Out of the fire, back into the frying pan

Aug. 02, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

“It is like scrambling back into the frying pan to get out of the fire.”
Native Egyptian and longtime Chapel Hill resident Samia Serageldin, is trying to describe where Egypt finds itself after the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi. She explains that if the post-Mubarak military rule was the frying pan, then rule under President Morsi was the fire.
Although she left Egypt more than 30 years ago Serageldin and her husband maintain close ties there, regularly visiting Cairo for extended periods and keeping in touch with relatives and friends.
She feels that it was necessary to remove the government of Morsi, who, she says, was moving away from democracy towards a permanent Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
But she is not happy about it. She had high hopes for her native land after the overthrow of the Mubarak regime and the elections that followed.
“The elections were by-and-large fair. The margin was narrow. But, in any case, his [Morsi’s] opponent conceded and it was a very hopeful time. After a series of 60 years of military rule, here we were, in Egypt, with our first elected civilian government.”
However, that turned quickly into being the ‘fire.’”
She believes that Morsi’s one year in office turned out to be a disaster.
“He misunderstood his mandate. He was not elected [only] by the Muslim Brotherhood supporters but also by a large group of liberals and secularists, who could not bring themselves to vote for his opponent, who was a Mubarak's diehard supporter. It would seem to have been like voting for Mubarak. So many people for whom the whole Muslim Brotherhood is an anathema, voted for Morsi because he was the lesser of two evils.”
Morsi lost that support by bringing into his government people from the Islamic parties who had little experience and failed to make progress in reviving Egypt’s economy.
More important, she says, is that “he was clearly on a forceful agenda to gather every strand of power in his own hands so that he would have Muslim Brotherhood rule forever.”
Serageldin says, “Now the majority of the liberal element is scrambling to get back into the frying pan. But they hope that the military rule will be limited and short.”
It is very important, Serageldin says, that the military make every effort to deal with the pro-Morsi demonstrators without significant violence. If there is massive bloodshed, the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies will make that “martyrdom” a rallying cry for generations.
While Serageldin is hopeful, she acknowledges the future will be difficult because Egypt is deeply divided. “My friends and my family are still divided. I know of twin sisters, one of whom is demonstrating on behalf of the army and the other is demonstrating on behalf of Morsi.”
Note: For more of Samia Serageldin’s commentary see her blog at http://samiaserageldin.blogspot.com.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch. Today’s guest is guest is Ann B. Ross author of “Miss Julia to the Rescue.”