Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt may have only had a 51% majority in last year's election, but by all accounts it was a fair a free election, and with such a high turn-out it gave him the kind of democratic mandate that many politicians in the West would envy. At the time it was hailed as something of a triumph of democracy - the people had spoken - a military dictator was overthrown in a largely bloodless revolution and for the first time in that country's history Egyptians had the opportunity to choose their leaders. Well, the people have spoken again. They've taken to the streets in their millions to vent dissatisfaction with Mr Morsi's government; the army has taken charge and Mohammed Morsi and many of his party are now in prison. All this, we are told, is in the name of democracy. Is it ever acceptable to support the military overthrow of a democratically elected government? Is democracy always an absolute good and no matter how unpalatable, and to some the Islamist policies of the Muslim Brotherhood were very unpalatable, we should always stand by the result? Is democracy a morally unambiguous value? Should we always be on the sides of the masses regardless of the consequences to them and our national interests? Or is that debating club naivety? Is democracy only ever the means to an end and the only moral imperative for us in the West should be to always safeguard our interests? Is the reality that the last thing a volatile region like the Middle East needs is a religiously fuelled government and in the wider interest and our national interest, we should support the coup. And however contradictory it sounds is it right to see this coup as part of a democratic process and in this case the ends, of establishing a stable democratic government, justify the means? Or is that in fact thinly veiled anti-Islamic prejudice that is the start of a slippery slope that leads to Western interventionism? Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Matthew Taylor. Witnesses: Mamoun Fandy- Director of London Global Strategy Institute, Dr Maha Azzam- Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Rachel Shabi- author Not the Enemy: Israel's Jews from Arab Lands written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East, Con Coughlin - international terrorism expert and defence editor Daily Telegraph.

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Sat 13 Jul 2013 22:15