Five reasons to worry for Egypt’s first democratically elected president

For many Egyptians, the last and yet the only year of the nation's first democratically elected president in office has been a failure. 

As we are counting down toward the 30-June, most opposition groups and parties in the country are bracing themselves for the anti-government rallies demanding early presidential elections.

For many Egyptians, the last and yet the only year of the nation's first democratically elected president in office has been a failure. The most heavily populated Arab country has been plagued by energy and water shortages, high prices, lack of security and, above all, an economy heading over a cliff.

There are five reasons why President Morsi should fear these 30 June rallies.

First, alongside Egypt's opposition parties and groups that are losing ground every day thanks to their endless internal divisions, a campaign entitled "Tamarod" (Arabic for rebellion) with around six thousand young volunteers claims to have gathered about 15 million petition signatures so far calling for Morsi's resignation and early elections. This group is relying on the feeling of resentment of Egyptian youth.

Second, many renowned Egyptian intellectuals and artists have recently protested over the culture minister's policies. The minister, newly-appointed by President Morsi, has been accused of trying to spread Islamic extremism as part of a "Brotherhoodization" of culture. The Egyptian culture minister has been attempting to sack officers in high-profile positions in the ministry by accusing prominent cultural figures of corruption. This can only enflame the situation.

Then there is the appointment of the governor of Egypt's Luxor province. President Morsi appointed Adel Mohamed Al-Khayat, despite the fact that the latter belongs to a hard-line Islamist group that massacred 58 tourists in Luxor in 1997! It is patently obvious that President Morsi is trying to forge a political alliance with more radical, militant groups in anticipation of the opposition-led demonstrations scheduled on June 30, so noone was mollified by Al-Khayat’s official resignation from his position over what he alleged was an "unjust media campaign targeting him"

As usual, all eyes will be on the Egyptian military and its role during the potential mass protests across the country. If the large-scale anti-Morsi demonstrations provoke the Muslim Brotherhood into resorting to its "militias" in warding off the angry protesters, peaceful demonstrations could easily turn into a bloodbath. One military source told the Egyptian state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, that the Egyptian military will not tolerate a slide into state meltdown.

Fifth, knowing the importance of prominent religious figures and leaders, President Morsi has demanded the unequivocal support of both Ahmed El-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, and Pope Tawoudros II, the Coptic patriarch, in the face of the planned 30 June protests. However, both eminent Muslim and Coptic leaders have reportedly declined the president's appeal to issue a joint statement discouraging followers from joining the 30 June call. A few days ago, El-Tayeb issued a statement in which he described the peaceful opposition against their rulers as "acceptable" according to Sharia, adding that violence and belligerent actions are "great sins", albeit not acts of "disbelief". Similarly, the Coptic Pope in a recent televised interview said that the church cannot and will not command its subjects to take any particular political stance. So President Morsi has no religiously-based justification for using violence against 30 June anti-government protesters.

It is hard to tell what is going to happen. But feelings of anxiety and concern over the potential spread of violence are looming large. I think it is of the deepest necessity to follow in the footsteps of the Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent policy of resistance. Only by peaceful means, will the large-scale 30 June anti-Morsi protests prove fruitful, eventually putting to an end the Muslim Brotherhood's fantasy of seizing absolute power in Egypt.

About the author

Ahmed Magdy Youssef holds an MA in Global Journalism from Örebro University in Sweden. He has researched the media coverage of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, and is currently monitoring the Egyptian media system through the national media watch group, Egypt's Media Credibility Index (MCE Watch).  

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