The Egyptian military forced Islamist president Mohammed Morsi from office Wednesday, following mass public protests against the leadership. Supreme Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour was appointed interim leader Thursday, while Morsi and other leaders within the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested.
Khalid Baheyeldin, an Egyptian who came to Canada 13 years ago and now lives in Waterloo with his family, welcomed the news.
“I voted for Morsi myself but I am so happy that he left,” he said.
“His democratic legitimacy has been eroded by what he has done over the past year,” Baheyeldin added.
Egyptian Canadians who spoke to The Record, like many in their native country, believe that since the election Morsi has gone against democratic processes, giving himself supreme power and creating a divisive climate.
“He put himself above the law … He made himself a dictator,” Baheyeldin said of Morsi’s policies and process creating the country’s constitution.
“He was a president for his group only,” he added about the control of the Brotherhood.
A local expert in international political economy cautioned, however, that what’s been deemed a military coup occurring only a year after the country’s first free election does not bode well for democracy in Egypt.
“I think this really is a step backwards,” said Bessma Momani, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and associate professor at the University of Waterloo.
“It unfortunately means the army is in charge and not only the army is in charge but it will play this ominous role for any future democratically elected government. What government is going to ever cross the military again knowing that it is very easily disposed of?” she said.
Whether the uprising is a true representation of the feelings of the majority of Egyptians is also difficult to determine.
While millions of people flooded Tahrir Square in protests against Morsi, Momani pointed out that they represent a minority of the country’s population of more than 80 million.
Morsi and the Brotherhood had great support in Egypt’s rural and poor urban areas, Momani said.
Although that has dwindled in the past year due to the country’s failing economy and conservative social policies, they still saw many successful elections for president, parliament and the constitutional referendum.
But local Egyptians say the growing disdain for Morsi was widespread, crossing political beliefs.
“He was successful in one thing, that he created 90 million enemies in one year,” said Mohamed Elmasry, also from Egypt and a professor emeritus in computer engineering at the University of Waterloo.
Morsi alienated and oppressed youth, women, people of differing religions including Muslim denominations and many of those in the arts community, said Elmasry who visited his native country in March and has participated in Egyptian political protests.
“What happened was a people’s revolution supported by the army, it’s not a coup,” he said. “The vast majority of Egyptians … were in a very happy mood, celebrating until the early morning today (Thursday).”
Life in Egypt since Morsi took office has been on a steady decline — conditions being worse, some say, than life under Mubarak.
“Egypt witnessed the worst year in its modern history,” Elmasry said. “(Morsi) did not pay attention to the economy; inflation last year was somewhere around 50 per cent and unemployment skyrocketed.”
However, the economic downturn over the past year is a result of systemic problems that Momani said will still be there regardless of who is in power.
“I think (the military) will take it upon itself to make those economic reforms and those are going to be reforms that are a really hard pill to swallow and I’m afraid we’re going to see a lot more protests as a result of that,” she said.
Acknowledging the economic challenges of the country, Egyptians locally feel that future presidents must at least make the first steps toward improving the economy — steps they feel Morsi was incapable to make.
“We were not expecting him to make Egypt like the U.S. in one year,” said Ahmed Abdel Aziz, a student at the University of Waterloo who grew up in Egypt. “But the problem is, it was about taking a first step going on the right track … and he couldn’t do that.”
Continuing to receive updates from family members in Egypt and through news reports, Egyptian expatriates hope that this time the uprising will have more promising results.
“I don’t really care about the ideology, I want a political process that’s inclusive,” Baheyeldin said.
“I think now we have a chance to restart.”
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