On Thursday, Morsi issued a new constitutional declaration to expand his powers. The decree opens the way for the retrials of officials involved in the clampdown on popular protests that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. It also bars courts from challenging Morsi’s decisions.
An interview with Khaled el-Shami, an editor of al-Quds al-Arabi, from London, to further discuss the issue. El-Shami is joined by Dr. Ashraf el-Bayoumi, a university professor and independent analyst from Cairo, and Abdullah al-Ashaal, a former presidential candidate from Cairo.
Q: Do you agree with [previous guest speaker] Abdullah al-Ashaal?
El-Shami: No, I totally disagree with everything he said. It’s really sad to hear some people who used to criticize Mubarak for his authoritarian regime, and are now defending a new dictator being born in Egypt.
I want to say this is a very sad day for Egypt, a very sad day for the revolution and the martyrs. Egypt is entering a dark tunnel in which polarization is deepening, and instability is going to escalate.
A few minutes ago, thousands of judges have decided to go on strike, protesting the abolishing of the judiciary authority that’s traditionally highly respected and independent in Egypt even under the dictatorship of Mubarak and others. Judges have made verdicts against the will of the regime at that time.
What happened in Egypt in the last 48 hours is unprecedented. Since the pharaohs time, no head of state has abolished the judiciary system and the rights of the people of Egypt to go to court against the regime, if they wanted.
For the judges to go on strike, you’re talking about the state of Egypt being paralyzed. You’re talking about provoking even more public anger.
Egypt is already divided by this president who cannot differentiate between being a leader of a Muslim Brotherhood and the leader of the people of Egypt. That’s why he went to speak to his own people only yesterday who are supporting him, while he was expected to address the people of Egypt to at least try to explain these decisions.
I am afraid that we are going to see more violence. We are going to see more bloodshed. Egypt now has been hijacked by someone who we hoped would achieve the goals of the revolution, but he ended up taking a huge gamble that Egypt would come out, at any scenario it would come out a loser.
Q: Again I see you shaking your head, go ahead in response to Mr. Abdullah al-Ashaal.
El-Shami: I’m afraid what we just heard now is the same excuses the Mubarak regime was using to oppress the opposition for many years. Dr. Ashal would know that I personally have defended the Muslim Brotherhood when they were victims of the Mubarak oppression and I would do the same thing if time goes back. Unfortunately, this is misleading to the people of Egypt.
It is true that Mr. Morsi is elected but he is only elected to be the head of the executive branch of the state. He is not elected to take over all other establishments and authorities including the judiciary system.
Yet, I agree with something he said earlier, that he did not keep his promises. Actually, he did not keep his promises. One of his promises was that he was going to be disbanding the assembly for the constitution and reform it in a way that’s balanced and acceptable to the whole people of Egypt.
Instead, he has done the very opposite which is shielding this assembly that’s going to be writing the Egyptian constitution, shielding this assembly from any review by the judiciary.
So, it’s going to write the constitution that only the Muslim Brotherhood and some Salafis that would support the ideal recipe for dividing Egypt and initiating a civil war.
This is a man who never kept his promises. This is a man who has betrayed the people who elected him, who has betrayed when he swore to maintain the system, the regime. He actually should be gaining all the establishments... to accommodate them.