By Bonny Ibhawoh,

The military intervention in Egypt and the ousting of the democratically elected Islamist regime has been hailed by some as a victory of a popular revolution. Amidst the euphoria, however, we must ponder the larger implication of this trend for the future of liberal democracy in the Middle East.

It is true that the Islamist regime of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood promoted an exclusive Islamic agenda at the expense of a more secular and liberal agenda. It alienated many constituencies within Egyptian society.

However, the unilateral ousting of the regime by the military sets a dangerous precedence that may return to hunt the country. Democracy cannot be agreeable only when the “good guys” win. The ballot must be sacrosanct. Impeach the president; recall the parliamentarians through constitutional means rather than the barrel of the gun.

The so-called “doctrine of necessity” which some have invoked to justify the military coup is a slippery slope. Anyone can invoke it. Today it is the “good guys” but tomorrow it may be the “bad guys.”

As one commentator put it, the greatest danger is that the military coup will be interpreted by many political Islamists as sending a blunt message: it doesn’t pay to choose the ballot over the bullet. More may now turn to the bullet with grave consequences for the fragile political order. Democracy is a messy business but to endue and thrive it must be founded on principles not the politics of convenience.

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