None of Morsi’s failures justified a coup

Former President Mohamed Morsi’s abilities to govern a country in transition did not help Egypt’s already huge list of problems. However, his party’s faults hardly justified the kind of coup that took place, Middle East blogger Karl Sharro told RT.

That is despite Morsi’s lack of understanding of how to properly mix religion and politics and avoid marginalizing a large segment of Egypt’s population, he believes.

RT:The overthrow of Morsi has been called a coup, but clearly he had massive popular support, so is that strictly the term to be used here?

Karl Sharro: Absolutely. We have to look not only at popular presence on the street, but at procedure. The army was involved: tanks and armored personnel carriers were driven around, the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested – including the president. There is no other way to describe this than a coup. So I think that needs to be made very clear.

The Muslim Brotherhood keeps saying ‘resist the army’; they are calling for peaceful revolt, but we live in the real world. Every time this happens there is bloodshed.

KS: Unfortunately this is the kind of situation where the military had, in its reaction to the popular uprising, contrived to create. But let’s remember what the real interest here is. It’s not the continuation of the democratic revolution. The military stepping in and effectively carrying out this coup is to stop the spread of the January popular uprising – and in my book, that would include people taking power and resorting to a democratic process. What we saw there is exactly the opposite, which is canceling the results of democratic elections.

RT:What would you say were the failings of Morsi’s term in power? We talked about the economy and what went wrong, but it wasn’t just that.

KS: There was a host of failures. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood: I’m usually critical both, of the role of religion that they brought into politics and of their lack of competence in administering the country and managing the transition towards democracy, reviving the economy and the sectarian language they’ve used consistently. There is a huge host of problems and a lack of ability for President Morsi to step up and represent the entire Egyptian population – the people that voted and represented him – and the other camp as well. So I think there are e huge failings, none of which justify a military coup against him.

RT:And religion was one of the key parts that went wrong for him, no?

KS: Yes, absolutely. I think that alienated both people like Christians and secularists, but also Muslim people who don’t think religion should be brought into politics in such a crass manner. But at the end of the day, the Muslim Brotherhood was elected with people knowing who they were. And not only did they win the presidential elections – with the help, of course, of people from other political affiliations – but they also won the parliamentary election, the results of which were canceled and the parliament was also annulled and disbanded. There’s a host of grievances, and they reflect on that period in the Egyptian transition when there wasn’t a single authority that was in control. But having said that, Egypt should have been given the chance to transition towards a more democratic future, and carry out the process and for the Muslim Brotherhood to be kicked out of office by resorting to that democratic process – not by military means.

What should the Muslim Brotherhood do now? The interim government is saying there will be new elections and a new parliament early next year. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are saying they don’t want anything to do with that. But should they get in on it while they still can?

KS: That’s a tactical decision that at the end of the day will be up to them. But what we have to look at is that by participating in that process they would be legitimizing this sort of coup, which is something we’ve seen already when Western governments – America and Europe – lectured us for a long time about the merits of democracy. You can’t legitimize that as the Muslim Brotherhood and I think a form of boycotting might be the tactical choice, but that will be done down the road, in the realm of details, because nobody can say conclusively there wouldn’t be some kind of deals to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back in one shape or another, because the military doesn’t want to be in the front row leading the country, so it will seek to cover itself and bring some sort of civilian legitimacy to it.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.