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Editorial: Egypt’s future

Egypt’s revolution appeared to have been the most successful in keeping with democratic ideals.

Unlike other nations experiencing the “Arab Spring,” Egypt hadn’t collapsed into chaos with the removal of Hosni Mubarak as president. Instead, Egypt and its citizens took the necessary steps to form a government with an elected parliament and president. And while it was the Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, that emerged as dominant voting blocs, the thinking remained that the government would adhere to those democratic principles.

Creating a new democracy, however, is not simply holding free and fair elections. Once elected, it’s about seeing those ideals flourish and grow, ruling, as President Mohammed Morsi promised, for all Egyptians.

Too many Egyptians found that the nation under Morsi was not making progress where it mattered most — the economy — and instead was taking steps to turn the country toward greater Islamic dominance. Under Morsi, steps were taken that seemingly reflected the old times under Mubarak, only with more influence exerted by the clerics. And when it came to persuading the public of the direction Egypt should take, too often that reasoning depended upon brutality and thuggery, also reminiscent of the past regime.

It became too much for the pluralistic society to accept.

All of this had resulted in the military removing Morsi from office. That’s a step backward, even if the military is promising new elections and the creation of a new constitution. And as the world has seen, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic parties in Egypt are not about to take a back seat. Already there have been violent clashes between soldiers and police and those who supported Morsi with at least 51 protesters killed. Such violence is likely to be repeated in the coming days and months.

And meanwhile, the chief of Egypt’s top court, Adly Mansour, now interim president, has the unenviable task of trying to move Egypt forward. That means finding the right balance between maintaining civil rights and promoting democratic ideals while keeping the country from sliding too far into sectarian violence. This means keeping Egypt’s armed forces on something of a short leash, which may not be easy given that the military is the reason Mansour’s in office.

It’s a mess, and one where the United States must find its own balance. The U.S. has laws to bar it from providing aid to a country where a coup has taken place. That law will come into play and should be used to influence those now leading Egypt to get it back on track toward democracy, and fast.

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