Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Social media

Al-Ahram Weekly

One flag, two states

 

As the political crisis escalates over the constitution and the upcoming referendum on it, Egyptians have become divided over social networks — and not just as a people. On Facebook and twitter there are now two Egyptian states, one belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and the second owned by the rest of the Egyptian people.

 

In less than one week, President Mohamed Morsi issued two constitutional decrees. The first on Saturday following a meeting with a group of politicians and constitutionalists revoked the one issued on 22 November which sparked the crisis. The second increases taxes on several products and services including electricity. Thousands of Egyptians have expressed their rejection of the taves and the general state of confusion that the presidential decrees produced for an already troubled Egypt transition following last year’s revolution.

Medhat Salah said in his Facebook account that Egypt “is in state of chaos that could lead to civil war”. “The president is responsible for all of that; he is burning Egypt for nothing. Thanks for proving that we were wrong when we elected you.”

Mohamed Mamdouh agreed with Salah urging all Egyptians to vote “no” in Saturday’s referendum in order to defeat the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and “their president”.

“The only game the MB could play is the election. If we could defeat them in the coming referendum, it could be an end to the crisis,” Mamdouh said.

On the other side Amr Hassan said he was supporting the presidential decrees, saying that they aim at preserving the legitimacy of the “Egyptian people’s will” when they elected Morsi.

“Egypt needs a strong president like Morsi. People like [activists] Mohamed Al-Baradei and Hamdeen Sabahi only want the country to be in a state of disorder and to sabotage our national security.

Mahmoud Adel believes that the “Islamists are inevitably coming” to “defeat” what he called the “anarchists” who want to make Egypt a Western country and servant of the United States and EU. 

Military trials are back

 

The debate about the draft constitution and the upcoming referendum continues. We will probably still be unable to decide whether to boycott the plebiscite or go the ballot box and say “no” until the very last day or hour or minute.

 

And things are accelerating in Egypt in a way which cannot be believed. Presidential decrees keep pouring down our heads. President Morsi, in his latest edict, granted army officers the judicial authority to arrest people from now till the planned referendum, according to an official statement. In other words, army officers can arrest civilians up until the results of the referendum are announced.

But why does Morsi need the military to secure the electoral process?

If the security situation in Egypt is so horrible that you need the army to safeguard the referendum, why don’t you wait? Please do not answer by saying that “the president cannot violate the March 2011 constitutional declaration.”

This is a setback for human rights in Egypt. The former ruler of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) tried to grant military police the authority to arrest in early 2012. At that time Morsi, who was not yet president and headed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, opposed the decision but now approves it.

One trivia piece of information: the draft constitution of 1954 did not have this article.

President Morsi who holds legislative authority announced a sweeping increase in sales taxes and stamp duties on a wide range of consumer goods and services. He also amended Egypt’s income and property tax laws in the biggest austerity measures since January 1977. Of course, we should remember the infamous uprising of that year in Egypt, when Anwar Al-Sadat was president, which resulted from similar decisions.

Increasing taxes will make things tougher for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood at this particular time. The middle class will oppose the MB even more whether through the ballot box or in protests that can turn into uprisings.

Pakinam Al-Sharkawi, Morsi’s aide for political issues, denied in a TV interview any prior knowledge about the increase of taxes because they are economic decisions. “Amazingly almost all of his advisors and aides knew nothing about it.”

Of course as a political science professor, Al-Sharkawi knows the impact of such an increase, especially when the economy is shaky. She is against the increase but should tell that to her boss, not us.

tweets

“Egypt protests today are much larger than what Mubarak faced. President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have reached a new level of unprecedented dictatorship.” @Ahmed Sarhan

 

“The president wrongly asserted constitutional powers three times, but now he says he cannot legally amend the date of the referendum.” @Bassem Sabry

“Once again, altogether now: the Military and the Muslim Brotherhood are one hand.” @ Mona Eltahawy

“Clever move by President Morsi; he drops a decree which gave him special powers — but had it already served its purpose?” @Wyre Davies

“We thought may be the president did not hear us, so we came to your Palace saying that this is a last warning.” @Wael Nawara

“Al-Baradei speech was direct, simple, compelling. He spoke in colloquial Arabic and sounded, well, finally, presidential.” @Barbara Ibrahim

“Everyone should know that we are Egyptians first and last and will always be and we are all brothers.”

@Iyad El-Baghdadi

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