Egypt: Does the West change the definition of democracy when it comes to Muslims?

Published: August 18, 2013
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What democracy is this that calls for dictatorship? PHOTO: REUTERS

While the Egyptian army is busy massacring Morsi supporters in Egypt, the west and local liberals both have turned mute and silent. Hundreds have been killed and it is feared that the violence will escalate once the Egyptian army resumes its standard operating procedure of ‘find-torture-kill’; something it has mastered for a number of years.

Champions of freedom and democracy, the US and the West, have once again shown their true colours of deceit, deception and hypocrisy as they fully support the Al-Sisi led coup without once thinking of the impact this could have on a ‘democratically elected’ government; not once did they think to denounce the unhealthy military takeover. If this was not enough, the Al-Sisi regime has in fact been applauded and endowed with a generous ‘aid’ package from the US of $1.3 billion and US$5 billion from Saudi Arabia, the strongest ally of the US in the Middle East region, to assert their agreement with the coup.

To understand the double standards of the west, and their very own idea of democracy, all one is required to do is recall the hypocritical western media justifying the American invasion of Iraq; it was about glorifying human rights and democracy all the while highlighting the evils of dictatorship and military rule.

The west was so keen to bless the Iraqis with their version of ‘democracy’ that the killing of millions of Iraqis in the process was simply deemed ‘collateral damage’. I still remember the video footage televised on various news channels showing American soldiers putting down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Iraqi Muslims were shown celebrating the fall of the dictator and the concurrent advent of democracy. The west portrayed itself as the saviour of humanity, ones who strongly believed in the ‘people power’ and ‘change via ballot’ ideal.

Photo: Reuters

However, all those western beliefs took an about turn when Morsi’s government was democratically elected in Egypt. After a consistent struggle of more than 50 years, the Muslim brotherhood attained majority votes and beat the secularists in free-and-fair election. Given the fact that the Muslim brotherhood was treated with iron fists during Mubarak’s era, it was a really big achievement for them. A democratic regime was setup and right-wingers were part of the government. This scenario should have pleased the west, as the government, albeit Islamic, came into power without the use of any weapons or militancy. With the continuous lectures given by the west to the Muslim community to give up arms and become part of the ‘political process’, this was an achievement, even on the part of the west.

Unfortunately, for them, something was still amiss; perhaps they thought this feat was something the Muslim brotherhood would never actually accomplish.

Yet they did, and it was done so democratically.

As a result, the west was quick to corner Morsi’s government from day one. Loyalty to the concept and premise of democracy was suddenly forgotten and the military backed coup was given full support when the Egyptian army threatened to topple Morsi’s regime. After countless protests, bloodshed and finally a coup d’état, the military took over once again- with full support from the west.

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

By providing unconditional support to the secular Egyptian army, the west made it clear that ‘democracy’ in its ‘true’ essence, or ‘their version’ of it, is liberal, secular and has to be void of any Islamic influence. If, on the other hand, an Islamist regime is democratically elected, any action taken by the armed forces of that country to uproot the elected government is welcomed and not categorised as a ‘military coup or take-over’, but in fact just the wish of ‘the people’. The massacre involved, and still taking place, should not be taken seriously as it is part of the ‘transition’ process. On top of that, the military government should be welcomed with financial aid for the ‘betterment of the people’ and the ‘strengthening of democracy’.

What democracy is this that calls for dictatorship?

Photo: AFP

I firmly believe that in current times, this is the most naked, brute and raw expression of the double standards sported by the west towards its Muslim counterparts. Ironically, if now Morsi supporters turn to arms, they will be labelled as terrorists who are challenging the writ of the government, and on this account, any action from the Egyptian army will be endorsed by the west as legal and in the name of tackling terrorism.

The Egyptian army has already committed to holding ‘free and fair’ elections in the near future but how will these elections exist if the majority population voted for the Islamic regime not too long ago? Will their opinions have all changed completely in favour of secularists so fast or will these ‘free and fair’ elections be influenced, dare I say ‘rigged’?

If that is the case, I do believe that the west will welcome the elected government with open arms regardless of the opinion of the people afterwards. The Egyptians will be congratulated on the restoration of democracy and the Muslim brotherhood will once again resume the role of opposition. Any protest against the new secular government will be condemned and once again, the world will become a superficially peaceful place – as per the west’s standard of democracy. Congratulations in advance.

Abdullah Ansari

Abdullah Ansari

An electrical engineer by profession, Abdullah works in the oil and gas industry. His interests include international relations, global politics and debating. He tweets @ChangingTrendz (twitter.com/ChangingTrendz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.