Update on Egypt: Morsi’s Move Fails to Satisfy Opposition

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi

Opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi say they’re not satisfied with his decision to rescind a decree that gave him virtually unchallengeable power.

(“Rescind” means to cancel or take back.)

They’re demanding that he also cancel this Saturday’s scheduled vote on a new Egyptian constitution.

And they’re promising massive protests on Tuesday if he does not.

Going ahead with the vote “risks pushing the country toward violent confrontation,” said a statement from the National Salvation Front, the main Egyptian opposition group.

And that violent confrontation would pit Egyptian against Egyptian.

Already, at least eight people have died in the anti-government protests that began late last month, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And hundreds of people have been injured in violent confrontations between the protesters and Morsi’s supporters.

The protests began after Morsi issued his decree on November 22nd — a decree saying that the Egyptian court system could no longer review his decisions.

In other words, he gave himself the power to do basically whatever he wanted.

And he stripped all the judges of any power to stop him.

According to Reuters news service, Morsi said he issued the decree so the judges would not block his reforms.

But Morsi’s opponents said the decree essentially turned him into a dictator.

 

This past weekend, after those violent protests, Morsi announced that he was rescinding most of his decree.

But as of Sunday night, he was still sticking to his plan to hold a vote Saturday on the proposed constitution – a constitution that fails to protect freedom of expression, the rights of women and religious minorities, according to his opponents.

The opponents say Morsi’s strongest supporters – conservative Muslims – want to create a nation that’s ruled only by Islamic religious law.

They also say Christians and non-religious leaders have been locked out of the process that led to the creation of the proposed constitution.

“It’s not logical that just one part of society makes the constitution,” said Hermes Fawzi, an anti-government protester, in an interview with Reuters news service.

Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president when he took office earlier this year.

And according to his supporters, he acted within his rights as a democratically elected leader when he scheduled a vote on the constitution for December 15th.

“The people are the makers of the future, as long as they have the freedom to resort to the ballot box in a democratic, free and fair vote,” Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

But a democracy is not supposed to be just tyranny by the majority.

(“Tyranny” is another word for dictatorship.)

It’s also supposed to protect minority rights, even when the majority rules.

So according to Morsi’s opponents, what’s the point of voting on a constitution that doesn’t protect minority rights?

“A constitution without consensus can’t go to a referendum,” said Fawzi, the anti-government protester.

(“Consensus” is another word for “agreement.” And “referendum” is another word for “election.”)

“Give us more time to discuss a new draft (of the constitution),” said opposition spokesman Khaled Dawoud, according to Associated Press reporter Sarah El Deeb.

Otherwise, “we will try our best,” Dawoud added, “(to make sure) that (Saturday’s) referendum doesn’t take place.”