Egypt two years after the Revolution: Morsi’s inadequacy and an uncertain future by Despina Boutselakou

MorsiWhen Mubarak announced his resignation on 11th February 2011, Egyptians burst into tears and celebrations took place around the country hoping for a new era in politics to come. However, two years after Mubarak was toppled, news is not encouraging as the revolutionary aspirations remain elusive and the hope for a better future is being threatened by Mohamed Morsi’s administration. Social cohesion is in danger and the country is falling apart. Morsi seems to be inadequate to carry Egypt’s history and long standing presence in the Arab and global politics, and inexperienced to lead the country to a new era of prosperity, peace and security.

Egyptian disappointment led to a fragmented society, and fragmentation resulted in continual unrest and clashes between supporters and opponents of Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi’s administration. While supporters of Morsi claim that the current government is representative and responsive to the will of the majority of the population, opposition groups support that Morsi himself and the Muslim Brotherhood kidnapped the youth revolution due to the lack of organisation and the absence of a leader. Furthermore, Morsi’s decision to gather legislative and executive power in his own hands and to give himself the right to choose the writers of the constitution brought back memories of the old regime and he was accused of a “dictatorial” policy. Opposition was expecting more by the Constitution proved on 25th of December, and the existence of ambivalent articles about ,for example, the freedom of speech and the religious minorities raised concerns. . As a consequence, the second anniversary of the Mubarak overthrow was accompanied by anti-government riots and upheaval. Despite the fact that the Egyptian president realises that the condition is getting out of control, he stated in his interview with the “TIME” magazine that those clashes represent an expression of freedom as everyone is free to express their opposition but he considers himself as the only responsible for the future and the development of the country.

Muslim Brotherhood is over-confident of the power of their supporters due to their well organised network. Besides it was that organisation which helped them to climb to power. As Eric Trager wrote in his article “Shame on Anyone Who Ever Thought Mohammad Morsi Was a Moderate”, the group believes that “it can mobilize its legions of foot soldiers to win any street battle domestically”. Morsi is of the opinion that he enjoys the majority’s support, however, late reports indicate that Muslim Brotherhood is losing its popularity as elections of the Journalist Syndicate and the nationwide student union of Egyptian universities declared. More specifically in the Syndicate’s case, it is noticeable that the votes were mainly against the Brotherhood candidates in spite of the belief that the outgoing chairman is affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood. What is more, a significant decline in the votes for Muslim Brotherhood was observed in the results of the student elections. In both cases disapproval of Morsi’s administration is reflected and it is also considered as a sign of the general disappointment in the society.

Egyptian government and presidency have been faced with the anger of the protesters who claim that the governors have failed to fulfil the pre-revolution demands and goals. The record to date is disappointing; no radical amendments and improvements in the socio-economic issues. Economy, despite Morsi’s promises for the “renaissance project”, demonstrates no signs of progress in crucial economic issues; high inflation, dropping Egyptian pound and unemployment at thirteen percent. The government announced the 2013/14 socio-economic plan, according to which growth is estimated to reach at 4.1 percent, however, since the revitalisation plan is based on private investment, outside assistance and tourism, government should had confronted the severe challenges of social injustice and insecurity.  The aspect of an insecure economic and social environment complicates the lure of investors and tourists. What is more, continual unrest and insufficient security measures have raised the rate of sexual harassment and assault in Morsi’s Egypt. According to Azza Kamel, head of Appropriate Communication Techniques (ACT) Center for Development, despite the fact that there are no accurate statistics about Egypt’s case, it is estimated that two out of three women have experienced sexual harassment. Furthermore, data for religious minorities are not good either; more than 100,000 Coptic Christians have fled from the country and Muslim sects’ rights, such as Bahais and Shiites, are not even mentioned in the Constitution. As far as freedom of speech is concerned, the regime’s tendency to intervene in journalists’ expression right was criticised by Ibrahim Nawar, head of Arab Press Freedom Watch. The new Constitution has created concerns since new constraints have been imposed on media. For instance, the “insulting of prophets” will be criminalised, journalists will be prosecuted for “defamation”, Egypt’s Higher Council for Journalism will be replaced  by an elected body and, moreover, the ‘National Press and Media Association’  will be created, about which is not mentioned in what way its members will be chosen. What is more, Morsi has appointed the editors in the largest newspapers; al-Ahram, al-Gomhoriya and al-Akhbar. It is more than obvious that a well organised attempt targeting the media control is taking place.

The question posed is whether Egypt can survive from this long-standing crisis and how Egyptians could win the struggle for freedom. Morsi in his interview with the “TIME” magazine repeated many times the phrase “Egypt is moving, we are moving, we are learning”. Egypt in such a crucial moment of its history needs a leader who has complete awareness of his actions and governors who are well experienced in complicated and demanding political and social needs. Although he stated that the transitional period the country is experiencing is tough but not violent, many violent incidents took place lately and the most recent one was against the Syrian actress, Raghda, who was attacked while attending a cultural event at Cairo’s Opera House because she was accused of prejudice against Egyptians in one of her poems. Unfortunately, despite Morsi’s inadequacy, there is no strong and united opposition in the country to put pressure on his policy. Opposition groups are fragmented and without organisation. Given that Egypt is dependent on Unites States’ economic aid, international community should impose stricter prerequisites for provision of aid and pose a dilemma on Morsi; either abides by international norms or aid will be cut. Furthermore, pressure should be put on Morsi in order to open an improved dialogue with opposition groups and religious minorities. Egyptian nation sought for freedom, blood was shed and it is highly possible that the country will result in a civil war with dramatic developments, if the administration will not take into consideration that when Egyptians started the revolution, they sought for better prospects and not for a worse Mubarak-style regime under Morsi’s presidency.

Ms. Despoina Boutselakou holds a Master’s Degree in Middle East
and Mediterranean Studies from King’s College London.

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