Monday, November 26, 2012

Letters from Egypt: Tomorrow’s Significance

Tomorrow could be Egypt’s Second Revolution, but doubtful. And this is why.

Some of you may be wondering why protests are scheduled for Tuesday. The onset of the revolution that resulted in the ousting of the Mubarak regime took place on National Police Day, Tuesday, January 25, 2011. As international media have grown tired of the regular Friday demonstrations, what better way to get attention all the while hoping for the same results from nearly two years ago?

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) will not convene in Tahrir Square, as stated in yesterday’s blog. Instead the ruling group will meet in Downtown Cairo at Abdeen Square, approximately 1 km from Tahrir, which indicates a stronger position to break away from all that is associated with Tahrir (Liberation).

Yes, protests are taking place over Morsi (or Morsilini as he has been dubbed in reference to the Italian dictator Mussolini) commanding absolute control. Morsi claims that he will only take these powers for two months in order to establish Egypt’s constitution which has seen many delays including the disbandment of Parliament as well as the constitutional council suffering from boycotts like those from the church and other liberal organizations.

Naturally the international community is watching closely as the definition of a dictator is essentially in the decree Morsi made. It is rare within this continent – whether Egypt wants to align itself with Africa or the MidEast – to see any ruler (Mandela being the only one I can recall) relinquish power.

It is reported that the original Constitutional Assembly had agreed on 96% of the constitution, but was unable to come to a mutual decision on four policies that the MB-led assembly refused to negotiate. CNN ran the headline, “Morsy [sic] edict divides Egypt but unifies opponents, observers and critics say,” however, that’s not entirely true. There are some non-Islamists that are questioning if this is really a battle to fight. Someone told me, “We can’t move on without a constitution, why not give Morsi the time that he wants to establish this so that we can finally move forward?” This person is a dual passport holder of the US and Egypt, very liberal and yet fails to understand the repeated delays in the constitution. So the opposition might not be as numerous as some are anticipating – although I didn’t initially believe that January 25, 2011 would have had such numbers.

All non-Islamists parties withdrew from the Constitutional Assembly which was the largest group in Egypt’s constitutional history, coming in at 100 members. The Assembly was composed of 16 members representing the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), eight for the Salafist’s Nour Party, two for Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya’s Building and Development Party and one for the moderate Wasat Party. For more information on the major political parties, please see: How IlliterateEgypt Votes

The problem was that Islamists were representing the majority of the Assembly which would not allow for a majority opposition to thwart the potential of certain threats like sharia (Islamic law) or other actions – although such drastic integrations would probably not have been immediately implemented anyway. The remaining members represent only four parties, three of which are Islamist-oriented: the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), al-Nour Salafi party, the moderate Islamist al-Wasat party and the Civilization party. Previous Parliament speaker Mohamed Saad el-Katatni said, “We finally have a Constitutional Assembly that represents all factions of the Egyptian people.” Just because you throw in a Christian here and there, a liberal for one other seat and a young revolutionist next to that doesn’t mean other views are well represented.

It isn’t about getting the Christians more representation as it is about showing the majority of Egyptians – which are not Islamists. Such seats should be filled with other bright Egyptians including former presidential candidates like Nobel laureate El Baradei, maybe even Amr Moussa, Sabahy, etc.

Will tomorrow be interesting? Meh, I’m on the fence, but perhaps that’s because I, like many, have grown tired of the protest du jour. It isn’t that I don’t think this is actually one of the more valid protests, but as I stated about the AUCans protesting: the argument is negated when going about it in a manner that will undoubtedly consist of more rocks being thrown.

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