The warning by the Egyptian army chief and Defence Minister, Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, that his country was sliding into chaos must be taken seriously by the ruling Muslim Brotherhood movement. The minister said there is a clear and present threat of state collapse and social anarchy.
The warning follows weeks of protests and clashes between protesters and security forces. The opposition parties rightly demand that the government of President Mohammad Mursi must stop copying the policies of the pre-Arab Spring government of former president Hosni Mubarak, overthrown by popular protests in February 2011. The Brotherhood seems to have broken every promise it made during the subsequent campaigns and prefers to rule unopposed. The constitution was drafted by a committee dominated by its members and allies. Social and economic policies, which the Brotherhood opposed for decades, have been reinstated recently by the president.
Mursi, elected last year with a narrow margin over his opponent Ahmad Shafiq, promised that he will be a president of all Egyptians. However, since then, he seems interested in promoting a Muslim Brotherhood agenda that has alienated the majority of Egyptians and the Christian minority.
On Monday, he imposed a state of emergency in large parts of the country and ordered the army to confront the protesters — something Mubarak was reluctant to do even at the height of the 2011 revolution.
The latest developments in Egypt are the result of months of frustration of the people who feel the revolution that overthrew the autocratic rule of Mubarak has been hijacked by another autocratic rule in an Islamist disguise. Egypt has always been the centre of moderate, open-minded and inclusive Islam — a country that led the Arab world in education, arts and innovation. However, it is now dominated by a regressive elite that promotes a narrow view of the religion among the majority of its population.
Mursi must rethink his way of governance. Otherwise, the largest Arab country will be, as the minister of defence said, on its way to anarchy.