All Bets are off in Possible Military Coup
Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2012) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Egypt’s highest court has dissolved the Parliament, 75 percent of whose members were Islamists, invalidating the elections and granting legislative control to the military council. The decision came only days before a likely victory by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s presidential elections.
On June 14, the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the Islamist-dominated Parliament should be dissolved because one-third of its members were elected unlawfully, stating that candidates running as independents were in actuality sponsored by political parties and thereby seated unconstitutionally. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, who makes up about 45 percent of the Parliament, said they do not recognize the decision.
While official results for the presidential election have not yet been announced, Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi declared victory today after the Brotherhood released a tally that showed that Morsi edged out a defeat over Ahmed Shafiq, the last Prime Minister under former president Hosni Mubarak. Shafiq, viewed by many as loyal to the ousted regime, had received court approval to run for president while several prominent Islamist candidates were rejected, adding to speculations that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) hopes to take complete control and return the country to pre-revolutionary rule.
Moreover, after the polls closed on Sunday evening, the SCAF announced a constitutional declaration that expands their power over civilian politicians, degrades the presidency to a subservient role, and grants them authority to draft a new constitution in an apparent effort to guard against an Islamist presidential victory. The move extends the SCAF’s hold on legislative power and raises new doubts about the military's promise to hand over power to a civilian government by the end of June.
Christians and some secularists in Egypt, however, welcomed the SCAF’s decision to dissolve Parliament, convinced the country was about to be handed over to Islamists who would suppress religious freedoms and persecute non-Muslims.
“Christians are happy, because they were afraid the Muslim Brotherhood was taking over the Parliament,” Athanasious Williams, a Coptic Christian human rights lawyer in Cairo, told Compass Direct News. “But now they feel that there might be a better chance for a secular government.”
“Definitely it is good,” said Emad Gad, a leader of the secular Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary bloc, “We can demonstrate against Shafiq, but we cannot demonstrate against the Islamists.”
Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center in Herzliya, Israel, believes that massive violence will be the inevitable result: “In short, everything is confused and everything is a mess. All calculations are thrown to the wind. What this appears to be is a new military coup. What is the underlying theme? The armed forces concluded that an Islamist takeover was so dangerous for Egypt and for its own interests that it is better to risk civil war, a bloodbath, and tremendous unpopularity than to remain passive and turn over power… They have decided that they had no choice.”
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The ‘Arab Spring’, which Egypt’s Christians and secularists believed would grant greater freedoms, has instead given rise to Islamists that do not recognize the rights of religious minorities, but have used their political power to protect and condone radical Muslims who have relentlessly attacked Christians and their places of worship. The recent move by the military council to retake control threatens the very fabric of Egypt’s revolution by returning the country to military rule. This, however, is welcomed by the Christian community who believes that a return to the old regime is the only hope remaining for a peaceful existence. Muslims, on the other hand, will not back down quietly. Remember that 75 percent of registered voters voted for Islamists in the parliamentary elections. A military takeover of the democratic process that Egyptians fought so hard to achieve could mean civil war. A similar situation occurred in Algeria when the army staged a coup just before elections to stop the Islamic Salvation Front from gaining victory in 1991. The result - 150,000-200,000 killed in a decade long civil war. Yet, the military appears to be willing to risk civil war to keep Islamists from gaining power. At this point, all bets are off. The wrestling match is on. And, Christians are once again caught in the middle.”