Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman had some critical words for Egypt’s military leaders after she was turned away from entering the country on August 4th. She had previously published her intention to join Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo.
“Denying me entry means only one thing. Egypt’s new government is returning to the autocratic ways of the past. They are not willing to tolerate difference in opinion,” she said.
“The Arab spring is about building democracy. A military coup is the antithesis of that. It undermines everything,” she said.
Of course she is right to doubt the motives of Egypt’s military leaders, who claim to be serving the will of the people. What is less clear is how much better deposed President Morsi’s creeping post-election despotism was going to be. Shortly after coming into office, Morsi granted himself unlimited powers, including the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review. Democratically elected in June 2012, by November Morsi was ruling by decree. By this point, Egypt’s system of government was arguably run no more democratically than that of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
Even with Mubarak gone, It is hiss military that holds the real power in Egyptian politics, as demonstrated by this year’s coup.