By Josh Goodman & James Parks, Breitbart
In recent weeks, the international outcry that followed the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi serves to confirm how fundamental the lie that Morsi was democratically elected has become in our perception of the Egyptian government. This oft-repeated inaccuracy is entirely unfounded in facts, and it is imperative that we understand what it actually means to be duly elected.
This fact is made all the more important with the backdrop of the manic attempts to avoid calling the military overthrow a “coup” in the debate over Section 7008 of theÂ Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012; itÂ provides, in part,Â that funds shall not be made available to the government of a country whose “duly elected head of government,” is deposed by military coup d’etat or decree.
After Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former 30-year ruler, was forced to resign by nationwide protests in the most populous Arab country, the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamic group notorious for its role in the creation of Hamas and participation in myriad oppressive regimes, eventually emerged as the leading party in the new Egyptian government. Yet hailing Morsi as the democratically elected representative of the Egyptian people appears to be based on a rather loose understanding of “democracy.”
The Brotherhood has been accused ofÂ bribingÂ andÂ intimidatingÂ voters andÂ rigging ballotsÂ during theÂ 2012 elections.Â TheÂ election suffered from abysmally poor voter turnout (43.4% of registered voters), which is especially troubling given the ostensibly historic nature of the race. Out of 23 million voters in the first round of elections, 12 millionÂ did not voteÂ for either of the two candidates ultimately placed in the run-off vote. Capping this all off was a blatant power grab from the military, which changed the constitution mid-election to limit the power of the newly elected President.
Once in power, Morsi acted increasingly autocratically, visiting vengeance upon political opponents and cracking down on civil liberties; for example, theÂ sentencing to prison of 43 NGO workers, eventually culminating in his notorious decree onÂ November 22Â that prohibited Egypt’s courts from challenging any laws passed since he assumed office. Although Morsi was eventually forced to annul this decree, the Constitution he signed into law in December 2012 nevertheless represented a significant increase in the Muslim Brotherhood’s autocratic powers.
TheÂ new ConstitutionÂ strengthened the explicit ties between Islam and the Egyptian state. Article 2 proclaims Islam as the state religion of Egypt and endorses Sharia Law as the main source of legislation (specifically modeled on Sunni principles per Article 219); Article 44 prohibits the insulting of religious prophets; and Article 81 prohibits the exercise of rights and freedoms that conflict with the principles “pertaining to State and society included in Part I of this Constitution,” effectively imposing Sharia law.
Such provisions limiting the freedom of expression and implicitly expressing disfavor for minority religious groups indicate a disturbing turn towards a form of theocracy in Egyptian civil society. The liberty to express minority views, worship freely and equally, and advocate for political change are