Fears of ‘Islamist dictatorship’ grow after controversial decree by Egypt’s president

Click photo to download. Caption: Mohammed Morsi. Credit: Jonathan Rashad.(JNS.org) Despite receiving praise over his role in negotiation a ceasefire in Gaza, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi is facing mounting protests at home over a controversial ruling that many fear could result in a new “Islamist dictatorship.”

Opponents are upset with President Morsi’s decree on Nov 22., which declared that Egyptian courts cannot overrule any decisions he has made over the last six months or decisions he will make until the a new constitution is passed.

However, the drafting of Egypt’s new constitution has been complicated by the lack of a parliament, which was dissolved last June by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces after an Egyptian high court ruling that found issues with the election. Egypt’s Islamists—which dominated the parliament at the time—were upset with the dissolution.

Later, after becoming president, Morsi replaced several prominent generals in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in a move that many analysts viewed as an effort to consolidate his authority over Egypt’s military.

Morsi also attempted to restore the parliament, but the move was rejected by Egypt’s courts.

But even if parliament is restored and constitution is drafted, Middle East experts see Islamists continuing to dominate.

“By the time you get that new constitution, it will have been written by an Islamist-dominated assembly that all non-Islamists have completely abandoned,” Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told CNN.

Morsi’s opponents, who include broad coalition liberals, secularists and Christians, have taken to the streets in protest. Many of them are deeply suspicious of the President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Thousands have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, reminiscent of the demonstrations that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Violence has also been directed against offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and a 15-year old Muslim Brotherhood supported was killed, according to the New York Times.

The opposition refuses to meet with Morsi until he rescinds his decree and has scheduled additional demonstrations in Cairo in the upcoming days.  

“There is no room for compromise. If he wants a dialogue, he has to rescind these measures,” said Mohammed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and leader of Egypt’s liberal Constitution Party. 

Posted on November 26, 2012 .