Wed. Oct 16th, 2019

Mohammad Morsi: An Unsung Hero

Danish Hameed

Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who rose to office in the country’s first free elections in 2012 and was ousted a year later by the military, collapsed in court during a trial and died, state TV and his family said.Well, after a week of doubt, delays and fears of a military coup, last Sunday to the cheers and jubilation of a massive crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Dr. Mohammed Morsi was declared winner in the presidential election. According to the Election Commission, nearly 52% of the votes were cast in his favor; his opponent General Ahmed Shafiq – an old guard from the Hosni Mubarak era – received nearly 48% of the votes. So, for the first time in modern Egypt, her people had chosen one of their own in a free election. I am glad to note that Dr. Morsi is a fellow alumnus from my school – the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where he earned his PhD in engineering. With the official announcement, one would suppose that everything is going in the right direction and there is nothing to feel concerned about the emerging democracy in Egypt – the land which had seen more Pharaohs than democratically elected rulers. However, serious challenges remain, as the ruling military council has effectively stripped the incoming president of most of his powers. Morsi’s recognition as president, thus, does little to resolve the larger standoff between the generals and the Brotherhood over the institutions of government and the future constitution. The real power in Egypt is still with the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been running the country for the past 16 months after the revolution forced Hosni Mubarak to step down! It is a military junta comprising of “19 Mubaraks” – who were all hand-picked by the last dictator to protect his regime. Thus, while Mubarak is gone and enjoying the comfort of military hospital instead of jail, his partners-in-crime and beneficiaries have still been holding their power behind that all-powerful clique. There is widespread perception that this unelected few are determined to retain as much power necessary to dominate Egyptian politics and preserve their perks. Thus, we are not too surprised to learn that the Supreme Council has over the past week given itself the role of legislator, the right to arrest civilians, control over drafting a new constitution and stripped the next president of many significant powers. It has dissolved the popularly elected Parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and has passed decrees to shield the military from civilian oversight so that none can contest its overwhelming power, and not even the newly elected president. Such moves have been called the silent coup.
The military has already been blamed by critics for mismanaging the 16-month transition since Mubarak’s overthrow and a host of gross rights abuses, including the killing of protesters, torturing detainees and hauling more than 12,000 civilians for trial before military tribunals since it took power. These moves have been condemned by the Human Rights Watch which said last Thursday that recent moves by Egypt’s ruling generals suggested that there would not be a “meaningful” handover of power to civilian rule by July 1 as promised. In a statement, the New York-based group said the generals created conditions that are “ripe” for further abuses. “The generals’ relentless expansion of their authority to detain and try civilians now goes far beyond their powers under Hosni Mubarak,” the statement quoted the group’s Middle East director, Joe Stork, as saying. The true intention of the SCAF remains unclear. As recently as Sunday morning, Cairo was tense with fears that the panel of Mubarak-appointed judges overseeing the vote would declare Shafiq president. Banks, schools and government offices closed early for fear of violence in the streets. Tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters and allies against military rule had gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for the sixth day of a sit-in demanding the military roll back its power grab. Then came the moment when it was announced that Dr. Morsi had won the run-off election. Even with that announcement the Egyptian crisis is still far from over. Will SCAF grant Dr. Morsi the power necessary to govern effectively or set him up to fail so that it could torpedo the revolution? Will Dr. Morsi be able to curb the power of the military junta? Will he be able to influence the drafting of a new constitution that respects civil rights and represents the aspirations of his people? Will he be a unifying leader? In his first nationally televised speech on Sunday, Dr. Morsi vowed to represent all Egyptians and urged his countrymen to put aside their differences and come together for the common good. He said, “This national unity is the only way to get Egypt out of this difficult crisis.” He also paid special tribute to those 900 “martyrs” who helped spearhead the revolution that led to the ouster of Egypt’s longtime President Hosni Mubarak and, more than a year later, to his own election win. Dr. Morsi is a pragmatist. Fulfilling a campaign pledge to represents all Egyptians, he has resigned from the Brotherhood, and its political arm – the Freedom and Justice Party. But for Dr. Morsi to succeed, he will need a legislative ally. He had that ally in the now-dissolved parliament. Although the SCAF has said elections will be held for a new legislature, the revolutionaries mistrust such promises, and see its dirty-hand in dissolving the parliament. They say they will continue their sit-ins at Tahrir Square and fight in the courts until the disbanded parliament is restored.
Recently, an Egyptian court has suspended a government decision allowing military police and intelligence to arrest civilians. This is a small but important victory for the people of Egypt who are not afraid any more to demand what is fair. They are fighting back through the legal channels and peaceful protests to contest military decrees that are unfair. Neither bayonet nor bullet is going to take away their hard-earned victory. Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous country. With millions of educated but unemployed young people, a corrupt oligarchy that controls private industry, and a massive underclass, the Egyptian people care more about economy and employment than anything else. And at the end, that is how Dr. Morsi will be judged by his people. So, the serious questions remain as to with all the major powers stripped, and the parliament dissolved, how effective would Dr. Morsi be to bring food to the table of those hungry millions? Will he be able to nudge the army to restore presidential powers it curtailed this month through negotiation and pressure so that he could fulfill the dreams of the revolutionaries and those martyrs? Only the coming months would show if revolution has been issued a death certificate or a healthy bill of life. In the decades that I have lived in the Jammu and Kashmir state , I have studied, taught and written extensively about Islam and its contemporary revival. Islamic revivalism means many things to many people. For some it means rule by Islamic law, for others, especially Muslim Americans, it is the return of the intellectual and cultural vitality of the Muslim world, freedom from dictatorships and the restoration of Islam’s democratic traditions. Many Muslim American scholars like Dr Khaled Abou El Fadl at the University of California, Los Angeles; Dr Abdulaziz Sachedina at George Mason University and myself have for over a decade made the case that Islam and democracy are compatible, and that a genuine implementation of Islamic values requires democratization. For many of us involved in such work, the Arab awakening, or Arab Spring, is finally an opportunity to prove that Islam and democracy are compatible not just in theory, but also in practice.
While many in the Arab and Muslim world are optimistic about Morsi’s election, there are many – including Egyptians, and some in the United States and Europe – who are skeptical about Morsi’s promises of equality, and concerned that he might try to bring about an Islamic state. Yet much of what is happening in Egypt demonstrates that Islam and democracy are compatible. President Morsi has repeatedly stated that what he and Egyptians seek is a civil, not an Islamic state – one that will treat all its citizens equally, men and women, Muslim and non-Muslim. The challenges President Morsi faces, international and domestic, economic, political and spiritual, are daunting indeed. Yet I wish him success in his endeavors to establish an Islamic democracy in the Arab world, and in so doing to take a major step towards reviving Islamic civilization. Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who rose to office in the country’s first free elections in 2012 and was ousted a year later by the military, collapsed in court during a trial and died, state TV and his family said.Well, after a week of doubt, delays and fears of a military coup, last Sunday to the cheers and jubilation of a massive crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Dr. Mohammed Morsi was declared winner in the presidential election. According to the Election Commission, nearly 52% of the votes were cast in his favor; his opponent General Ahmed Shafiq – an old guard from the Hosni Mubarak era – received nearly 48% of the votes. So, for the first time in modern Egypt, her people had chosen one of their own in a free election. I am glad to note that Dr. Morsi is a fellow alumnus from my school – the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where he earned his PhD in engineering. With the official announcement, one would suppose that everything is going in the right direction and there is nothing to feel concerned about the emerging democracy in Egypt – the land which had seen more Pharaohs than democratically elected rulers. However, serious challenges remain, as the ruling military council has effectively stripped the incoming president of most of his powers. Morsi’s recognition as president, thus, does little to resolve the larger standoff between the generals and the Brotherhood over the institutions of government and the future constitution. The real power in Egypt is still with the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been running the country for the past 16 months after the revolution forced Hosni Mubarak to step down! It is a military junta comprising of “19 Mubaraks” – who were all hand-picked by the last dictator to protect his regime. Thus, while Mubarak is gone and enjoying the comfort of military hospital instead of jail, his partners-in-crime and beneficiaries have still been holding their power behind that all-powerful clique. There is widespread perception that this unelected few are determined to retain as much power necessary to dominate Egyptian politics and preserve their perks. Thus, we are not too surprised to learn that the Supreme Council has over the past week given itself the role of legislator, the right to arrest civilians, control over drafting a new constitution and stripped the next president of many significant powers. It has dissolved the popularly elected Parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and has passed decrees to shield the military from civilian oversight so that none can contest its overwhelming power, and not even the newly elected president. Such moves have been called the silent coup.
The military has already been blamed by critics for mismanaging the 16-month transition since Mubarak’s overthrow and a host of gross rights abuses, including the killing of protesters, torturing detainees and hauling more than 12,000 civilians for trial before military tribunals since it took power. These moves have been condemned by the Human Rights Watch which said last Thursday that recent moves by Egypt’s ruling generals suggested that there would not be a “meaningful” handover of power to civilian rule by July 1 as promised. In a statement, the New York-based group said the generals created conditions that are “ripe” for further abuses. “The generals’ relentless expansion of their authority to detain and try civilians now goes far beyond their powers under Hosni Mubarak,” the statement quoted the group’s Middle East director, Joe Stork, as saying. The true intention of the SCAF remains unclear. As recently as Sunday morning, Cairo was tense with fears that the panel of Mubarak-appointed judges overseeing the vote would declare Shafiq president. Banks, schools and government offices closed early for fear of violence in the streets. Tens of thousands of Brotherhood supporters and allies against military rule had gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for the sixth day of a sit-in demanding the military roll back its power grab. Then came the moment when it was announced that Dr. Morsi had won the run-off election. Even with that announcement the Egyptian crisis is still far from over. Will SCAF grant Dr. Morsi the power necessary to govern effectively or set him up to fail so that it could torpedo the revolution? Will Dr. Morsi be able to curb the power of the military junta? Will he be able to influence the drafting of a new constitution that respects civil rights and represents the aspirations of his people? Will he be a unifying leader? In his first nationally televised speech on Sunday, Dr. Morsi vowed to represent all Egyptians and urged his countrymen to put aside their differences and come together for the common good. He said, “This national unity is the only way to get Egypt out of this difficult crisis.” He also paid special tribute to those 900 “martyrs” who helped spearhead the revolution that led to the ouster of Egypt’s longtime President Hosni Mubarak and, more than a year later, to his own election win. Dr. Morsi is a pragmatist. Fulfilling a campaign pledge to represents all Egyptians, he has resigned from the Brotherhood, and its political arm – the Freedom and Justice Party. But for Dr. Morsi to succeed, he will need a legislative ally. He had that ally in the now-dissolved parliament. Although the SCAF has said elections will be held for a new legislature, the revolutionaries mistrust such promises, and see its dirty-hand in dissolving the parliament. They say they will continue their sit-ins at Tahrir Square and fight in the courts until the disbanded parliament is restored. Recently, an Egyptian court has suspended a government decision allowing military police and intelligence to arrest civilians. This is a small but important victory for the people of Egypt who are not afraid any more to demand what is fair. They are fighting back through the legal channels and peaceful protests to contest military decrees that are unfair. Neither bayonet nor bullet is going to take away their hard-earned victory.
Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous country. With millions of educated but unemployed young people, a corrupt oligarchy that controls private industry, and a massive underclass, the Egyptian people care more about economy and employment than anything else. And at the end, that is how Dr. Morsi will be judged by his people. So, the serious questions remain as to with all the major powers stripped, and the parliament dissolved, how effective would Dr. Morsi be to bring food to the table of those hungry millions? Will he be able to nudge the army to restore presidential powers it curtailed this month through negotiation and pressure so that he could fulfill the dreams of the revolutionaries and those martyrs? Only the coming months would show if revolution has been issued a death certificate or a healthy bill of life. In the decades that I have lived in the Jammu and Kashmir state , I have studied, taught and written extensively about Islam and its contemporary revival. Islamic revivalism means many things to many people. For some it means rule by Islamic law, for others, especially Muslim Americans, it is the return of the intellectual and cultural vitality of the Muslim world, freedom from dictatorships and the restoration of Islam’s democratic traditions. Many Muslim American scholars like Dr Khaled Abou El Fadl at the University of California, Los Angeles; Dr Abdulaziz Sachedina at George Mason University and myself have for over a decade made the case that Islam and democracy are compatible, and that a genuine implementation of Islamic values requires democratization. For many of us involved in such work, the Arab awakening, or Arab Spring, is finally an opportunity to prove that Islam and democracy are compatible not just in theory, but also in practice. While many in the Arab and Muslim world are optimistic about Morsi’s election, there are many – including Egyptians, and some in the United States and Europe – who are skeptical about Morsi’s promises of equality, and concerned that he might try to bring about an Islamic state. Yet much of what is happening in Egypt demonstrates that Islam and democracy are compatible. President Morsi has repeatedly stated that what he and Egyptians seek is a civil, not an Islamic state – one that will treat all its citizens equally, men and women, Muslim and non-Muslim. The challenges President Morsi faces, international and domestic, economic, political and spiritual, are daunting indeed. Yet I wish him success in his endeavors to establish an Islamic democracy in the Arab world, and in so doing to take a major step towards reviving Islamic civilization. Although i personally won’t subscribe to Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology,Morsi was a man who stood for his beliefs. Beliefs for which he was chosen by Egyptians. A world order where likes of Modi & Trump r tolerated bt dictates to Muslims who should rule them. Rest in Peace. Remember it was the Arab elite and secularists who make noise & are darling of west for thier “fight for rights” who were at the front in disposing a democratically elected leader and showering praises on a military maniac dictator i.e Sisi. The world will remember the warrior of Ummah. Next time when the west says “You Arabs deserve Dictators”, perhaps the Arabs should enquire. The Arab world has got used to Dictators & Kings. This isn’t an assumption but reality. Surely the end times!! Slaves of the west are alive and credible pious gentlemen returning to Allah. Mohammed Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, his son said, a day after he collapsed in court and died shortly after. The Brotherhood, which has since been outlawed, said Morsi’s death was a “full-fledged murder” and called on Egyptians to gather for a mass funeral.

( The author is a freelancer from South Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Views are his own danishhameed8519@gmail.com)

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