Morsi, Egypt, and the Difficulty of Transition
In continuing to present items of international importance for followers of The Common Good, here are a few key news and analysis items about the current situation in Egypt, with a new President facing off with the Supreme Court and news-media while the assembly tries to draft a constitution.
NEW YORK TIMES, David Kirkpatrick (12/04) – Eleven newspapers stopped publication Tuesday to protest new limits on freedom of expression, and at least three private television networks said they would not broadcast on Wednesday.
COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS (12/03) — Judges in Egypt have refused to oversee a vote (AlJazeera) on the country’s new draft constitution that will be held in two weeks as tensions heighten between Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court and supporters of President Mohammed Morsi. Several hundred Morsi supporters protested (Guardian)outside the court on Sunday ahead of a session expected to examine the legality of parliament’s upper house and the assembly that drafted a new constitution. The incidents cast a legal shadow over Morsi’s efforts to navigate a crisis sparked by a November 22 decree that expanded his powers and led to nationwide protests against him and his Muslim Brotherhood group. [read more at council on foreign relations]
NEWSWEEK, Vivian Salama (12/03) – On Nov. 22, as Americans sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, Egypt’s first post-revolution president, Mohamed Morsi, issued a decree exempting all of his decisions from legal challenge. The move was a stunning power grab that quickly earned him the nickname “Egypt’s new pharaoh”—a title once bestowed upon his defunct predecessor. Hundreds of thousands of disbelieving Egyptians flooded city streets from Alexandria to Aswan with a familiar cry: “The people want the fall of the regime!” Tahrir Square came alive once again with tents and bullhorns and a howl so loud—so impassioned—that it was dubbed the “19th Day” of last year’s revolution. Angry female protesters returned in masses to Tahrir, resilient after months of deteriorating security that included repeated incidents of harassment and sexual assault.
[...] Less than two years after Egyptians earned their first taste of democracy, the country once again has a president with near-absolute power and no constitution to dictate otherwise (the decree was ironically introduced as a “constitutional declaration”). There is no Parliament, since the military generals dissolved it in June. Then the generals were replaced by Brotherhood loyalists—as were the heads of most state-run media organizations. [read more at newsweek / daily beast]
NY TIMES, David D. Kirkpatrick, (12/02) — Egypt’s constitutional court on Sunday put off its much-awaited ruling on the legitimacy of the Islamist-led legislative assembly that drafted a new charter last week, accusing a crowd of Islamists outside the courthouse of intimidating its judges.
What actually took place at the courthouse, however, is a matter of dispute.
Calling Sunday “a dark black day in the history of the Egyptian judiciary,” the Supreme Constitutional Court charged in a statement that a mob of Islamists had blocked the judges from entering the courthouse, in an “abhorrent scene of shame and disgrace.” [...]
While the judges blamed the Islamists, the Islamists accused the judges of manufacturing a melodramatic excuse for failing to show up. And the contradictory narratives captured a clash between the judges — appointed by Hosni Mubarak, the former president — and Egypt’s new Islamist leaders that has thrown the political transition into a new crisis 22 months after Mr. Mubarak’s ouster. [read more at nytimes.com]
TIME, Richard Stengel, Bobby Ghosh and Karl Vick (11/28) — Extensive in-person interview with Egypt’s President Morsi by the staff of Time Magazine. [read more at time.com]