Egypt slides back into autocracy

For all the hope for democracy that was generated by the toppling of the Mubarak regime by popular demonstrations, we now see Egypt slide back into a familiar system, with a military general taking power in a coup and then consolidating his power by elections that are heavily slanted in his favor, cracking down on the media, and a judicial system that treats dissidents and opponents of the government harshly.

The latest case involves three Al Jazeera journalists who have been given harsh sentences for committing what seems to be straightforward acts of journalism.

There has been considerable worldwide outrage over this action but in this area too the US has little credibility because its own attitude towards journalists has been nothing to be proud of. In addition to severely cracking down on those reporters in the US who have exposed government wrongdoing, we should not forget that the US military actually targeted the Al Jazeera office in Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, killing one reporter and wounding another, even after the news service gave the US military its coordinates so that they could avoid doing so.

We also saw the murder by US forces in 2007 of two Reuters journalists among the at least 18 people killed in the Collateral Murder video released to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning.

The Daily Show discussed the Egypt show trial and sentencing of the journalists.

(This clip aired on June 23, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. colnago80 says

    Of course, if Morsi had remained in power, similar actions would have been taken and Sharia law imposed. Another case where Sissi is the lesser of the two evils.

  2. leftwingfox says

    Of course, if Morsi had remained in power, similar actions would have been taken and Sharia law imposed. Another case where Sissi is the lesser of the two evils.

    The difference is that Morsi was opposed by the military, el-Sisi is supported by the military. The most powerful force in the country went from being a check on authoritarian rule to an amplifier for it.

  3. colnago80 says

    Re leftwingfox @ #2

    Morsi would have purged the army of secular officers as Erdogan has done in Turkey and the mad mullahs have done in Iran. His ouster by the army short circuited that.

  4. Nick Gotts says

    That Morsi, whatever his wishes, lacked the power to impose a dictatorship, is made obvious to all except the extremely stupid by the fact of the military coup.

  5. Dunc says

    You can “prove” anything by reference to imaginary alternative histories. Nobody knows what would have happened if Morsi had remained in power. You can make an argument based on your assessment of what you think was likely to happen, but you have to actually make the argument, rather than simply state it as fact.

  6. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    What happened to Peter Greste and his fellow Al Jazeera staff is horrendous and totally unjust.

    Journalists should never be jailed for just doing their job and the quality of evidence against him and the others was beyond ridiculous. A complete show trial and mockery of justice and I would’ve expected much better from the Egyptian government.

    I was utterly appalled by that and have even written (e-mail) directly to Peter Greste asking what else we can do to help and expressing my sympathy and support.

    Got the address via this very food current affairs show – Dateline – segment here :

    I still think its good that Morsi’s not in charge and the Muslim Brotherhood were and are evil and definitely no better than virtually any alternative but, yeah, this is very wrong and the Egyptian regime has totally fouled up here.

    I hope Peter Greste and his AJ colleagues are freed pronto. This injustice needs correcting ASAP.

    I also hope this isn’t the end of Egyptian democracy and the start of another era of very nasty totalitarian dictatorship there. That ain’t good for anyone really and won’t end well.

  7. colnago80 says

    Re Nick Gotts @ #4

    Morsi wasn’t in power long enough to purge the secularists from the army, unlike Erdogan and Khomeini.

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