Sunday, November 25, 2012

Protests In Egypt Over Presidential Decree

Domestic Policy

An article in The Jerusalem Post says that Egyptians took to the streets to protest President Morsi's decree, which grant him unprecedented powers that many say are reminders of the previous autocratic government. The protests, which have gone on for three days, has divided the nation.
Youths clashed with police in Cairo on Saturday as protests at new powers assumed by President Mohamed Morsi stretched into a second day, confronting Egypt with a crisis that has exposed the split between newly empowered Islamists and their opponents. A handful of hardcore activists hurling rocks battled riot police in the streets near Tahrir Square, where several thousand protesters massed on Friday to demonstrate against a decree that has rallied opposition ranks against Morsi. 
Following a day of violence in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez, the smell of teargas hung over the square, the heart of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011.
More than 300 people were injured on Friday. Offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled Morsi to power, were attacked in at least three cities. Egypt's highest judicial authority said the decree marked an "unprecedented attack" on the independence of the judiciary, the state news agency reported. Judges in the Egyptian city of Alexandria decided to go on strike on Saturday in protest of Morsi's decree, the state news agency reported. The judges' club in Alexandria said work would be suspended in all courts and prosecution offices until the decree was reversed, the agency reported.
This comes so soon after President Morsi's successful brokering of a mideast truce between Israel and Hamas. This shows, among other things, that a victory on the international stage, no matter how great, has little effect on domestic matters. All governments, ultimately, succeed and fail by what they do for their citizens.

In many ways this is a battle between the old regime and the new one, between the political Islamists and  the secularists, and among the various factions trying to get some say in the drafting of Egypt's new constitution. It is also about dueling legitimacies, and a natural and normal result of a nation undergoing transformation to a constitutional democracy after a long history being otherwise. No one says democracy is without its messiness, rancor and rhetoric.

Egypt is no exception, and Morsi, who seems like a pragmatic leader, might have to retract his decree, or at least those parts of it that bypass the judiciary. The international community is watching with great interest. These are important times, and what takes place in the next few days, and weeks, will tell us much about which direction Egypt is heading.

You can read the rest of the article at [JPost]


  1. Among the powers Morsi has called for is the ability to ask for a new trial for Hosni Mubarak. I suspect that one of the reasons Mubarak was so hated by so many Egyptians was that he outlawed female genital mutilation.

    1. FGM is hardly an important constitutional issue, except for the few religious Islamists who advocate its practice. Mubarak was hated for many reasons, most notably for being a dictator and limiting freedoms—hardly a recipe for popularity.

      Even so, there are more urgent concerns that its citizens face daily, including high unemployment and poverty; it might be that its citizens want to desperately get out from under such a pressing situation and become a constitutional democracy where their rights are represented.


Comment Policy:

All comments will be moderated; and bear in mind that anonymous, hostile, vulgar and off-topic comments will not be published. Thoughtful, reasonable and clear comments, bearing your real name, will be. All comments must be in English.