Al-Ahram Weekly Online   18 - 24 October 2012
Issue No. 1119
Press review
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Bits of shrapnel

Newspapers followed up the repercussions of President Mohamed Morsi's decision to appoint Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud as Egypt's ambassador to the Vatican, then backtrack, together with the violence in Tahrir Square on Friday.

Al-Shorouk on Tuesday called the Tahrir incident the 'Battle of Tahrir' and stated that collective complaints against the MB were presented because of the incident. Al-Wafd on Monday wrote 'Uprising against Brotherhood after Tahrir incident.'

Al-Ahram on Monday had 'New legislation to incriminate, sabotage and delay work', Al-Masry Al-Youm on Sunday wrote 'Morsi retreats and prosecutor general wins', and Al-Akhbar on Sunday said 'prosecutor general stays in office and Morsi cancels decision to appoint him ambassador'.

Osama Al-Ghazali Harb looked at the quick and exciting events that Egypt witnessed during the weekend prompted by the acquittal of all the accused in the 'Battle of the Camel'.

Harb did not regard the sentence as unexpected because the perpetrators were not tried according to revolutionary justice but to legal justice that is governed by tangible evidence. The judge did not find enough evidence to indict them.

However, Harb pointed to few pieces of shrapnel in the sentence, namely President Morsi's decision to appoint the Prosecutor-General Mahmoud as the ambassador to the Vatican, which was regarded as a political game to topple an inseparable part of the judicial authority. Mahmoud, seen as belonging to the Hosni Mubarak era, was tasked with gathering evidence in the camel trial. Some say his efforts were flimsy, leading to verdicts of innocence and violence by protesters seeking justice.

But when Morsi tried to effectively fire Mahmoud, he fought back and decided to stay on. The standoff eventually forced Morsi to back down.

Thus, Harb added, it was totally logical for judges to regard the decision as an encroachment on the judicial authority and to oppose it.

On the other hand, the popular scene was rather tumultuous. The acquittal together with other matters prompted some political forces to call for protests to question the president and look to his performance in the first 100 days.

But Essam Al-Erian did not like the idea of questioning the president and called on the young Muslim Brotherhood members to protest in Tahrir Square.

Harb regarded what happened in Tahrir as a sorry scene when a group of thugs violently brought down the podium built by the civil parties and shouted 'freedom, justice, we back you Morsi'.

Although Erian denied the MB was responsible, "if the MB wants to prove that it is innocent, it should conduct an investigation in this act of thuggery and sabotage that presents a major encroachment on freedom of expression," Harb wrote in the official daily Al-Ahram.

Fawzi Mekheimar saw the scene in another perspective. He pointed to the fact that the government and president are working under the pressure of protests, rumours and intensive demands that no government can meet at the same time.

Amid this discouraging atmosphere, and the government attempt to improve the economy and boost tourism, Mekheimar wrote, a group which called itself 'the popular current' organised the Tahrir demonstration.

"If they were a genuine popular current, they would have felt the suffering of the people and refrained from protesting. But they protested to send a message to the world that Egypt is still far from being stable," Mekheimar wrote in the official daily Al-Akhbar.

These protests and sit-ins, he added, give a bad impression about Egypt. Tahrir Square was about to return to normal and welcome tourists who want to visit it.

Al-Masry Al-Youm writer who uses the pen name Newton wrote that the regime, without argument, faced two crises this week, one of them doubled.

The first was the incident of the prosecutor general in which the president was forced to withdraw a public decision which left him and his entourage in isolation. The second is the MB attack on protesters from other currents.

The way out, Newton wrote, is easy but complicated. It should start with a quick response to all the demands ahead of next Friday's million-man march and a genuine change that should start by a governmental reshuffle and appointing technocrat ministers who have an economic background. The prime minister should also have an economic background.

In the second step, as Newton continues, Morsi should try to find a legal way to reform the constituent committee before the court issues a sentence to make it void. That step should be followed by the process of drafting the constitution.

In the third step, the writer elaborated, Morsi should change some of his consultants, to include Copts, women and economists and make it more representative of the various currents. He should hold a monthly meeting for them and give them some guidelines so that we would not find one of them saying that the Camp David Accords should be amended and another stating that Egypt must take part in an Arab military operation in Syria.

These steps are not ambitious and should be taken now. "The president was pushed into the crisis by his aides, ministers and supporters. Delaying solutions or refraining from reaching decisive solutions would create political complications that would affect the new regime as a whole," Newton wrote.

Abbas Al-Tarabili expressed his belief that the president's consultants, be they from inside or outside the MB, are deluding him either intentionally or unintentionally.

While the writer expressed his sympathy with the president, he held him responsible for the decisions he takes because he takes them quickly and without enough deliberation.

However, Al-Tarabili regarded the most dangerous decision was his decision to try to return the disbanded parliament and the shocking decision to appoint the prosecutor general as Egypt's ambassador to the Vatican.

Al-Tarabili wondered whether this decision was taken to appease the people who were angry because of the acquittal of all the perpetrators of the 'Battle of the Camel' or to cover up for Morsi's failure to deliver during the first 100 days.

Al-Tarabili also wondered whether Morsi is a victim of a conspiracy from the MB to topple him and leave his position for somebody else who they believe is more capable of assuming the position.

"The president's decisions so far are passing through an embarrassing phase. People will tend not to believe his future decisions because they lost credibility," Al-Tarabili wrote in Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of the opposition Wafd Party.

Al-Tarabili concluded by calling on Morsi to sack all the consultants who gave him bad advice in order to restore the credibility of the presidential decision.

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