Rule of the People

The lesson of Egypt's new revolution is that even in democracies, leaders cannot cling to election results as though they were a promissory note that authorizes them to impose their ideology, while ignoring the wishes of the people.

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Overthrowing Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi required the army to step in, but the army did not initiate his ouster. Rather it was millions of Egyptians, represented by the many demonstrators who took to the streets, who sketched the portrait of the state they want to live in.

The innovation that occurred here the importance of which cannot be overestimated is that unlike the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, this week's revolution wasn't only against a failing president, but against an ideology that runs contrary to the wishes of most of the public. Egypt, the demonstrators made clear, will not settle for a procedural democracy based on election results. Egypt demands a true democracy, whose government is committed to serving all its citizens and safeguarding the civil rights that are an integral part of a true democracy.

Egypt's citizens, who first saw in the Muslim Brotherhood a partner in the hope for a civil state, soon realized they had chosen for themselves a failed leadership which couldn't produce a worthy outline for improving their lives. Even worse, the first free election after more than 60 years brought to power a sectarian, religious regime, which failed to understand its public mission.

The harsh dilemma between respecting the democratic process and dealing with the repression that it brought about was resolved the day before Thursday.
One may of course question the essence of a democracy that needs an army to achieve its goals, but it is wrong to judge the protest movements for their impatience with the product of their demonstrations.

The Egyptian spectacle, which deserves praise and admiration, is not without risks and still has no answers to the hard questions facing Egypt. The country is immersed in a deep economic crisis and the state of public security is far from satisfactory. The Muslim Brotherhood has not accepted Morsi's ousting and may act, even violently, against it. The way to political stability is paved with mines.

But the lesson to be learned by this new revolution has already been clearly outlined. Even in democracies, leaders are not permitted to cling to election results as though they were a promissory note that authorizes them to impose their ideology, while ignoring the wishes of the people.

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