Christian activist Mona Makram Obeid speaks during a session at the Shura Council building in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (Photo: AP)
Meeting with Congressmen and leading think-tanks in Washington over the past few days, parliamentarian and political science professor Mona Makram Ebeid is trying to “explain to the world what is really happening in Egypt.”
Ebeid arrived in the US capital on Wednesday, during the second leg of a mission that started in France and will take her on to Canada.
She has been appointed by the Foreign Ministry to explain to the world about the democratic path in Egypt following the removal of former president Mohamed Morsi early in July amid mass popular protests against his rule.
“Things are still not very clear in the minds of many people in the West who have not been following the details of what went on throughout Morsi's year in power. My mission is to clear up the picture,” Ebeid told Ahram Online.
According to Ebeid, widespread apprehension that followed the removal of Morsi is still present, “even though some are starting to see what really happened in Egypt.”
Ebeid said that the ‘coup or not a coup’ debate is dissipating, but global concern regarding Egypt’s commitment to democracy still needs to be addressed.
In Paris, Ebeid added, “I spoke at length about the roadmap that was adopted at the request of the people in the wake of the removal of Morsi. I also spoke about the determination of the state not to walk the path of political exclusion. I told them about the initiative of our Deputy Prime Minister Ziyad regarding national reconciliation and the commitment of the state and the interim-president to pursue transitional justice.”
Ebeid has been telling interlocutors that the public quarrel with Morsi is regarding the nature of the ‘civil state’.
“Egypt is a civil state and it cannot be otherwise; this is crucial to the homogeneity of the Egyptian population, which the West has voiced concern for following images of recent conflict,” Ebeid stated. She added, “Egypt is facing a struggle for its soul.”
“What I am telling people I have been meeting with is that we are currently working to establish a civil state that is governed by the rule of law and not the political affiliation of any particular president. Once this is done, it will be up to all political forces to join – according to the rules of the game of the civil state and never in line with a theocracy, as under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ebeid said.
Ebeid said questions have been raised repeatedly concerning, 'the use of force against protestors during the dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya pro-Morsi sit-in on 14 August,' and 'the true reason for the intervention of the army in the wake of the 30 June demonstrations.'
“I have not denied that perhaps the dispersal could have been executed in a way that might have reduced the number of casualties, but I have stressed the number of warnings prior to the dispersals and that it was up to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood to order the safe exit of their supporters,” Ebeid said. She added that police and army casualties, both "during the dispersal of Rabaa and subsequent clashes, particularly in Sinai cannot be ignored by the world.”
Violent clashes following the dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Square on 14 August led to the death of more than 600 protesters, including over 100 security forces, police and army. Additionally, a crackdown on Islamist groups in the Sinai has led to the death of tens of militants and security forces following the ouster of Morsi on 3 July.
The army of Egypt, Ebeid emphasised to her interlocutors, is “a patriotic army that acts upon the will of the people – it did so during the 25 January Revolution, despite [former president Hosni] Mubarak himself being from a military background." Ebeid adds, "I think many tend to overlook this fact when analysing the position of the army... So, it is not about Morsi having been a civil president, but that he was a president who failed to rule in line with the will of the people,” she concludes.
“I am not denying there are concerns that we have in Egypt regarding the path forward, which I acknowledge with those I meet, but we have to recognise that the path to democracy is never a walk in a park. What counts most is upholding Egyptian stability, which is in the interests of the region and the world,” Ebeid explained.
Ebeid added, the process of drafting a new constitution has solicited many questions from parliamentarians, journalists, researchers and some officials she has been meeting. “I tell them we are working on a constitution that is compatible with the identity of Egypt, which was gravely compromised by the constitution of the Muslim Brotherhood,” she said.
Ebeid concluded that Egypt’s future constitution will hopefully establish the separation of power, social justice and facilitate the interaction of a society in which pluralism is matched with homogeneity, and where women, Copts and other minorities are not marginalised or humiliated.