DISILLUSIONMENT with revolution is a universal phenomenon, so is the jealousy with which every revolution guards itself. That the hopes of the Egyptians have not been realised since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster goes without saying. President Mohammed Morsi’s government has failed to address any of the problems that had led to the Tahrir Square uprising. Mr Morsi has accumulated more powers than he should, the economy is in tatters — tourism has especially been hit — and he has behaved in a way that has often aroused judicial wrath and annoyed the media. But Egypt is not the only Arab country where the fall of dictators has been followed by restlessness among large segments of the masses who feel they have been denied the fruits of revolution. This restlessness may be justified, but it must be seen against the backdrop of the legacy of decades of authoritarian rule.
Whether it was Ben Ali, Muammar Qadhafi, Ali Abdullah Saleh or Hosni Mubarak, the strongmen had lent phony stability to their states by crushing all opposition and silencing the media. While the liberals went into hibernation, Islamist parties used the time to organise themselves, spread their message and extend relief services to the deprived. This helped them both during the agitation for democratic reforms and at the polls. As elections results show, Islamist parties have become a major force in electoral politics in these countries. President Morsi’s mistakes are many, and he has yet to indicate he accepts pluralism. Nevertheless, the dissidents must realise that he is a democratically elected ruler. While protest is their right, they have no moral authority to seek his ouster through violent means, such as yesterday’s attack on the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo, and create conditions that may tempt the army to abort Egypt’s nascent democracy.