Egypt: Morsi unleashes thugs amid fresh protests against 'Pharoah-like' decrees

December 12, 2012
Protest against Morsi's decrees in Cairo, December 5.

Egyptians again rise against tyranny and dictatorship. Politically, they have made significant gains from the street pressure, leading to a significant retraction from President Mohamad Morsi. But his concessions are superficial.

By and large, the Muslim Bortherhood's Morsi stubbornly continues to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Mubarak. If the recent history is any predictor of the future, Morsi’s future looks bleak.

Despite US support for Morsi, which had emboldened him to deliver a Pharoh-like decree, his public address to the nation seemed more shaken and lacked his predecessors emotional intelligence and statesmanship.

December 5 will be remembered in Egyptian history as the blackest day since the revolution. On this day, Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party unleashed their militias against the unarmed peaceful protesters that had demanded the rescinding of the presidential decree the day before without incident.

Morsi’s administration declared war on all opposition threatening to silence and eliminate all who stood in their way. They openly stated that it will be a battle for survival of the fittest and called on their supporters to show their strength, in effect inviting civil war.

The result: eight dead, including a journalist who was reporting on protest and hundreds seriously injured. Morsi’s regime now seems to be crumbling with many jumping ship.

The gravity of the Brotherhood actions leaves their hands blood stained with the responsibility for all dead, injured, tortured and silenced landing squarely on Morsi. His legitimacy to continue as president is seriously in question. The justice minister and the president’s Christian deputy have already resigned. As pressures mount, more are expected to follow suit.

Two-and-a-half-million peaceful protesters, according to the communication ministry's mobile tracking devices, had marched to the Al Ithadia palace from all over Egypt in a civilized manner -- echoing the peaceful revolution of the 25th of January in their plurality. The protest was in many ways similar to that of the more idealistic days of the Egyptian revolution.

The next day, violence filled the streets with the arrival of Morsi’s men armed with swords, daggers and live ammunition.

The situation threatens to get worse after a speech that left many Egyptians dissatisfied and concerned that they have landed a worse fate than Mubarak. It seemed to many that a religious theocracy is being born, and is utilising armed militia against the opposition. Now the people have to also cope with the price hikes announced threatening to further cripple the lives of the poor who are barely surviving economic hardship.

Anger over the creation of an Ayatollah-style theological dictatorship, and an economic war on the poor is now the key driving force unifying almost all sectors of Egyptian society against the Brotherhood and their supporters. A constitutional declaration that back tracks on democracy and breaches the constitution under which Morsi was elected was being enforced in order to push through the constitutional draft by the Islamist committee, which was abandoned by all other sectors of Egyptian society.

The decree further removed the right to protest or challenge the draft constitution and gave the president divine authority above the law as well as absolute power: legislative, constitutional and judicial.

The effects of the decree are largely still intact even though superficial elements have been withdrawn with the hope of creating an illusion of compromise by the president and forcing the referendum.

Many Egyptians fear that this new constitution will create an apartheid divisive state, with ultimate powers to the president, military and police force. Not to mention oppressive measures towards minorities, women, workers and peasants.

The consitution would allow child labour and fails to protect the rights of children in a number of areas, including underage marriage of girls, which many fear is a pretext for enabling child sex trade. Furthermore the whole process had been fraught and lacked the slightest pretences of democracy representation or transparancy with the Brotherhood showing contempt and disregard to all other sectors of Egyptian society.

Homophobic propaganda has started on the street, with the Brotherhood and Salafis chanting that if you say no to this constitution, gay marriages will be a reality in Egypt.

Since the unleashing of Morsi's militias on the streets to supposedly defend his right to rule, the streets of Egypt have been filled with tear gas Molotov cocktails, violence and discord. Again this is reminiscent of Mubarak’s era and his regime’s responses to protesters, except this time it was the new president's supporters and party members who were inciting the violence as well as firing live ammunition against the protesters.

The interior police force again did not protect the unarmed people being dragged, detained, tied and tortured, outside the presidential palace. In fact, eyewitnesses reported that they saluted them and referred to them as "Sir".

The thin veneer of civility has been scratched to expose the real ugly face of the Brotherhood. This has been the grand unmasking of all pretenses at the Brotherhood being a pro-democracy organisation that denounces violence.

Finally, Egyptians are faced with the reality that they have ousted one form of dictatorship and replaced it by another. Egypt witnessed “Morsi’s Men”, as they called themselves, in a military style march outside his palace chanting Jihad and stating that they only fire live bullets.

To date, the president has not addressed these concerns at all or condemned these actions.

Iconic revolutionary figures were attacked and appeared on Egyptian independent TV stations recounting their horrific encounters with Brotherhood violence, torture and humiliation. These included 70-year-old Shahenda Maklad, leftist peasant union leader and activist since the 60’s, Egypt’s ex ambassador to Venezeula, key leaders in opposition parties , Shadi Abu-Zaid, a young activist against sexual harassment, was shot by pellet cartridge and photos of his perforated chest flooded the papers and many other female activists who sustained serious head injuries, were stripped and bashed in the streets of Cairo.

It seems that Morsi's supporters specifically targeted these key activists, starting with the women’s march, with the intention of spreading fear and terror and eliminating all opposition.

The legitimacy of any ruler comes from the people they claim to represent. Morsi ‘s supporters claim that he has the legitimacy of democratic election, but what they fail to grasp is that democracy is never a blank cheque. Morsi won by a very narrow margin in an election that was fraught with many allegations of violations, and interference from internal and external powers.

Those who supported Mubarak are arming, advising and supporting Egypt’s new dictator in the making. What the people of Egypt will do next will determine their fate as slaves or free people. The people of Egypt seem to be awake and determined to free themselves of any form of dictatorship. The will and drive of the masses for freedom dignity and social justice will deliver ultimate victory and justice to people of Egypt. The revolution continues.

[Reham Maklad is an Egyptian solidarity activist based in Melbourne.]

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