(Initially published on Hoqook News Networks website on Friday, December 14, 2012 ; the following article was edited on August 15, 2015, in view of clarity.)
Few tips explaining Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy to motivate their supporters in joining Friday [December 14, 2012] marches.
On last December 9, 2012, Vice-President Mahmoud Mekki and renowned lawyer Dr. Mohamed Salim Al-Awa held a meeting, announcing controversial President’s Constitutional Declaration of November 22, 2012, would be replaced, and calling their members to rally « the march of the revolution » on Friday 14, to support the president’s legitimacy.
The purpose of Morsi’s controversial presidential declaration
The contested declaration provided President Mohamed Morsi with enlarged prerogatives in the legislative field, and to avoid any judicial action against it, the Presidential Declaration itself was immunized. Thanks to it, Morsi managed to give himself and the government the time needed to pass the draft of the Constitution and overcome the different threats hanging over the Constituent Assembly in charge of its redaction. The Assembly was believed to be the target of an upcoming dissolution by the Supreme Court.
At the meeting, Mekki justified the immunity as a way “to give the people a chance to vote on the referendum”. Then he added that as the immunization had done its purpose, it « has now expired”. As planned, the new Constitution’s referendum is still set to take place on December 15, 2012. Morsi even promised a new Constituent Assembly if the constitution is voted down. An very unlikely eventuality, according to most Egypt experts.
A legislative tool in the president’s hands : Another chapter to MB’s struggle against Judiciary
In their public announcement, Mekki and Dr. Al-Awa said « all actions resulting from the repealed President’s Constitutional Declaration” would not be withdrawn. Whereas some declared Morsi had made compromises, the president did not cancel the appointment of a new Public Prosecutor.
Whatsmore, Mekki stated that the Supreme Elections Committee was ready to supervise the referendum, as the Supreme Court has not informed the government on whether they would do it or not yet. The Vice-President added that “honorable judges will not let down their homeland, that they are the most determined not to be an obstacle in the way of national stability, and that the number of judges agreeing to oversee the referendum process is more than what is required for effective management and supervision.”
Today, judges reacted saying that most of them wouldn’t oversee the referendum process. More than 90% of judges reject to conduct the referendum, Egypt Judges Club Chairman Counselor Ahmad al-Zind told Al Arabiya newspaper. British journalist Bel Trew reporting that “Apparently out of 19 regional judges clubs, 14 say they’re boycotting constitution referendum.” Hence, the possibility for the referendum to be overseen by a non-affiliated and non-political body may be discussed .
Demonstrating « in support of legitimacy, [the president and the] rule of law”
Two « one million march” were planned to occur today. The Islamic Coalition further called on all Egyptians to join two million-man marches and rallies today, entitled ‘Yes To Legitimacy’.
“Massive rallies outside Rabaa Al-Adawiyyah Mosque, and Al Rashdan Mosque in Nasr City, Cairo, in support of legitimacy, [the president and the] rule of law”, reads MB’s official twitter account.
Morsi was the first president to be elected by the Egyptians. Some irregularities were observed during the voting process. In the second round of 2012 presidential elections, Morsi was opposed to Army member Ahmed Shafiq, a « no choice » according to certain Egyptians who felt forced to chose between a religious political group and a remnant of the old regime.
“As the Brotherhood protected the legitimacy of the revolution in Tahrir Square [in 2011], it continues to protect the legitimacy of elected State institutions in front of the presidential palace, despite successive waves of barbaric violence targeting its headquarters across Egypt,” reads Ikhwanweb, the Brotherhood official website.
Muslim Brotherhood said they were the target of another « Camel Battle » at the Itahadeyia Presidential Palace, on last December 5, 2012. On their website, they described the « Camel Battle 2 » as the attack of its supporters by, “thugs and criminals us(ing) bladed weapons, firearms, tear gas bombs and Molotov cocktails as they attacked.” They said nine Muslim Brotherhood died while they were allegedly “completely unarmed pro-President peaceful demonstrators,” quoting Ikhwanweb.
Secular forces and military: who are the Muslim Brotherhood fighting against?
“The demonstrators also condemned businessmen and politicians who instigated the massacre and other brutal attacks through their TV appearances, such as Mamdouh Hamza, Hamdeen Sabbahi, Mohamed El Baradei and Amr Moussa,” the website reads.
With the help of new General Prosecutor Abdullah Talaat, the Brotherhood charged El Baradei, Sabbahi and Moussa, the three National Salvation Front (NSF) leaders, with high treason, coup attempt and conspiracy against the legitimacy of the institutions. NSF is a party coalition opposed to Botherhood rule.
On Ikhwanweb, Muslim Brotherhood website, Dr. Rafiq Habib says for him, there is an alliance between members of the former regime and current secular forces. A Coptic thinker supposedly retired from political life, Habib explains in his opinion, secular forces rely on military strength to try overthrowing the current Islamic government.
“Former regime holdovers [always] use violence to impose a political reality hostile to the revolution. But because of occasional compatibility and convergence of interests between former regime hangovers and secular forces, this violence sometimes enjoys deceptive political cover », he said. « It is as though some secular forces found in the old guard a safe haven of sorts: secularists rely on old guard ‘muscle’ and the violence they inflict, sometimes involving certain political groups and parties.“
Lately, Muslim Brotherhood offered a dialogue with secular forces who rejected it, stressing out some conditions should be fulfilled first to establish a good ground for talks. Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General, Dr. Mahmoud Hussein, replied “Now it’s clear who wants stability for this homeland and believes in democracy, and just who wants the opposite.”
Liberal forces argued that the Constituent Assembly (CA) did not represent the whole society, thus the draft Constitution was illegitimate and the referendum should be postponed. Several liberal members of the CA resigned from their posts on last November, saying they could not express their opinion freely in the debate. Most were replaced with members of Islamist background, raising critics from their opposition that they were hijacking the revolution. However, in a recent declaration, Morsi insisted the referendum would be held on time.
As the Egyptian opposition did not decide yet whether they would call for a boycott or a “no” vote for the constitutional referendum, probability for the “yes” to pass is swelling. Acceptance of the constitutional draft, if ever in pure legal grounds, definitively passed to political schemes.
“If Morsi had real desire to allow people to make an informed decision, he’d delay the referendum to allow people to study this constitution,” prominent activist and Egyptian blogger Bassem Sabry wrote on his twitter account.