It Isn’t Democracy When You Can’t Vote For The Opposition

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The Muslim Brotherhood has been officially disbanded in Egypt. While this doesn’t come as a surprise to me, it heralds an important change in the fledgling Egyptian democracy.

The Brotherhood first sought formal recognition only after their former member Mohamed Morsi had been elected president, in Egypt’s first democratic elections. As a group, they have existed underground since the 1920’s but went even deeper after the military revolution of 1952 that toppled British puppet King Farouk. After the most recent revolution in 2011, that toppled Hosni Mubarak, they re-emerged stronger than ever and sought to join the new Egypt as a legitimate organization, taking form politically as the Freedom & Justice Party.

Now, they have once again been told to operate outside the fold. The ruling to disband the Brotherhood by no means will destroy them. This is the existence they are most accustomed to. They struggled when it came to ruling Egypt, but as dissidents they know their role.

It is a real shame for Egypt that the Brotherhood can no longer be reconciled with through diplomacy and negotiations. It is also a shame that the new Egypt is not a place of political tolerance. Democracy isn’t democracy when you can no longer vote for the opposition. Sweeping them under the rug and out of government won’t save Egypt. Stifled dissent and the removal of opposition is what led to the January 2011 revolution. The Egyptian people were sick of being controlled by corrupt officials who served only their own interests. Whose interests are being served now?

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It was the easy choice for the interim government to force the Brotherhood into the role of bad guy, labelling them all terrorists. Some have committed acts of terror, but if we were to look for motive, we wouldn’t have to look much further than the June 30th popular uprising/coup that landed the Brotherhood’s man and Egypt’s president in military custody. But you could look further. You could look to the 1,000 Brotherhood supporters who have been slaughtered since then by the heavy-handed police. You could remember August 14th, when hundreds were killed at morning prayers outside the now infamous Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.

Moving forward, Egypt has to learn to reconcile its people. For a country that has gone through multiple revolutions and coups over the last century, you’d think they would learn that when you create a hierarchy of political legitimacy and force opposing views out through death and defamation, it will always come back to haunt you.

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