It has been widely reported that Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Egypt and a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has claimed new and extensive powers, doing so, it has been stated, in response to impasse of Egypt’s Second Constituent Assembly and to persistent street violence. An English language version of Morsi’s Constitutional Declaration can be found here. His subsequent explanation for his deed: “He told… [his followers] he was leading Egypt on a path to ‘freedom and democracy’ and was the guardian of stability.” We should interpret his actions while remembering that coups affirm neither democracy nor stability. They do, however, affirm the coercive power of the state.
Morsi’s auto-golpe will replace the rule of law with rule by decree and, to be sure, Egypt’s transition to democratic governance with a putatively limited dictatorship. Obviously, secularists and those groups who wish for or need social and political pluralism fear the instauration of a constituent dictatorship serving the interests of Egypt’s Islamists or the sectarian interests of the Freedom and Justice Party. Some have already taken their opposition to Morsi’s recent coup to the street. We should recall here that Egypt’s revolution originated in a divided society and that Morsi gained the Presidency with a thin victory margin in a runoff election. He has, at best, only weak popular support, although we might suspect that the recently purged Egyptian Armed Forces affirmed the November 22 coup. So far, the United States has only faintly criticized the coup.
Situations like this can end badly, as recent history has so often demonstrated.
- A dictator’s birth (atung.net)
- Protests erupt across Egypt after presidential decree (guardian.co.uk)
- Protests rock Egypt after Morsi seizes sweeping new powers (jpost.com)
- Morsy’s ‘power grab’ sparks protests (thehindu.com)
- Protests Erupt After Egypt’s Leader Seizes New Power (nytimes.com)
- Egyptian Fury Over Morsi ‘Coup’, Protests Called For Friday (eurasiareview.com)
- Clashes in Egypt as Morsi defends new powers (salon.com)
- Morsi Says He Does Not Want Sole Control of Egypt (voanews.com)
- Outrage follows Egypt’s presidential decrees (cbc.ca)
- Protests Erupt in Egypt as Morsi Claims Wide-Ranging Powers (blogs.the-american-interest.com)