The Second Egyptian uprising is complicated and few have any idea what the army takeover will mean in practice. There are two broad currents of popular opinion in Egypt.The first are those who believe in pushing Egypt towards becoming a more Islamic republic under Morsi.
who support Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are usually poorer and
more uneducated with little understanding of what the procedures of a
functioning democracy are beyond imposing the will of the 'Godly' people
against those forces that are not.
The second consists of a
broad coalition of the educated and more secular minded Egyptians,
Coptic Christians and anti-Islamist Muslims who resent the Muslim
Brotherhood because its puritanism and incompetence is bad for the
economy and the tourist industry.
For years before the 2011
revolution, Egypt was trapped in a cycle of fanatical Islamist revolt
and state repression. When terrorists murdered tourists in Luxor in 1997
there was mass revulsion against Islamists who reacted with a ceasefire
Subsequently, the more moderate Islamists
represented by Morsi built up a rival power base and were dedicated to
working their way to power through a democratic mandate as a means to
impose their brand of state power on society in a way that cannot be
other than polarising and divisive.
The problem has been, set against the background of a collapsing economy, that the Morsi regime has been seen to be allowing radicalised Islamists some freedom to persecute minorities such as the Copts in order to retain a populist power base, a strategy that shows continuity with Mubarak's dictatorship.
opposition to Morsi is based upon those politically minded Egyptians
with a memory of constitutional rule for thirty years before Colonel
Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak ended the relatively free expression of
opinion and imposed military rule and dictatorship.
certain whether Egypt is really going to follow the pattern followed by
Pakistan of regular popular army coups as Jonathan Steele suggests. Egypt is an ancient
land with a social and cultural unity that gives it an identity beyond
being a nation defined only by Islam. Nor is it divided on sectarian
lines as Syria.
The army takeover, called by the BBC a coup, may
well accentuate a society already polarised in to two rival camps. Yet
it was polarised in any case by Morsi's rule and the fact the Muslim
Brotherhood has an illiberal majoritarian 'will of the umma' concept of
democracy as set against a liberal constitutional alternative.
educated classes in Cairo and others annoyed at Morsi do not want a
choice of either secular dictatorship backed by the army or an Islamist
regime dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood but to push for the proper
full democracy with a functioning constitution and checks and balances
promised in 2011.
Whether the protesters in Tahrir Square will get that or not is not at all certain.