31st Jul, 2013 –
From reading the Western media, we learn that the forcible removal from power of democratically elected President Morsi was a good coup – in fact it wasn’t a coup d’etat at all, because apparently we only use that terminology for army takeovers that we don’t like.
When the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood were rounded up and imprisoned and bizarre charges were leveled against that deposed president, all we heard from American and European politicians were vague statements applauding the army for listening to the “will of the people” and “protecting Egypt’s fledgling democracy”.
Some commentators said that the army had done well to step in and prevent a civil war – to many of those watching it looks like the Egyptian army leadership has done precisely the opposite.
Let’s put aside for a minute the issue of whether we sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood, or whether we believe that Morsi’s term in office was in effect a series of disasters and mishaps – the international reaction to his removal has sent a clear signal to Egypt’s military that it can do what it likes to suppress the pro-Morsi protests.
Several hundred Egyptians have already been killed in this crackdown, often murdered by snipers or troops using live fire to clear the streets; and all the indicators are that there will be worse bloodshed in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Bahrain still endures heavy criticism for its actions two years ago to detain ringleaders of attempts to forcibly impose an Islamic Republic. More people die in Egypt in a single day than protesters who have lost their lives in two years of Bahrain’s unrest, yet there are still those who try to vilify Bahrain’s leadership for the mostly responsible and proportionate manner in which they have dealt with militant activity (although we also must acknowledge that severe mistakes were made in the early days of the unrest).
Clearly the reason why Egyptian Islamists are unpopular with the West is their social agenda, their attitude to Israel and their reluctance to cozy up to Western powers.
However, Bahrain’s islamist opposition is if anything more extremist, more sectarian and more prone to using violence to get their way – so why are they the darlings of assorted human rights movements and deluded academics?
The Egyptian experience shows that Bahrain’s opposition’s expressed desire to destroy our Constitutional Monarchy and turn ourselves overnight into a republic is deeply flawed and would only result in bloodshed, the collapse of the economy and perhaps years of anarchy and social unrest.
So why are there so many people who know nothing about Bahrain but argue strongly that we should kick out our Royal Family and take a leap into the unknown?
Whichever group takes power in Egypt after the next elections – if they occur at all – this new leadership will almost certainly be rejected by the other half of the Egyptian nation. This new leadership will therefore will face the choice between violently restoring order, or enduring endless protests, chaos and social unrest while the economy continues to spiral.
Does anyone want such a scenario for Bahrain? Why are people so quick to dismiss the path of reform, dialogue and reconciliation, when this is the only way we can peacefully create a more representative and accountable political system which serves the needs of all its people.
Unfortunately the Shia opposition has created a Sunni extremist backlash – so now most Bahrainis see the political choice as being between one of two extremes.
Let’s not make the mistake of Iraq and Lebanon in aspiring to vote for politicians depending on what sect they represent or how long their beard is – this sectarian model has been a disaster everywhere. Likewise, the sole factor in dividing politicians shouldn’t be whether they are secular or religious.
Our nation and region will only prosper when we put these sectarian issues to one side and aspire to govern our countries according to our national interest: What policies will create jobs? How can we provide affordable housing and good education for all? How can we attract investment and tourism?
Why does nobody talk about these crucial issues anymore? It’s almost unthinkable to say such a thing these days, but we should stop caring about whether our representatives are Shia, Sunni or even non-Muslim. If they serve the public they deserve our support. If they are corrupt and incompetent then we should use the proper democratic channels to banish them.