Morsi’s power grab sparks mass protests

November 26, 2012

The streets of Egypt erupted in protest last week after President Mohamed Morsi issued a constitutional declaration that greatly expanded his own powers, prompting some opponents to call the Muslim Brotherhood leader the "new pharaoh."

Morsi had just helped in negotiating a cease-fire in Gaza that was viewed as forcing Israel to retreat from its assault on the Palestinians when he made his move. While the seven-point constitutional declaration claims to further the goals of the 2011 revolution that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, most Egyptians recognized it as a bid to consolidate Morsi's grip on power.

One provision dismisses the prosecutor general, a remnant of the Mubarak era, and another orders new investigations and trials for those accused of brutalizing and killing protesters since last year's revolt. But the declaration also includes an article stipulating that the upper house of parliament and the constituent assembly--the bodies in charge of writing Egypt's new constitution--can't be dissolved by any court. Another clause states that constitutional declarations, laws and decrees made by the president "are final and binding and cannot be appealed by any way or to any entity."

Tens of thousands turned out to protest the power grab, including many liberal and leftist forces. In some places, supporters of the old regime also joined the anti-Morsi protests--like Amr Moussa, Mubarak's foreign minister, who tried to join a rally at Tahrir Square, according to Ahram, sparking an angry response from left-wing protesters.

The Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt issued this statement on November 22 explaining why they are protesting Morsi's constitutional declaration.

TODAY, ALL the masks fell from Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood organization, who trade in revolution, and for whom the revolution is nothing but a means to reach the seat of power. They and the remnants of the old regime are two sides of the same coin, which represents tyranny and enmity toward the people.

Morsi has issued a constitutional declaration in the name of the revolution. It appears on the surface to show compassion, but in reality, it promises torment.

He has started to open investigations into the murder of revolutionaries--the dozens who fell at Maspero, on Mohamed Mahmoud Street and outside the cabinet offices. The Muslim Brotherhood had previously ignored them.

He announced the removal of the attorney general, whose firing we have been demanding since the beginning of the revolution because he is a part of the old regime. This is the same regime whose leadership Morsi has largely preserved, such as the current interior minister or the businessmen who accompany Morsi on his plane when he travels abroad.

Protesters march to Tahrir Square following President Morsi's constitutional decree
Protesters march to Tahrir Square following President Morsi's constitutional decree

The declaration then moved on to its real object: to give immunity to the president's decisions until the election of a new parliament. This will also preserve the Shura Council [the upper house of Egypt's parliament] and the farcical Constituent Assembly, which has seen a large number of its members resign in recent days.

This assembly does not represent the Egyptian masses. It was the result of a deal in a hotel room between the Brotherhood, the Salafists and the parties of the old era. Its members aren't concerned with economic and social rights. They are more interested in the age of marriage for girls, in abolishing the divorce law--and in expanding the powers of the president.

The declaration also gives Morsi the right to take any decisions necessary in the face of threats to the country, national security, the revolution or national unity.

WE SAY to Morsi: you and your organization are the real threat to the revolution, as you embrace Mubarak's businessmen, run panting after loans from the IMF, trade in religion, threaten national unity and sell out the revolution.

The words "social justice" are not even in your dictionary. You've forgotten the minimum and maximum wage. You've raised prices and left the poor eating mud while they still need a bottle of oil and kilo of meat before the elections.

We will not accept a new pharaoh. You will not succeed in stabilizing your tottering government, which crushed dozens of children with neglect, killed and injured hundreds of young people with bullets and tear gas, and detained hundreds after severe beatings and torture from the dogs of the Interior Ministry.

But we will not accept remnants of the old regime returning to the revolutionary scene under the pretext that "we are all against the Brotherhood." We will not work with anyone who worked hand-in-glove with the deposed dictator, because these people participated for many years in looting and killing the best sons and daughters of the people. We call on our comrades in the revolutionary march to step back from this game of shuffling the decks of cards.

The Revolutionary Socialists call on the revolutionary people to save the revolution that has been stolen by an alliance between the Brotherhood and the remnants of Mubarak's regime. We call on people to come out into the streets with the slogans: bread, freedom, social justice.

We demand:

-- The cancellation of the supplementary constitutional declaration that entrenches tyranny and autocracy

The formation of a new Constituent Assembly which represents all sections of society, including workers, peasants, civil servants, professionals, women, Copts, Nubians, the people of Sinai and Upper Egypt, fishermen and others

The resignation of Qandil's failed government and the formation of a revolutionary coalition government to take office until the completion of the new constitution and the election of a new parliament

Serious steps toward achieving of social justice, such as: implementing a minimum wage of 1,500 Egyptian pounds a month and a maximum wage, seizing the assets of corrupt companies and Mubarak's businessmen for the benefit of the people, imposing progressive income taxes, re-nationalizing companies that were sold in corrupt deals and canceling the privatization program

All power and wealth to the people!

Translated by Anne Alexander. The original Arabic is online at the Revolutionary Socialists' website.

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