When Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a military coup last week, many Americans cheered. After a year in power, Egypt’s first Islamist president is out and the secular military has taken over until new elections can be held.
Reason to celebrate, right? Except there were many caveats. Morsi may have been an Islamist, but he was also democratically elected. The idea that democratically elected officials can be ousted by the military anytime people aren’t happy is disconcerting and sets a problematic precedent for a country attempting to become a stable democracy.
None of this is to say that the Muslim Brotherhood government was good for Egypt. They weren’t, and they certainly weren’t good for U.S. interests.
But is the interim government really that much better? Immediately after taking power, the military shut down all Islamic television stations. Today, Al-Jazeera was kicked out of a military press conference. Al-Jazeera was founded by Qatar’s ruling family, which strongly supported Morsi.
Coptic Christians aren’t faring much better. The group, which comprises approximately 10% of Egypt’s population, has been included in the military’s deliberations, and Copt leader Pope Tawadros II stood with Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi when he announced the interim government’s plan. Even so, the Copts aren’t safe. Renewed instability means a much more dangerous situation for them.
And according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Copts have reason to worry:
In Cairo things have been relatively quiet, but the Copts there are terrified. In a widely circulated YouTube clip taken from Egyptian television, a pro-Morsi demonstrator in a niqab face covering threatens to burn all the Christians in the world, saying they cause conflicts among Muslims. This is not just empty talk. On Saturday morning, a large police contingent was dispatched to the Copt neighborhood in old Cairo.
A Muslim Brotherhood government clearly was not the ideal situation. But right now, things aren’t looking any better.