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March 10, 2013

Morsi: Defending the indefensible

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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President Mohamed Morsi used his last Sunday two hour long TV interview to defend his first seven month record. But he failed with flying colors.

First, the prerecorded interview was aired at 2 am Monday morning after a six-hour delay when the vast majority of Egyptians, including those who were not expecting Morsi to say anything of value, have long gone to bed.

The rumors were that the delay was due to the Supreme Guidance of the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr. Mohamed Badi’ was reviewing the interview and heavily editing it with the help of his senior deputy, Khiarat Al Shatter.

If Morsi was hoping to assure Egyptians that they should trust his leadership to lead Egypt during the next four years based on his past performance, he for sure did not enhance that trust one bit.

The real problem, which Morsi does not apparently recognize is this: most Egyptians are poor but are not stupid.

Morsi reiterated that the Muslim Brotherhood has never intervened in his work although many reports, even from Morsi supporter the Salafis' Noor party and his ex-aides like Dr. Khalid Alameldeen, of that party had pointed out to the contrary. No Egyptian, including members of the MB believes the president when he says that the MB does not intervene in his work. The only difference is that members of the MB may say it differently: off course we give the president “advice” according to the Qur’an and the Prophet's tradition, but we do not intervene.

During the interview Morsi kept repeating that he is “president for all Egyptians” which is another lie because it is a fact that he favored members of the MB in all the appointments he had made in his office, media, courts, government, police and army.

Morsi also defended the performance of his government and his PM Dr. Hisham Qandil. “Mr. President, the government has caused a big problem declaring that a citizen’s quota of bread would stand at only three loaves,” Morsi was asked. Morsi simply replied that this is “untrue” and that “bread is available and anybody can take the amount he needs.”

Morsi said contrary to the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak he consults with groups of various political stripes before taking any decision. This was an inaccurate statement as Morsi only chats with some opposition leaders upon his invitation now and then but soon after he does completely the opposite and negates his promises.

Examples are plenty starting with the process of writing the new constitution and ending with his recent call for Egyptians to vote for a new parliament in April although the election law and the election process both give advantage to the MB. In protest the vast majority of the political parties decided that they will boycott the coming elections.

Morsi said he will not allow the return of the Mubarak’s police state ignoring the fact that some 100 protesters have been killed in his first seven months in office, thousands have been injured, and there are many well documented cases of torture.  During the interview he called protesters “thugs,” and occasionally he waved a threatening finger during the interview saying he would “never be lenient” with “thugs who have been trying to divert the Egyptian revolution.”

Morsi said that the current civil disobedience in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, which has hindered activities at several state institutions and businesses, is an act of “thuggery.”

But Morsi never in the interview called it an act of “thuggery” the protest by his Islamist supporters which besieged the Supreme Constitutional Court last December. Morsi’s supporters protested outside the court when it was considering legal challenges demanding the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly and Shura Council.

The interviewer asked Morsi why he imposed a state of emergency on the Suez Canal cities of Ismailia, Port Said, and Suez last month. “They [the citizens of those cities] asked for it. I had to do it,” was his reply.

But in an act of defiance, the people in Port Said are now leading the country in an act of civil disobedience that may spread to the rest of Egypt. The police in a wise move withdrew from the city streets and the army never intervened although there is a state of emergency still imposed on the city by Morsi. This is an indication that the army has decided to side with the people not with Morsi - this may explain the recent tension between Morsi and Army General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

“You had promised in an earlier interview to step down if the people call for it,” Amr Leithy, the TV host asked Morsi at the end of the interview. “I am a president for four years according to the Constitution,” was Morsi’s reply.

But I do not think that Egypt can survive four years of Morsi.

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