Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Egypt Transition Run Amok: Morsi Decree Sparks Huge Protests

Posted by vmsalama on November 23, 2012

by Vivian Salama

Nov 23, 2012

The Daily Beast (Click here for original link)

A day after being hailed for mediating the Israel-Hamas truce, Egypt’s president issued a decree giving himself sweeping powers—uniting the opposition and protesters against him. Vivian Salama on the fallout.

A decree from President Mohamed Morsi is sending shock waves across Egypt, driving hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on Friday back to Tahrir Square and other protest points across the country.

In a decision seen as disturbingly reminiscent of Egypt’s former status quo, Morsi issued a decree Thursday exempting all decisions made since he took office from legal challenge until a new parliament is elected. He also sacked the prosecutor general, an unpopular figure with many Egyptians, for failing to issue harsher sentences against Mubarak regime officials. Morsi also declared that the courts cannot dissolve the committee that is writing the country’s new constitution.

Crowds of protesters greeted the decree on Friday with chants of “Wake up, Morsi, it’s your last day,” and a familiar call from the earliest days of the revolution, “The people want the fall of the regime!” Secular leaders including Amr Moussa, Hamdeen Sabbahi, and Mohamed ElBaradei, once political opponents, marched arm in arm in solidarity through the throngs.  A Photoshopped image circulated on Facebook of Morsi in a Nazi uniform, raising his hand over the caption “Heil Morsi,” suggesting what protesters see as his desire to create a totalitarian state.

Demonstrations turned violent in a number of cities, including Cairo and Alexandria, and casualties were reported in al-Mahalla, Assiut, and Suez, where shouting matches between pro-and anti-Morsi protesters quickly escalated into clashes. Morsi opponents torched local branches of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi is a loyalist.

The latest upheaval threatens the very concept of reform in a region hungry for change. In the five months since a majority of Egyptian voters just barely elected their first post-revolution president, the Arab world’s most populous nation has been forced to come to terms with a transition seemingly running amok. In some ways, change has come quickly since the revolution’s beginning nearly two years ago. A civilian, Islamist president is in office, two firsts for this ancient society. Voters elected a new parliament, and then that parliament was dissolved. Military generals sought to thwart the transition, and then the generals were dismissed. State media, once gagged by Hosni Mubarak, found its voice—and then lost it once again. (more…)

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