Tens of thousands of Islamists, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, rallied on Saturday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and outside Cairo University in support of President Mohamed Morsi’s expanded powers and the constitution he is rushing to promote.
The supporters called their rally the March for Legitimacy and Sharia. Demonstrators carried banners that read: “The people want the implementation of God’s law”; “The Muslim Brotherhood supports President Morsi’s decisions”; “Yes to stability”; and “No to corruption.” Supporters of the president staged similar rallies in Alexandria and Assiut.
Morsi is expected later Saturday to ratify the new constitution, one day after it was hastily approved by an Islamist-dominated drafting assembly, and to set a date for a referendum on it within 15 days. On Friday, thousands of Morsi’s opponents converged on Tahrir Square to protest against the president’s decree and the speedy adoption of the draft constitution.
Opponents chanted, “The people want the downfall of the regime,” the rallying call of protesters during the revolution that led to the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
In an interview with Time magazine published Thursday, Morsi said he intends to give up his new powers once a national constitution is written. The president dismissed criticism of his power grab, saying Egypt was in a “transitional period” of democracy and that he was encouraged to see signs of opposition.
“We’re learning,” he said. “We’re learning how to be free. We haven’t seen this before. We’re learning how to debate, how to differ, how to be majority and minority.”
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has warned Morsi that the decree expanding his powers would put him beyond the law and open the door to human rights violations. Pillay sent a letter to Morsi urging him to reconsider last week’s decree and warning that “approving a constitution in these circumstances could be deeply divisive,” Reuters reported.
Also Thursday, the director of Human Rights Watch in Egypt, Heba Morayef, stressed that Articles 44 and 31 in Egypt’s new draft constitution violate freedom of expression, as they prohibit insulting both the human and prophets.
In addition, the draft constitution contains only one reference to women, in Article 10, in which it details the role that the state should have in maintaining the true nature of the Egyptian family.
Earlier, Sen. John McCain told the Wall Street Journal that the Obama administration should threaten to withhold financial aid from Egypt unless President Morsi responds to opposition demands to rescind the controversial decree.
“This is not acceptable; this is not what US taxpayers expect from Egypt, and our dollars should be directly related to the progress of democracy, which President Morsi promised at the start of his term,” McCain said.
Let me remind you of the events in Algeria when Islamists won the elections in 1991, and in January 1992 the government canceled the elections and the army intervened to protect democracy. Obviously, we all remember that war, which lasted 10 years and aimed to protect the Algerian state from losing its identity and becoming like Somalia.
Hence, here I blame the Egyptian army, which was ruling Egypt after Mubarak’s fall. It knows very well that Islamists, whatever their intentions, will never be able to rule Egypt.
The governing principle in Egypt is, No religion in politics, and no politics in religion. This is what the Islamists do not accept. As much as Morsi resists being described a new pharaoh ruling Egypt, his actions support and confirm this epithet. Of course, the Egyptian people have realized that it is not Morsi who is ruling Egypt but rather the Muslim Brotherhood.
Therefore, as long as Morsi is determined to hold the upper hand, my expectation is of either a military coup or a new spring starting this December in Egypt. The Egyptian people should have preserved their revolution and should have been aware that the Muslim Brotherhood came to leadership as revenge for all the governments that ruled Egypt since the revolution of July 1952. All these governments knew that the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood is not Egyptian.
The weird part is that the new Egyptian constitution is fully compatible with Morsi’s resolutions. At the same time, whoever reads the constitution accurately will know that it is the death certificate for the era of democracy, witnessed by Egypt years ago…