It is no surprise that the Turkish ruling party—itself an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood—castigated Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster as a sign of backwardness in Egypt, and AKP spokesman Hüseyin Çelik urged the Muslim Brotherhood supporters to reverse the coup through violence, if necessary. “I curse the dirty coup in Egypt. I hope the broad masses who brought Morsi to power will defend their votes, which mean democratic honor,” he tweeted.
Certainly what occurred was a coup, but it’s pretty farfetched to call Mohamed Morsi democratic. As Eric Trager explains in the Wall Street Journal:
The turning point in Mr. Morsi’s presidency came on Nov. 22, when he asserted unchecked executive authority through a constitutional declaration and, weeks later, rammed an Islamist constitution through to ratification. When mass protests erupted in response, Mr. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood colleagues dispatched Brotherhood cadres to attack the protesters, and seven people were killed in the fighting.
It seems strange to have Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Hüseyin Çelik, or Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lecture on backwardness. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for the Turkish triumvirate to consider what backward really means:
- Would they consider the murder rate of women rising 1,400 percent under a single political party’s rule backward?
- Would they consider support for unrepentant terrorist groups backward?
- Would they consider blatant anti-Semitism backward?
- Would they consider antipathy toward free speech and free media backward?
- Would they consider imprisonment of deaf mutes for alleged terror incitement backward?
- Would they consider punishing doctors for treating peaceful protestors backward?
- Would they consider child marriage backward?
- Would rampant corruption by the prime minister and members of his cabinet be backward?
What happened in Egypt was unfortunate, but sometimes such actions are a last resort when leaders dispense with the rule of law, forget their own accountability to the public, and believe they can undertake authoritarianism without consequence. When Egypt holds new elections, let us hope the process of democratization can continue. In the meantime, let us hope that the Turkish government recognizes that it is Turkey that has moved backward, away from the 21st century and headlong into the past.