This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
The next Egyptian shoe to drop is word of what will happen with Mohamed Morsi. A few days ago I speculated that Morsi might be renditioned to Guantanamo but no one picked up the idea and ran with it. I was writing tongue-in-cheek but the question remains. Whither Morsi?
Germany has called for Morsi’s release. The United States signed on. Release Morsi in Egypt? I doubt it.
With millions of disgruntled Muslim Brotherhood members demanding his reinstatement as President, releasing Morsi would make him a hero on the streets. You simply can’t have a democratically-elected, deposed, former President walking the Egyptian streets.
The other idea – placing Morsi on trial for treason – is more likely. It is obviously ludicrous. It is also dangerous. Do you remember the emotions that surfaced at Mubarak’s trial after he was deposed? Though there remained some committed Mubarak supporters, most everyone was tired of him. Nor did Mubarak ever have the popular base Morsi has. Everyone in the world would see Morsi’s prosecution as a show trial.
Imagine if Morsi were somehow found innocent. What to do with a democratically elected, deposed, innocent, former President with years left in his term of office. Reinstate him?
The assumed guilty verdict would create problems as well. If Morsi were found to be a traitor, would he be imprisoned for life? Hanged?
The dangers are obvious. Right now Morsi is a hero to his supporters. I doubt the Egyptian army wants to make him a martyr.
If Morsi were convicted and wasn’t executed, he couldn’t stay in Egypt as a free man or in prison. The best case scenario for the Egyptian army is to get Morsi out of Egypt. But to where?
Since Germany has called for his release, would Germany be willing to take him? Perhaps another European country – France or Spain? The problem is that European countries, the preferred destination of deposed leaders for years, now have sizable Muslim populations. Morsi might become a rallying cry among Muslims in Europe and perhaps even among the non-Muslim populous who believe that the democratic process is important. It’s difficult to imagine Morsi spending the rest of his life hanging out in Parisian cafes or in the London pubs.
How about the United States? Impossible. It would raise too many questions about the US war on terror and America’s participation in international intrigue. No doubt Wikileaks or Edward Snowden would have a field day exposing American communications with the Egyptian military.
Then there’s Russia and China – Japan? How about Africa or the Arab world? Would Venezuela do a twofer, getting safe passage for Snowden if they agree to take Morsi?
There are problems with all these scenarios since the deep state everywhere also has to be aware of deep Islam – the more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. Morsi may have been a localized Egyptian Muslim politician. Deposed and held incommunicado by the Egyptian army he is on the verge of becoming something else. What that something else is remains to be seen.
Revolutions are complicated, since you never know where they might go. Coups are complicated, too.
The world’s eyes are on what happens to the deposed Egyptian leader. That might tell us where Egypt is going.