On 21 October I wrote “Thank you, Muslim Brothers”, as I reviewed the performance of the MB and that of their political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) since Mubarak
stepped down in the wake of the 25 January Revolution. I concluded that the manner in which the MB went about their business on the political scene in Egypt had seriously hurt their image and led Egyptians to fear for their future should the MB remain in power. The ‘thanks’ to the MB was because they had, through their resolute hegemony over the political scene and persistence in excluding all others, done the secular political forces a service which these forces had not been able to realise themselves. In stark comparison to the MB, the seculars were shown to be respectful of diversity, plurality, and human rights; and above exploiting religion to political ends.
Along the same line, Watani’s headline last Sunday read “Thank you Mursi: Democracy is absent and the judiciary out of service”. This was how Watani saw the outcome of the Constitutional Declaration announced by the presidency on Thursday 22 November, the surprise blow Mursi dealt to constitutional legitimacy and the judiciary in Egypt. The Declaration immunised Mursi’s decisions against being contested before courts of law or in any way.
It is self-evident that Watani was not thanking the President for his offensive against the judiciary or his curtailment of democracy. Watani was bitterly acknowledging the strike against legitimacy, and the usurpation of authorities in a manner unprecedented since July 1952 and until January 2011—a span of time during which Egypt was ruled by military figures. The President’s Constitutional Declaration added to the failing credit of the presidential establishment and its basic MB/FJP reference, and served to fling open the floodgates of fear and anger of Egypt’s full political spectrum—to the exclusion of the Islamists, of course. It was a horror attack. This was not the first time Egyptians wondered whether the President had taken the decision singlehanded or had consulted his aides. If he had consulted them, how is it possible that they were not aware of the rift in national ranks that such a decision was bound to cause? Could they not see that the President was drifting into a dictatorial course unprecedented in its harshness? Did they not sense the peril of a third clash between the presidency and the judiciary during a span of a mere five months since Mursi became President? Such and similar questions begged answers, and generated wrathful protest.
President Mursi apparently never thought about, nor did his aides advice him of the sensitivity of his position as a President for all Egyptians who, by virtue of this position, should never monopolise decisions. Wisdom calls for putting matters before the various leaders of national efforts and political forces in Egypt so that decisions should be taken based on national consensus. But it appears that the presidential establishment is missing the concept of coordination on the national level.
Even when President Mursi decided to explain the purpose behind the Constitutional Declaration, he did not speak from his office; neither did he go to the people in Cairo’s Tahrir Square whose rage was searing at what they saw as the unprecedented blow to democracy. Instead, he delivered his speech from a platform erected in front of the presidential palace in Heliopolis, east of Cairo, where thousands of MB followers had been mobilised to cheer and applaud all he says. Did he think that would make the scene in Tahrir vanish before Egypt or the world?
Egypt has entered a dark tunnel out of which no-one knows how or when she will emerge. Mursi’s lust for power has led him to add to his executive authority the legislative and the judicial authorities. But neither the judiciary, the political movements, nor the Egyptian street are able to swallow this. The floodgates of rejection and angry protest are now open; Egyptians have rushed back to Tahrir Square, and ear splitting cries of “Leave, leave!” and “The people desire the fall of the regime” are again heard.
So, again I say: Thank you, Muslim Brothers. The rush to monopolise power and exclude others is draining your body.
Thank you, Mursi. Your latest move has worked to unite the national front to save Egypt.
2 December 2012