Egypt and the Iranian Diaspora

Democracy should apply to all potential future leaders of Iran.

Recent events in Egypt should make some members of the Iranian diaspora ask themselves what kind of democracy they want for Iran.

Based on the positive and in some cases ecstatic reaction of some members of the Iranian diaspora community to the toppling of Morsi in Egypt, I am not sure that they really understand what real democracy is. Or perhaps they do but they want it applied as long as it serves the interests of the political party which they support.

Here is a scenario – How would you react if:

After a free and fair elections in Iran, Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah is elected. After a year in power, instead of developing the economy he ruins it through corruption, inexperience and mismanagement. He also introduces some secular laws which anger religious Iranians.

Would you support his overthrow by the army after massive demonstrations headed by religious figures and politicians?

Would you find it within the rules and concept of democracy for the Iranian army to give him a 48 hour ultimatum?

Would you think it would be democratic for the army then to overthrow and arrest him and then replace him with a religious candidate?

If yes, then the Iran which you want is not going to be a democratic Iran.

In fact under such a scenario why waste money on democratic elections?

Why not just see which political side can draw the biggest crowds into its demonstrations plus the support of the army and then just let them rule the country until such times that another political party gets the army and a bigger crowd into the streets?

Democracy means a democratically elected leader, however repulsive (which Morsi was) who is brought to office by vote can only be removed by vote.

And for those of us who want democracy in Iran, we should get used to the idea that this will mean that sometime, or somewhere along the line, there could be rulers elected by the people of Iran who will not be to our taste.

The fact that we and the armed forces don’t like him does not give the right for us to topple him with force.

No crisis should be wasted. The current crisis in Egypt should be used by some members of the Iranian diaspora to ask themselves whether they want real democracy for Iran.

Egypt: The Mistake of Toppling Morsi

If the Egyptian military topples President Mohamed Morsi, it could be one of the biggest mistakes made in Egypt’s post 2011 revolution history.  

There is no doubt Morsi made many mistakes as president. His government mismanaged the economy. Most ominously, Morsi betrayed the foundations of Egypt’s newly formed democracy when he undemocratically granted himself additional power. 

We saw a clear example of this last year. According to an article on the 22nd of November in the New York Times:

With a constitutional assembly on the brink of collapse and protesters battling the police in the streets over the slow pace of change, President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree on Thursday granting himself broad powers above any court as the guardian of Egypt’s revolution, and used his new authority to order the retrial of Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi sounds pretty bad. So why would the Egyptian army toppling him be a mistake?

Professor Daniel Brumberg, my friend and colleague, has impressive academic credentials. He succinctly explained why toppling Morsi would be a mistake on his Facebook page:

If you want to once and for all discredit Authoritarian Islamism, then defeat it at the polls. A military intervention, even one backed by the street, will never achieve the lasting impact of an electoral defeat, and will always leave the impression that those backing the intervention fear that they cannot win an election. Beware the boomerang!

I agree with Dan. Morsi is bad, but toppling him by force—especially with a military coup d’état—could have serious repercussions in Egypt and perhaps the region for decades to come.

Lets not forget that Morsi is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. If they are driven from power through the barrel of the gun instead of through votes at the ballot box, then they could turn to the gun to try to reclaim their lost position. They could adopt the slogan “What was taken away from us by force can only be returned to us by force.”

A surge of political violence in Egypt—the largest state in the Arab World—could have a ripple effect across the region, driving Islamists away from the democratic political process. The result could create increased Islamic radicalization in the Middle East.

Also, we all want democracy for Egypt, don’t we? So since when toppling democratically elected leaders by force is democratic?

We must also ask the question: would toppling Morsi by force turn Egypt of 2013 into Algeria of 1992 ?

I am not an Egypt expert. There are people such as Brian Whitaker and my colleague Nervana Mahmoud who know Egypt far better than me.  But all I can say is that in my opinion you can’t fix what is a democratic issue through the barrel of the gun. Morsi was elected. He was brought to power through the ballot box, and he must be removed the same way, if stable democracy is what we want.