Unfinished ‘revolution’: Egyptians on streets for real spring
Lighting up the regional spark lit by Tunisians, with whom they shared the same ill fate of being ruled by a strongman for decades, Egyptians are now standing on a knife’s edge in an effort to finalize their unfinished “revolution” and to bring the real spring to the country amid an ongoing battle over an absolute presidential decree and the controversial Constitution.
Leveling the same chants, which they used against ousted President Hosni Mubarak at iconic Tahrir Square, at his Islamist successor, Mohamed Morsi, Egyptians have been conducting a similar struggle during recent days in the streets not to see another pharaoh in power. The latest phase of the “conflict for another Egypt” came after Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Morsi declared himself above the law by issuing a decree that makes him and his decisions immune to any judicial scrutiny. By doing so, Morsi bypassed the judiciary, which he sees as the remaining guardian of the old regime. Soon after his decree, Egyptians poured onto the streets while the president and his Islamist allies defended the move as “essential” during the transition period.
The crisis even deepened when an Islamist-led assembly boycotted by leftists, secularists, Christians and moderate Muslim groups, which were in the same camp with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood during the protests against Mubarak, raced against time to give the green light to a new Constitution with an Islamist bent.
While Morsi and his allies tried to portray the new Constitution as the solution to the crisis over the disputed presidential decree by saying the new charter would abolish the presidential decree after it is approved in a referendum, it was in fact a “lose-lose” situation for the rest of the country. Even the legality of the panel-crafted new Constitution has seen no judicial review since a top court’s authority has been left in limbo due to Morsi’s new powers.
Echoing the autocratic old regime’s vision with an Islamist tendency with articles that will eventually lead to restrictions on the rights of women and minorities and civil liberties in general, the new Constitution also failed to entirely eradicate the old regime’s powerful military.
The ramification of Morsi’s decree and the new charter was not the very end after all, since it created an opportunity for the divided opposition forces to unite on a single cause and fight against what they termed the “hijacking” of the new era, now commonly referred to as the “Arab Spring.” In fact, the opposition has long been feeling that it was betrayed after the ouster of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood hijacked their “revolution.”
However, today Morsi and his Islamist allies have appeared to move beyond hijacking the never-arrived spring and have created their own Mubarak-era-like governing structure. Should Egypt truly want to lead the way for a true political change that will be echoed throughout the region, the protesting Egyptians must show greater defiance then they showed during the first round at Tahrir Square. Otherwise, they will face a harsh winter after the spring that was never felt.