Last week, Egypt’s ambassador to the U.K., Ashraf El-Kholy, compared the Muslim Brothers to the Nazis. On August 21, the columnist Gershon Baskin wrote in the Jerusalem Post that the “Muslim Brotherhood, like Hamas in Gaza, was elected democratically, and so was Hitler’s Nazi party.
“While I do not accept the comparison made by the Egyptian ambassador, it has its relevance in the right of democracies to protect themselves from those who essentially seek their destruction….
“The June 30 Second Egyptian Revolution is a good thing. It was clear that while the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections, the results of those elections did not truly reflect the will of the Egyptian populace. The failed governance of the Brothers and their attempts to change Egypt from the ground up give legitimacy to the toppling of the Morsi government and to the determined resolve demonstrated by the Egyptian interim government and the military to crush the counterrevolution of Morsi’s supporters.”
Gershon Baskin suggests that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in a democratic election did not “truly reflect the will of the Egyptian populace” and that, therefore, a military coup was necessary to protect Egyptian democracy. One wonders whether any election result in a democracy ever does more than deliver a practical way of governing by compromise between various groups, rather than “express the will of the populace,” an abstraction rather than a useful concept.
While it is perfectly true that democratic constitutions must provide ways for governments to defend themselves against forces trying to subvert them from within, this is irrelevant to those who justify the Egyptian military coup on the groups that, instead of providing good government, the Muslim Brothers had attempted to change Egypt from the ground up. Surely it is impossible to say that such a judgement expresses the “true will of the populace” rather than the true will of the military. Obviously, the constitution of the Muslim Brothers had not provided a protection against a coup.
Similarly, the Weimar constitution did not provide the means to prevent an enemy of democracy from gaining power by manipulating a senile president and his corrupt entourage into surrendering the reins of government peacefully. As a matter of fact, a coup by the military at the last minute might have saved democracy in Germany.
Hitler never won an election democratically. By the time Hitler seized power on January 30, 1933, there had been the Reichstag fire on February 24 and a reign of terror had been established.