seen in the days of Mubarak – at least in public. Many strict secular pundits had warned against that before Morsi hit office, but people paid them little regard.
In contrast, some distinguished figures had stood vehemently against any attempt to bring the old regime back (the former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq) and even canvassed for the MB's "spare tire" candidate. Now, when you listen to a renowned political scientist bemoaning the "divergence" of the MB's trajectory from what was supposed to be (instead of admitting his mistake of ever putting his trust in them), you get a better idea how deep the problem goes. It is not only about the West.
The Muslim Brotherhood now typically owns Egypt. Its members have insinuated their way into every sort of state institution or agency. They have taken over the national newspapers, the television, most of the syndicates and guilds, most of the ministries, and to a lesser extent the police and the army. Notwithstanding that their infiltration may not have been welcomed, they are there now, and this is all that matters, for now.
Morsi has already cut back on subsidies on butane gas and electricity, and his new tax hike will include an increase of 10% on steel rebars, 5% on cooking oil, 15-18% on mobile-phone calls, 50-150% on shisha, 100-200% on alcoholic beverages, and LE1.50 per pack on cigarettes. All these steps are part of the proposed plan to the IMF in order for Egypt (in better terms, Morsi and his comrades) to be eligible for the $4.8 billion loan. The MB ostensibly seeks to reduce public deficit through increasing state revenues.
The recent protests against the [Non-] Constitutional Declaration give evidence how much MB members have succeeded in imposing their standards and agenda on the street, and how far they are ready to go in the future. In addition to the still ongoing siege of the High Constitutional Court by Morsi's vigilantes and bullies, 9 people were killed in the ensuing clashes and hundreds were beaten, tortured, and incarcerated. Official records say that at least half of the casualties were among MB's youth, but the vast majority of those who were clubbed, tortured, and wronged were among the anti-Morsi protestors. The striking thing was not how cruel and inhuman these practices were, but how phlegmatic and stolid Egyptians (first and foremost, media and politicians) were at receiving them. Directly after Morsi rescinded his rash Declaration, by issuing a new, watered-down one, the upheaval spontaneously began to calm down. No one speaks of the dead and the tortured ones anymore, as if it never happened. Is it fear, or is it that Egyptians have become used to violence? It is no easy question to answer.
But at all events, bit by bit the Muslim Brotherhood is becoming an inescapable fact by the force of habit. Its members are gaining power, momentum, and confidence. The longer they stay in power the less likely they will ever be eased out.
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