We live in interesting times, unfortunately.
Not long ago, the terms ‘secular’ and ‘democrat’ seemed conjoined, at least in some capitalist countries.
But not in the Middle East. Not before, and not now.
Today, Middle Eastern secularists are back to old form and busy themselves with:
– Violently rejecting outcomes of elections they lose, as was the case in the 2009 Iranian elections
– Attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government in Turkey
– And now deposing an elected government – the first and only in Egypt’s history – in collusion with remaining elements of the previous regime in Egypt. Some revolution!
Let’s stay with Egypt.
Morsi certainly has mismanaged his opportunity. His biggest failure was perhaps in not being inclusive in how he managed the transition. And he did not see the military coming. Plus, his stance on Syria was awful. Don’t even mention the economy!
Still, he inherited a total mess to sort out with a four-year term through popular elections, and the time to judge his performance was agreed by all who participated in the elections to be 4 years later, not 1 year later.
Who exactly had the authority to make such a decision? Did the votes of over 50% of the Egyptian electorate not count? That’s the wishes of several million people trampled on by a minority.
They have put the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in a situation where they have to either accept total defeat and humiliation by the military (as they have on several occasions in the past since the time of Nasser), or to resist, peacefully or otherwise.
There certainly is no rule of law for them to appeal to.
Worse still, the violent Islamic groups that have shown no trust or belief in democratic methods will feel vindicated. By showing no respect for the rule of law, the Egyptian military is in effect bolstering the cause of the region’s jihadists. And it’s driving members of the Muslim Brotherhood toward greater radicalism, right across the region.
And the implications may go deeper. We are living in a period when a large section of secular actors in the Middle East show a disdain for democratic ideals, and the most democratic Middle Eastern actors appear to be the moderate religious parties. Not to mention their obvious popular appeal through the ballot box.
What will be the future slogan of such secularists? “I’m superior!”?
Will they be trying to divert political discourse in the same racist direction as their American and Israeli counterparts have already? Razzmatazz and ‘god’s-own-country’ and ‘them-muslim-b’stards’, and self-obsessed exceptionalism?
Without the requisite moral fibre, what will become of the region’s secularists?