The heads of the security system were dismissed because of the public rage that arose as a result of the murder of the Egyptian soldiers, and the sense of the public that the military did not act appropriately to safeguard the lives of the soldiers. Mursi exploited this mood to the fullest and enhanced his status as president by dismissing the almost omnipotent military chiefs. It is important to note that this public rage was also exploited by the media, because in dealing with the most recent attack, they are at Mursi’s service in all matters. He is presented as the ideal man, with clean hands and a pure heart, the redeemer of Egypt, the right man in the right place, the man that Egypt has awaited for so many years. On the other hand, journalists and broadcasters who have dared to criticize him were silenced and arrested, and charges were brought against them for spreading lies. It seems that the Egyptian media, which, during the last year, enjoyed great freedom after sixty years of military rule, were again impressed into serving the regime, but this time for the benefit of civil rule . Anyone who listens today to Egyptian broadcast stations gets the impression that a heavy hand is controlling them and that they broadcast only whatever President Mursi expects them to broadcast.
However, in the international media, which are not under the supervision of the Muslim Brotherhood, many Egyptians express their concern over Mursi’s style of rule: did the Egyptian people overthrow a secular dictator, in order to have a religious one? This question is especially sharp in light of the fact that the revolution originally was not religious, but rather civil, because the youth of Tahrir Square who overthrew Mubarak in January-February 2011 were secular, liberal and freedom seekers, while the Muslim Brotherhood rode the wave of revolution in a later phase, taking advantage of it in order to take over the state. The youth of the revolution hear the Egyptian broadcast stations today and understand that their sacrifice – including fatalities, wounded and severe humiliation – was in vain, because religious rule was the last thing they would have wished for.
On the other hand, Mursi is also severely criticized by the Salafis, who have great strength among the population, having won a quarter of the parliamentary seats. They complain about Mursi, mainly in their sermons in the mosques, that he does not intend to implement Sharia law as the law of the land, and their fixed question is: “Why did you deserve to come into power?” The question hints at the possibility that the Brotherhood is nothing but bloodthirsty pursuers of power and authority, and that they really have no intention to impose Islamic law on the state. This accusation is very disturbing to Mursi and his associates, because it is intended to undermine the religious legitimacy of his regime.
Criticism from a third side comes from the direction of the Christian Copts, who compose about twenty percent of the citizens of Egypt. Since Mursi was elected as president they feel increasingly threatened by Muslims, and bloody confrontations occur more and more often between these two groups. As a result of this, many Copts seek desperately for a way to emigrate from Egypt, and this fact increases the Muslim rage against them, because although emigration will hopefully solve the problem of the Copts, the Muslims will remain to wallow in the mire of the chronic problems that Egypt suffers from.
The Peace Agreement With Israel
Many in Israel and in the world are very disturbed by the possibility that Mursi will sacrifice the peace agreement with Israel on the altar of building his own and his regime’s legitimacy. Won’t the person who succeeded in removing the head of the Supreme Military Council, also be able to remove the Israeli ambassador? This could happen if Israeli attacks Gaza or Sinai, but even then, Egypt will keep the proper level of diplomatic representation, by means of maintaining a consulate, an acting Israeli Embassy or by placing an Israeli representative within the framework of another embassy, for example Switzerland.
Cancelling the peace agreement could cause severe damage to the already shaky Egyptian economy, because the atmosphere of war would chase away the tourists and investors, and might increase the price of insurance for the ships that pass through the Suez Canal, thus increasing the motivation of the carriers to find ways around the Suez Canal. One possibility is to transfer oil by way of the Eilat-Ahskelon pipeline, which will bring additional income to Israel.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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