In the series of extraordinary events since early February 2011, Mohamed Morsi's electoral victory is rivaled only by the fall of Hosni Mubarak. It seems that more than eight decades after Hassan al Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian presidency — heretofore the exclusive province of the military establishment — is now in the hands of the Islamists. Yet for all of the celebrating in downtown Cairo, could the pandemonium in Tahrir Square be premature?
There is no doubt that Morsi's election is momentous. Egypt will have its first civilian leader since Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Free Officers packed King Farouk off to Italy aboard the royal yacht, Mahroussa, in July 1952. That is reason to celebrate. The military-dominated system that replaced the corrupt, foreign-dominated monarchy may have featured the structures of a democratic polity with its parliament, constitution, and eventually political parties, but it was authoritarian to the core. Consequently, the emergence of a civilian leader would be an important sign of positive change. The fact that Morsi is a member of the Brotherhood (though he resigned after being declared the winner) is all the more astonishing and a sign that perhaps the old order is crumbling. Yet despite all the tension of the last week and the historic nature of Morsi's victory, in an odd way it seems a little too neat.