Morsi’s Moment

Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi: Peacemaker, savior, tyrant?

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Nadav Kander for TIME
Nadav Kander for TIME

But the very next day, Morsi gave Egyptians a new reason to protest. He and his aides insist the Nov. 22 emergency decree putting his decisions beyond legal challenge was not a power grab, just a desperate attempt to preserve the democratic process. Their argument: the Mubarak-appointed judges of the Constitutional Court, having already declared the elected parliament illegitimate, were about to do the same with the Constituent Assembly. (The court had dissolved the first Constituent Assembly in April.) Far from seeking absolute power, say Morsi aides, the President is seeking to swiftly empower the legislative branch of government: a new constitution and elections for parliament will allow him to hand off authority. “If he was a new pharaoh, he wouldn’t be so keen on a new constitution and parliament,” says Darrag, who is also secretary general of the Constituent Assembly. “You can’t call a man a dictator when he’s trying to give up power.”

Darrag allows that the announcement of the emergency decree could have been more skillfully handled. “[Morsi] could have communicated his motivations better,” he says. “He made it too easy for his enemies to turn this into a weapon against him.” But he maintains that the new powers will be strictly temporary, expiring when the Constituent Assembly produces a constitution and a new parliament is elected.

The trouble with that argument is that the constitution-drafting process Morsi claims to be trying to save is, in the eyes of many liberals and religious minorities, not worth saving. Already more than 20 members of the Constituent Assembly— including those representing the Coptic churches and several liberal, secular parties—have resigned, most citing disagreements over the extent to which Islamic law should guide legislation. Many liberals would rather scrap the process and start again.

(MORE: The Document That May Define the New Egypt: Why the Constitution Matters)

And then there’s the darker possibility. Some Western experts believe Morsi’s power grab shows that he is playing a longer game with the ultimate goal of a rigid Islamic state no longer open to democratic freedoms or aligned with Western interests. “He’s not, and never has been, a moderate,” says Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who interviewed Morsi repeatedly as an academic starting in 2010. “His function inside the Muslim Brotherhood was that of an enforcer [who] would weed out anyone who didn’t agree with [its] strict doctrine or tactics.”

Even the Cairo street seems a bit unsure of Morsi’s ultimate direction. In some pockets of Tahrir Square, it is hard to tell the protesters from the casual pedestrians. Vendors hawk roasted corn and yams, popcorn and Egyptian candy. On one corner, riot police toss tear gas at gangs of young men wearing handkerchiefs over their faces, and spectators look on with no sense of fear. In other sections, the anger at Morsi is palpable. “This is a blatant attempt to get himself the powers of Mubarak, and we won’t agree to it,” says Shaadi Mohammed, 23, who described himself as a “former fan” of the new President. “We united to kick Mubarak out. If Morsi isn’t careful, we will do the same to him.”

Which Way Next?
In his conversation with TIME, Morsi didn’t seem concerned by the street protests. “Egyptians are free. They are raising their voices when they are opposing the President,” he said. “We have a new Egypt now.” But do they? After the first spasm of outrage at the decree, some aides hinted that he would announce a compromise. That hasn’t happened. Once Tahrir Square filled up, it made a retraction harder: it might make him look weak. The other way out is to be true to his word and use the emergency powers to quickly deliver a new constitution, one that distributes power more evenly among the presidency, legislature and judiciary. This will first require him to bring back to the assembly the members who quit. Not easy, but not impossible for a man who persuaded Egypt’s top generals to walk away from power.

Yet with crowds back in the streets and the unpredictable forces of change at work once again, even Morsi may no longer know where he is leading his new country.

with reporting by Ashraf Khalil And Karl Vick / Cairo And Jay Newton-Small / Washington

VIDEO: Egyptians Gather Together (but Not United) in Tahrir Square

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59 comments
abodooma
abodooma

A tyrant wouldn't invite the opposition leaders 7 times to get their opinion in political events and 7 times they refuse his invites... A tyrant wouldn't take back 3 official decrees to please the opposition...

As a matter of fact I think he is a little weak when it comes to internal politics.. I think he shouldn't pay so much attention to them as they're minorities and Egyptians always vote against him.. They will never be satisfied no matter how he tries

سليمان
سليمان

قوله تعالى {إِنْ يَنْصُرْكُمُ اللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ وَإِنْ يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَنْصُرُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ} [آل عمران: 160] رئيس مصر رجل مؤمن لا يخاف الا الله و لن يكون تانبع لاحد سواء امريكا او غيرها

ybe123
ybe123

Give the egyptian chance? The main guy of terrorist organization which is mother of Hamas become a president! What kind of chance?He just waiting to receive the money from UN and USA. It will take some time to see him as sheep.So the voters who “actually don’t care about politics” have excuse and could choose him as man of the year. Please do not pretend to be blind like Europeans. 

heshoh64
heshoh64

Dears all egyptians first i am not a Muslim brother or anything else i amjust egyptianjust i wanna say give president morsi chance to cross thecrisis in egypt and if not we will go together to tahrer squair to tel him youhave to go. But right now he didn't get any real chance.

WilliamBalaz
WilliamBalaz

anyone who oppresses the process of government that suppress the checks and balances of a democracy would be considered a dictator sounds like morris

Brown
Brown

Morsi is a front man to a very dangerous fanatic organization based on flawed religious ideologies of the 7th century. 

It leaves me a very happy camper into 2013 he is not selected to be Time man of the year.

It would have been depressing.

adbasi9
adbasi9

Morsi is the optimal solution for Arab countries regardless the people who are supported by Jewish such as Albaradee and Omro Mosa. Morsi is the best leader among Arab presidents. 

Adel
Adel

For ages Egypt used to enjoy a tolerant, peaceful and moderate society.

There is no place for extremism, we will fight to live liberal, equal and friendly.

Adel Mostafa Ibrahim

adelonleave@gmail.com

ya3amo
ya3amo

Oh God, people here says he is a layer, been thing what would layer mean here :D 

AlHooLy
AlHooLy

Morsi♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ MorsiRead more: http://world.time.com/2012/11/28/morsis-moment/#ixzz2E60NkL9h

hassan_ismail
hassan_ismail

ارحــــــــــــــــــــــــل

hassan_ismail
hassan_ismail

الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام يسقط يسقط حكم المرشد

Tewkmanvin
Tewkmanvin

Mr. Morsi is intent upon becoming a theocratic dictator. It is interesting that neither the US nor Israesl is expressing very much concern.Should we continue to give Egypt $1 billon in aid each year? This is money that we do not have.

إنجيمحمد
إنجيمحمد

Morsi♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi ♥Morsi ♥Morsi √ Morsi♥Morsi ♥ Morsi √ Morsi

mghoneim2004
mghoneim2004

Most of Egyptians are supporting you Morsi. Go ahead and clean the remnants of the old regime

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Why is his head so small in that photo?

khagaraj
khagaraj

In Obama's language Morsi could be defined as a " bump-on-the-road " democrat.

MhmdAli
MhmdAli

Morsi is a big layer , I am one of the youth who participated in the 25th January revolution from the 1st day . I am in Tahrir square now protesting against this new dictator , who rule with the name of Islam , really a big layer . We dream with a new modern liberalized developed country ,this is our dream not a new Iran in the middle east , go to the hill Morsi .

M_Shehata1
M_Shehata1

نعم كل المصريين العاقلين يصطفون خلف رئيسهم الذى لا اشك فى نزاهته قيد انمله حتى يثبت عكس ذلك

AmrmohyEldin
AmrmohyEldin

I vote for Morsi to transfer Egypt to real democratic ,achieving our dreams & I sure he do now .People who are anti are just jealous for his success.The Egyptians trust in Morsi

zacoto
zacoto

Who are those people in Tahrir square.. Morse did what people wants him to do, Morse achieved some of the revolution goals ..I tell you who is there..the same  paid thugs that killed and beat the protesters in  2011, The thieves from the former party  that roped Egypt and gave its resources away.. the hungry power like Baradei and Sabahi ..and I promos you there are millions and millions of humbled  Morse supporters that will out number those people by far, that love and respect their president ..and are  not from the muslim brotherhood .. just like 

Anwar
Anwar

GO AHEAD MORSI, WE'RE ALL BEHIND YOU...

WaheedZakaria
WaheedZakaria

As an Egyptian, I feel like Mr. Bobby Ghosh has insulted my intelligence! Sir you are promoting the Muslim Brotherhood lies! The judges that Morsi are trying to get rid of are not part of the old regime, they are the ones who put Mubarak behind bars for God sake! how did you buy the brotherhood lies? Do you also know that article 220 of the draft constitution they are trying to pass basically implement the "rulings" and not the "principals" of the Islamic Sharia? which means that the testimony of a non-Muslim in court is void if it is challenged by a Muslim's testimony. It means the death penalty to anyone suspected of blaspheming against Islam.. it means a Taliban Egypt.. so please ask around , get your facts straight before jumping into conclusions!

NabilHanna
NabilHanna

I scorned Morsi in  dealing with true marchers ,demonstrators and protesters

mabaza
mabaza

Keep going Murci. We are all behind.

KompasCom
KompasCom

BreakNews KOMPAS.Com from Broken indonesia:

the indonesian stupid rulers must be fallen first to be the 7 new countries before solving the media's regulation. 

Demoncrats.

hsknyc
hsknyc

Morsi was able to accomplish more in his first half year as Egyptian president than all of US Presidents for the past forty years.  I say we give this guy a chance.  And if the people of Egypt want an Islamic state, let them have it.  Don't come calling to us when the building start exploding and bombs starts falling...

سليمان
سليمان

@ybe123 Of 100 million Indians were killed in North America?Do the Muslims kill them

سليمان
سليمان

@ybe123 من قتل 100 مليون هندي في امريكا الشماليه ؟ هل المسلمون فعلو ذلك

AhmedIbrahimKormod
AhmedIbrahimKormod

@MhmdAli dont speak on behalf of all egyptians, you can speak only with ppl around you, who said that i'm with what you are doing ? if 2 million in the street ( which i doubt ) out of 52 million have the right to vote, so with small math, you guys represent 3.7% thats if 2 million really on the street, so in which bases you speak on behalf of all of us, if you dont like him , so go make him go by democracy way, not by burning and killing and forcing your opinion to the rest of 97%, same talks for the ppl with him , learn the democracy man

nilefax
nilefax

@MhmdAli انا مواطن مصرى مسلم انتخبت دكتور محمد مرسى ايمانا بالفكرة الاسلامية لأن مصر دولة اسلامية ولاتناقض بين الاسلام والحداثة ومن يلوم الدول الاسلامية على تخلفها ياليته قبله يلوم على الاحتلال الغربى الصليبى لتلك الدول ويلوم ايضا على الحكام العملاء امثال حستى حمارك وشفيق

سليمان
سليمان

@akram.nabil و الشعب قال كلمته ومرسي عمل اللي هو عاوزه ليك شوق في حاجه ؟

nilefax
nilefax

@akram.nabil d'nt care mr pres morsy about felol and criminals we all support you

zacoto
zacoto

 I promise you there are  much more support Morse than you can dream of....The thugs in Tahrir do not mean the majority of people.they are being pushed by the former party thieves ..the once that do not want the country to move on, the once that roped the country..so don't be a hater...Say the truth what do you really know?!!!, and why are you there...?!!!