Egyptians cannot forget Morsi’s roots
President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt is making some interesting moves, which are sending ripples both internally and externally.
For a country of almost 90 million, only just recovering from a major revolt against its past leaders, most Egyptians continue to be cautious and critical of his every move. The newly- elected president made statements on his first visit to the Iranian Capital Tehran that were well received by his followers back home, and criticized by most of his political adversaries. They also seemed to disturb some of Egypt’s political allies. Regardless of the diverse response, his latest trip - which began with a visit to China before going to Iran - invokes some interesting political messages.
For starters, the decision to go to the non-aligned movement meeting in Tehran was in itself an interesting one. This is because not only does Egypt not have official relations with Tehran, but also because any close ties with the Persian nation are expected to evoke uneasiness with Egypt’s eastern neighbors and their allies.
It was his speech that really made the headlines. He certainly made his mark by supporting his “brothers” in Syria, by criticizing international institutions and their roles in international affairs, especially in Africa, and surprised everyone by hailing the late President Nasser of Egypt - a historical adversary of the Muslim Brotherhood itself - for his role in the founding of the non-aligned movement. Responses to his visit and speech varied widely, but average Egyptians were at least proud to witness a strong representation of their nation.
Back Home, Morsi continues to be a controversial President. He might have been fairly elected as the first president after the revolution, but nevertheless his strong affiliation to the biggest unregistered religious group in the country keeps his every move under severe scrutiny by the majority of Egyptians who did not elect him, as well as those who did. He has tried to consolidate his power and assert his rule, (or that of the Muslim Brotherhood, as many claim), as he faces the complexity of the tasks at hand. Every move Morsi takes is sure to affect Egypt’s path either towards democracy or away from it. His responses to media censorship have so far raised eyebrows and revived doubts over the major fear of many Egyptians: that the Brotherhood intends to take Egypt down a religious path and crush any opposition early in the game.
Morsi and the Brotherhood might have been the better choice for Egyptians against the toppled Mubarak regime and in contrast to military rule, but no one should underestimate or forget that they do not single handedly represent the aspirations of the revolution. There is a growing hope that the young, peaceful spirit of January 2011 might yet reappear in a different shape and eventually reap the fruits of its revolt. It might yet be too early to take account of Mr. Morsi or his government, but his every move will not escape the watchful eyes of many. His political opposition has been busy organizing itself. It has a tall order. The two most important issues for the future of Egypt are getting ready for the next parliamentary elections and making sure that the country can give itself an uncontested constitution.