Aug 1, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

So much for Egypt's first exercise in democratic government

The weekend crackdown in Egypt on supporters of ousted former president Mohammed Morsi apparently was one of the most gruesome reporting assignments in recent memory for both The Associated Press and McClatchy-Tribune News Service reporters who supply us with our "wire" news.

Stories filed at separate times by separate reporters who work for different agencies described a scene of shocking gore. Among other facts, blood was flowing, literally, along the floors of the hospital nearest the scene of the shootings. Horrid stuff.

As the world watches Egypt's latest spasm of political upheaval and civil unrest, it notes accurately that this violence was perpetrated by Egypt's army on Egypt's own citizens -- a sure sign that the "democracy" touted there after the Arab Spring uprisings of a couple of years ago didn't fit the world's definition of the word.

Gunning down your own citizens in the streets during a political rally is a hallmark of something other than democracy.

Of course, democracy normally doesn't allow for the forceful overthrow of an elected president, either. Further, when a president does leave office, a true democracy accounts for an orderly transfer of power, either via election or a specified succession process.

Morsi was, and is, a highly controversial figure. In retrospect, the nation ought to have chosen a less polarizing figure as its president. Before his ouster, mounting evidence showed he was no prize. But his election was Egypt's first truly democratic vote, and any state claiming to be democratic must recognize the right to peaceful protest.

"Peaceful" might well include rowdy, but so long as no violence is being perpetrated by the assembly, then a display like that of the Egyptian military is grossly out of place.

As democracies go, Egypt has a lot to learn.


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