It's been a tumultuous two and a half years for Egyptians. They have witnessed the fall of long-time president, Hosni Mubarak; the rise and fall of an elected president, Mohammed Morsi, and two periods of military authority. All along the way there has been great division in the country with protests and counter-protests filling the streets.
The current military-backed authority has promised a return to democracy, with a new constitution to be approved by referendum and elections to be held next year. However, the authority also has overseen a crackdown against the powerful Muslim Brotherhood that won both the parliamentary and presidential elections last year. Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been killed, thousands more are in jail and scores of the movement's leaders, including Mr. Morsi, are going on trial.
The question that befuddles most people here comes down to this: Is Egypt moving in the right direction?
Atrocities must end
Since the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak it has been difficult to predict in what direction Egypt is heading. For the moment, the weak coalition between democracy advocates and members of Mr. Mubarak’s old circle of interests is holding and seems sincere in wanting to take the country to new elections.
However, it is put to the test over the status of the army. Will the constitution currently being drafted give military courts the power to try civilians? Will the security forces continue to be allowed to erode freedoms in the name of “fighting terrorism?” Last week, a draft law on protests was approved by the cabinet. If signed into law by the President, it will effectively ban demonstrations. Fortunately a large protest in downtown Cairo underscored the people’s rejection of such an idea, and President Adly Mansour has reserved his decision to sign. This is a sign of hope.
However, the unlawful killing and ill-treatment of members of the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be tolerated in a democracy and yet the military and police have committed such atrocities with impunity.
It is alarming that no independent investigations are conducted. Average Egyptians continue to face police brutality. This is largely ignored by Egypt’s media, too busy spreading propaganda for the country’s effective leader, Minister of Defence General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
These issues will come back and hit the government in the face sooner or later.
Mohamed Lotfy is an Egyptian human rights activist.
A country on the right path
Egypt is definitely moving in the right direction.
When we rose up against the Mubarak dictatorship, our demands were clear: bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity.
But the Muslim Brothers seized that revolution and, though elected, put their own Islamist agenda ahead of the people’s wishes. They waged war on the army, the police, the judiciary, Egypt’s culture and the media.
That is what called on the sweeping majority of Egyptians to take to the streets to oust this group that threatened our 7,000-year-old homeland.
Now, the Brothers’ allies, especially the Unites States of America, have made desperate efforts to keep the Morsi regime in power. They do this in the name of “democracy” and respecting the results of “the ballots.”
In the name of the “legitimacy” of the ballots they would make every unlawful act perpetrated by the Brotherhood legal. But besieging the courts, threatening the media and terrifying college students is not a kind of freedom of expression.
Despite the fact the current government is not moving forward very quickly and the army remains in control, I believe Egypt is heading on the right path and will eradicate terrorism and establish a real democracy.
The people that overthrew two presidents in two years have broken the barrier of fear and that is the guarantee of the people’s security.
Farida el-Choubachy is a leftist journalist in Cairo
Curb the military's power
The Egyptian people chose their president in 2012 in a free and fair election that brought Mohammed Morsi to office. Since that moment Dr. Morsi has faced a war to bring him down.
Of course he committed mistakes, but that does not justify what happened on July 3: the military claiming guardianship of the country based on “the people's will;” erasing the ballots cast for president; violating the constitution, and breaking the law?
Yes, millions took to the streets against Dr. Morsi, but millions of others came out supporting him.
It would have been appropriate for the army leadership, the Ministry of the Interior, the judiciary and the media to side with the elected president. But there was an intention to depose him and bring back military rule.
The same people who campaigned for signatures on a petition to remove Dr. Morsi soon adopted a campaign for electing Army head Abdel Fattah el-Sisi! As well, the military authorities closed down the TV channels that opposed the coup d’état, muzzled the media and arrested, or killed, people protesting the takeover.
If Egypt continues to move in this direction of suppressing democracy, how will we ever be able to trust in elections again? How can I trust the security forces that killed my brother? That unfairly arrested and imprisoned my friend?
No. It must stop. Down with the military.
Mostafa Toba is a lawyer at the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance.
Economy is the key
Seif Allah Fahmy
Egypt’s future and the well-being of its people depend on sound economic policies. Unfortunately, the country’s economy has been in free fall since January 2011. The poor economic management had to end.
The way forward is via a sustainable macroeconomic path so that we can secure badly needed international investment.
As well, all Egyptians feel betrayed by past economic policies that didn’t achieve a more equal distribution of income.
Achieving sustainable growth and redistribution of income requires four things. We must spend less on universal subsidies that maintain inefficient industries. We must spend more on education to prepare all Egyptians to be productive and gain more sustainable incomes, and more on badly needed infrastructure that will increase productivity and enable all Egyptians to work. And we must provide a level playing field in investment – no more favouritism.
To achieve these goals Egypt needed to break from its past, and to end the mismanagement of the past two and a half years. It is now pointed in the right direction, but must act decisively to make these needed changes.
Seif Allah Fahmy is an Egyptian businessman and chairman of the Egyptian National Competitiveness Council
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