Friday, June 28, 2013

Anti-Morsi protests in Egypt

There is a resurgence of the Egyptian uprising with hundreds of thousands of protestors across the country demanding the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on the first anniversary of his becoming president. On Wednesday, Morsi televised a 2-1/2 hour speech into Tahrir Square where tens of thousands of his adversaries gathered to watch, chanting slogans, holding up shoes in disrespect, & holding up red cards demanding “enough already--leave.”

Media narratives obfuscate much of what is going on & emphasize the growing political polarization between supporters of Morsi & the Muslim Brotherhood versus secular political forces. The Morsi regime is referred to as an Islamist regime. The term Islamist signifies a conservative religious government guided by the moral principles of shariah law. But this term has limited political value due to the complete ignorance most of us have of Islam, including shariah law; because of the Islamophobic character of much “western” scholarship on political Islam; & because Islamism is extremely diverse with a powerful anti-colonial dynamic & is most often a response to US-European dominance in the region. It’s more often a term used to mask the real conflicts.

Legions of anti-Morsi protestors are themselves Muslims though they have strong political opposition to a theocratic state--for the same reasons anti-Zionists oppose Israel. There’s no question Egyptians are mobilizing against the conservative religious tenets of the new constitution & policies forced on them by Morsi--including the denial of religious freedom to Coptic Christians & other religions, & the denial of women’s, worker’s, & democratic rights. The Morsi government is attempting to destroy every form of democracy, backed by Muslim Brotherhood thugs & undercover operatives. But is this assault on democratic rights in the service of Islam or for the even higher purpose of advancing neoliberalism?

Mubarak yoked Egypt to an IMF structural adjustment program (SAP) in 1991 & the consequence of this was massive impoverishment for 90% of Egyptians & massive plunder by a handful of Egyptian elites & foreign investors. Neoliberalism can best be described as capitalism Al Capone-style since it operates like a crime syndicate. In fact they’re indistinguishable.

US & European governments backing the IMF can work with any kind of government to advance their plunder: a dictatorship, a military dictatorship, a semi-feudal state, a Zionist state, or an Islamic state. What they find incompatible with plunder is democracy or independence of any kind. That’s why for all their Islamophobic fulminations against Iran & other “Islamist”regimes, they work so compatibly with the Morsi regime which, though "Islamist," fully supports the continuation of neoliberal policies in Egypt. In fact, key Muslim Brotherhood figures in the Morsi government are billionaire neoliberal proponents & profiteers.

Conditions for Egyptians have only deteriorated since their historic uprising ousting Mubarak in 2011. Hundreds of thousands didn’t fight pitched battles & thousands didn’t die for a continuation of the same economic & political misery. Once again, tyranny exposed its weakness when Morsi reportedly talked in his speech about the close rapport his presidency has with the military & began moving military vehicles about the country, including around Tahrir Square, in preparation for protests this coming Sunday demanding Morsi leave. It’s so much easier to rule if lies prevail; shooting at people tends to make the real relationship crystal clear.

The opposition to Morsi includes unsavory political forces with another agenda than the majority of Egyptians so the sharp polarization poses problems in the absence of effective leadership. But one thing is sure: the polarization is not primarily Muslims against Christians, secularists, & atheists; it is primarily the policies of elite & foreign plunderers against Egyptian working people.

Here protestors (clearly many Muslims) raise their shoes in disrespect & chant for Morsi to leave as they watch his long-winded address in Tahrir Square. (For a 2-1/2 hour speech alone he should be impeached.)

Our fullest solidarity with Egyptian working people. May they forge the leadership they deserve!

(Photo by Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

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