08.14.2013 12:41 PM

The carnage in Egypt

As I wrote a few weeks ago – and whether you liked the Muslim Brotherhood or not – they were democratically elected, and then were overthrown in a military coup.

You cannot be selective about democracy.  You are either a democrat, or you are not.

And, as of today and as some of us predicted, blood would be the price.  That blood is on the hands of those in the West – Harper, Obama, et al. – who stood by and said and did nothing.

And people wonder why Muslims (a) are getting increasingly radicalized and (b) why they think democracy is a joke.  The one time – the one time! – they try out democracy, power gets taken from them.

Wonder no more, etc.


  1. Hmm, the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have ‘gotten’ that they acquire power through Democracy, but Liberalism, the values that moderate and need to go hand in glove with democrcay did not receive so much as lip service. The Muslim brotherhood did not have a mandate to entirely re-shape the governing institutions in their own image. That said, the military response pays no heed to the democratic mandate the muslim brotherhood received, even though the military coup was in the name of Liberalism, or the protection of minorities. The real problem with post Mubarak Egypt is the lack of statemanship exhibited by all who hold power there. The military has been ham-handed to put it mildly. The consequences for Egypt, and Egypts neighbours are likely to be pretty serious.

  2. steve says:

    Democratically elected, in most of the world including Canada that’s an oxymoron. The first past the post system is a faux democracy.

    Aside from the spin it looked pretty clear that Morisi was not planning on having a second election on democratic terms. So what do you do in this case? No good solutions but letting a faux democracy entrench itself also has terrible consequences, like we seen daily in Canada for more than six years.

    • Jon Powers says:

      Yes, look at the horrors we have to endure here in Canada, thanks to the terrible consequences of our “faux democracy”. It’s so terrible here. Very comparable to Egypt.

  3. dave says:

    This morn I surfed CBC, BBC, CNN, and RT…there were wide differences in the numbers of casualties reported…must be chaotic…I imagine military wants to get hold of th emessage as quickly as possible…I’m wondering what MB allies and sympathizers, as well as those favourable to democratically elected gvts, might be thinking of doing.

    (Also, I think here of how quickly Hamas, democratically elelcted to a plurality in Palestine, was so quickly disenfranchised by us in the anglo sphere some years ago.)

  4. Ian Howard says:

    I think your completely wrong. Morsi had a choice. He could try to run a government which took the values of all Egyptians into account. Democracy can only survive if the leaders respect fundamental rights which belong to all Egyptians. He chose to push an agenda which would inevitably come into conflict with the army and probably most Egyptians. He gambled, he lost , Egypt pays the price.
    If you want to believe we bear responsibility for supplying the Egyptian military fine, but at some point Egyptians are going to have to decide what their country will look like not us. The world is fucked it is our nature to cause it to be so and that will not change anytime soon.

    • ottlib says:

      Wow, Mr. Morsi chose to push an agenda that probably most Egyptians disagreed with. That is certainly grounds for a military coup.

      Stephen Harper pursues an agenda that I disagree with and considering he only won the last election with about 39% of the popular vote it would seem that I am not alone in that opinion. Does that mean we should call on the Canadian military to overthrow him?

      Bottom line. In a democracy there is always a winner and a loser. The loser always has to face the fact that they lost, suck it up and work to convince voters that they can be trusted with power again when the next election roles around.

      The losers in Egypt did not do that. They created chaos to convince the military that they needed to intervene to restore order. Mr. Morsi certainly did not help by being politically tone deaf but the situation in that country cannot be placed solely at his feet.

      Then again, all of this is moot. Mr. Kinsella is right. The one time an Islamist Party won free and fair elections in the major Arab speaking Middle Eastern country it was overthrown and essentially banned from politics in less than a year. The niceties of democracy that we are so enthusiastically debating here will be lost on Islamists in the rest of the Middle East. They will only see that freely elected Islamist Party was overthrown and conclude that the peaceful democratic way of gaining power is a joke.

  5. Philippe says:

    Now there will be hell unleashed. Bombs, assassinations, torture- possibly civil war. All parties share blame- Morsi for attempting dictatorship, but more so the Egyptian Army for usurping democracy.

  6. MoS says:

    A few years ago, Gwynne Dyer wrote a piece about the troubled path democracy would take in the Middle East. He predicted that democracy would be dominated by Islamists initially precisely because, in the eyes of the Arab Street, it was the Islamists who stood in defiance to the brutal dictators that we in the West propped up for decades. Mubarak, after all, was “our guy” until the Egyptian people rose against him. There is a supposedly secular opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, El Baradei’s crew, but it’s not at all clear that they aren’t ready proxies for a return to military rule.

    It would be great if revolutions were truly one-act plays but history shows that’s rarely the case. More revolutions parallel the French or Russian experience than the American. As for the bloodshed, it’s still at levels that are really minor.

    • Ian Howard says:

      Moubarak was hardly our guy he was just the least objectionable of many objectionable alternatives. Ask the coptic christians who they preferred?

    • james Smith says:

      Just a historical tid-bit. The American Revolution’s aftermath was not so benevolent as the winners have more or less convinced history. I don’t just mean the Loyalists either. Read Howard Zin’s A PEOPLES HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. It took at least five or six wars on American soil, and others abroad for us to arrive at the present situation.

  7. Ian Howard says:

    Not because of his assault on democracy but because as a neighbor he had the unpleasant habit of invading.

  8. brucethepainter says:

    Sorry, it’s not a democracy when women and foreigners cant walk the streets at night for fear of abduction by government forces.

    Even Hitler came to power by legal, democratic means.

    Its dangerously to say that because they had a plurality of votes, the MB is beyond reproach.

  9. Brammer says:

    Hamas was democratically elected too, but it didn’t work out too well either.

    Is it democracy when people vote, or is it democracy only when the results are acceptable to the West?

    • Ian Howard says:

      With apologies to Justice Potter and his clerk, like pornography I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I know it when I see it. Egypt wasn’t it under Morsi.

  10. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Agreed. Morsi was duly elected. His responsibility was to serve out his term. The army preferred using internal dissent as a fig leaf and pretext.

    To my mind, the Army is no longer seen as a respected ally and protector of national interests. Rather, it upholds specific interests that work to the military’s advantage.

    You only move against a democrat when he renonces elections or refuses to leave office. Otherwise, it’s his call along with that of Parliament.

  11. !o! says:

    “That blood is on the hands of those in the West – Harper, Obama, et al. – who stood by and said and did nothing.”

    I’d say it’s substantially worse than ‘standing by’

    “The U.S. has so far refused to freeze nearly $1.3 billion in American military aid for Egypt’s generals”

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      I would say the U.S. has screwed itself either way. If one parses what the American ambassador was saying, she was not keen on potential army action. I suspect she reflected the mindset at State. Contrast that with the view at Defense…

      I suspect the generals were talking. A gentle word of tacit encouragement has been known to go a long way.

  12. Hey Warren I really enjoy most of your articles and have a lot of respect for you as I have been following your work since Web of Hate. This post I don’t agree with, let me explain. The MB rigged the elections that is not an assumption, as I saw myself with my own eyes. I was there during that time. They were bribing the poor in the slums everywhere to cast votes for Morsi. I also wouldn’t call this a coup, when 33 million people show up to challenge the current government, nearly half the population of the entire country it can’t be a coup. Further the real leaders, have and always will be the head of the Al-Azhar Islamic institute, the Coptic Pope and the army. They agree on the roadmap and are supporting a united Egypt, these protestors are in conflict with that notion. Egypt is a deeply religious country and their has been much separation, the day that these three people stood on stage and announced the roadmap was the real day for change.

    Remember the MB government changed the constitution to start the path of total control, eliminate democracy and to begin the transition to enforce Sharia Law. Thats what happened, if all of the sudden the same thing was to happen here I guarantee an uprising would evolve. They even canceled mothers day because it wasn’t a muslim holiday, there simply crazy and I for one am glad that they were pulled from power… Egyptians everywhere were saying “Mabrouk”, which means congratulations. This is hard for us here in North America to understand as Egypt is a very very corrupt country. The people are wonderful honestly, but the government for decades and decades have been abusing power. You have to bribe everyone from police, the permits guy, to the guy at the cell phone shop. As well, as a young person there the opportunities are little and the separation between rich and poor is dramatic.

    Egyptians are sick of being under a bias and corrupt government which was the point of the first revolution. This is a byproduct of that same revolution, Egypt is incredibly corrupt and the people there want a little more of what we have here. Liberty, freedom and security. After all the effort put in to this date there is no way that anyone will back down until they get it. I am proud of the people there for it. Anyways thanks for the post, I am glad people are talking about it especially someone with your prominence. I would love to have the opportunity to talk to you more on the topic. I also think you just inspired my next article.

    • Warren says:

      Thanks for this. Much appreciated!

    • !o! says:

      I agree with some of what you say, but “33 million show up to challenge the current government” ….? More than a million and a half won’t even fit into Tahrir square. Egypt has 89 million people, subtracting infants, elderly, the infirm, prisoners, this suggests that at least half the population was in the street? Yet the country continued to function? Contrary to 2011 when substantially less than 33 million people were demonstrating and the country shut down?

      Morsi was unpopular, his policies were not ideal, but this massive support for a coup is a fantasy.

      Isn’t it a little convenient? The military back in control, continuing to receive US military aid, the democratic experiment and all the accompanying unpleasantness done with… Meanwhile we don’t even hear from the democratically elected government.

      • I understand why you would think that and frankly it does sound outrageous but it was reported in many places, it was the largest protest in human history.


        Primarily Egypt has 50% of the population existing as young adults, its part of the reason for the tension in the first place. No one can find work and the corruption is wide spread. Also something many people don’t realize is the military is an industry in Egypt, many people don’t realize that. They manufacture products and employ a major percentage of the population there. It is not a typical military as we know it here in North America. That being said, of course the want is that there be a democratic government there. The Muslim Brotherhood is just not going to allow that to happen.

        An update these same protestors burned 40 churches to the ground yesterday, why? because that is part of the brotherhood’s main agenda. This is a common tactic that the Egyptian people are well aware of where the evil doers create a diversion and focus their energies on the real agenda. The protestors even called a Jihad against all Copts/Christians in Egypt at the point when Morsi was removed, many act as foot soldiers for MB which to date was always considered a terror group. They tried for many years to murder Mubarak and Sadat before him, hence they were mostly arrested and pushed underground.


        That is certainly not a move of a democratic party, to invite terror and suffering to its own people. That is where the “newly elected” government was headed. No one was reporting on things like how Morsi was pushing for a Sharia state and dividing a country in factions, not to mention decreeing he would have infallible power which is why people ousted him…our perspective here is completely skewed. Also he fact that many of these protestors are the released inmates from the prison who were wrangled during Mubarak’s ousting. This is not a cut and dry scenario.

        Its a very complex situation but I know whole heartedly the union of head of the Al-Azhar Islamic institute and the Coptic Pope to back the army was a sign of unity. That is what should have been reported and been a focus of media. It is something that we have not seen to date and is the essence of hope for the entire region.

        • Nadia Elkharadly says:

          While I didn’t agree with Warren’s initial post, the original post here and Michael’s subsequent supporting evidence is the definite truth. I’m egyptian (1st generation Canadian of Egyptian immigrant parents). i have family there and my parents keep close tabs on the situation. What is reported in North American media is grossly narrowminded and completely false most of the time. Democracy isn’t achieved by bribing the starving in the streets. There is no way the MB would have allowed an election in 4 (or however many) years time. they’ve been biding their time for nearly a century and saw their chance at power and TOOK it, they did not earn or achieve it. the demonstrations represent the will of Egyptians in large majority. While it is tragic that it’s devolved to what it is today, it’s insulting to call what happened a coup, and it’s insulting to call what the MB and Morsi attempted “democracy”. i just hope and hope and hope some more that peace and true democracy will be achieved so that my family there stays safe and happy,and so that I can go see them once again.

  13. Evan says:

    Exactly right. Hitler was voted into power by democratic means. Would love to know how to square that circle with the argument press Ted above that a democrat must always uphold a democratic vote.

  14. Mulletaur says:

    Morsi granted himself dictatorial powers by decree in November 2012. Since taking power, he has, along with the Muslim Brotherhood, engaged in the sort of consolidation of power that anybody who ever studied communist takeovers which started as democratic elections would easily recognize. Morsi was ‘elected’ by a 3.4% margin in an election full of irregularities. I don’t like the military takeover, but Morsi lost democratic legitimacy when he tried to make himself the new Pharoah.

  15. Roger says:

    But once the Muslim Brotherhood are democratically elected, they ban and destroy democratic institutions because radical Islam cannot co-exist with democracy and pluralism.

    If a majority of Egyptians prefer a theocratic state and no more democracy, is that the end result of a democratic election? Democracy seems self-defeating and conflict inevitable follows as democratic people resist the abolishment of democracy.

    Wonder if the Muslim Brotherhood is covertly lurking in Canada, ya think?

  16. Mohammed Irfan says:

    Since the first Fitna (Islamic civil war, 656-661), Arab factions have been at each other’s throats ever since. If Obama and Harper and every other non-Arab on the planet was somehow to vanish tonight, these internecine struggles would not slow down; they would in all likelihood intensify as factions realized the whole earth was now theirs.

    As to the revolutionaries: put yourself in their shoes. If a group of deranged religious fanatics wanted to impose the circumcision on your daughters (the removal of the clitoris) what sane person wouldn’t join the resistance? Hitler’s Third Reich and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe were de jure democracies. They were de facto tyrannies that ruled by societal Stockholm syndrome via terror (is there a greater terror than having one’s sexual organs cut off? imagine your penis being removed! willing to submit to the democratic will?)

    Whether Liberal Arabs or Marxist Arabs or Democratic Arabs, Arabs first and always – the ideologies come and go like the weapons. This is something Westerners never understand – democracy is as much respected as a Greek invention as the Kalashnikov is as a Russian or Marxism a German – merely an imported tool, a weapon in the service of one’s Jihad.

    • dave says:

      Well, I am just reading a bio of Peter the Great, and I am into the wars with Chas of Sweden and assorted other wars going on at that time in Europe. Europe has always had its wars, and tore itself apart with civil war that went on for almost the first half of the 20th Century, sucking in us and USA and affecting the wars in China, both civil and resistance to Japan. India had its moments in late 1940’s and has had flare ups since. In Central Africa there has been a horrendous conflict going on for some years now. South and Central America have had their wars, and you would be hard pressed to find two back to back years since 1776 that the US military has not been attacking somebody or other. So, Arab factions you mention are in keeping with the rest of us.Any of us, anywhere on the planet can come up with a cause, and we do.

      From this in Egypt, I find the reports of churches torched a bad sign. The MB, and its allies throughout the Middle East, win or lose in this one, are going to be looking for scapegoats.

    • Great post and poignant.

  17. Danny says:

    I agree with everything you say, except the “The One time” comment. In 1991 Algeria was about to elect a Muslim party to rule their country, but the western backed military stepped in and cancelled the elections. That ended in civil war.
    The West supported the military. We really do suck sometimes, and it is no wonder most muslims think democracy is a sham.

    • Ian Howard says:

      Democracy must be based on secular notions. When you write a social contract all relevant parties must be at the table . If the arbiter of human rights is consulted by referring to a fantasy work dating from before the magna carta is it any surprise democracy is DOA in Egypt.

      • Danny says:

        I don’t really think so. Have you been to Texas? The Baptists run it. Utah, the Mormons run it. Italy, the Catholics run it.Brazil, Catholics. Mexico, Catholics. In Ireland the Catholics and the Protestants fight over who should run it. If you don’t attend church regularly just about anywhere you will not get elected.
        We , the west, need to get over this conceit that we are secular and recognize just maybe, somewhere in the world, the Muslims should be allowed to run it.

  18. Ian Welsh says:

    One time? When Hamas was elected (fairly, because the US insisted on elections over Israel’s objections), they didn’t get to stay in power long.

    But I agree with your basic point, and have said so at length.

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