A Return To Tahrir?

Nov 27 2012 @ 2:58pm

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More than 100K protesters took to Tahrir Square today against President Morsi’s recent power grab. Video here. Abdel-Rahman Hussein reports from the scene:

[Many] marchers – who took to the streets in numbers similar to those that toppled Mubarak – called for Morsi not merely to rescind his decree but to step down from the presidency. The iconic chant of the 2011 revolution – “The people want to bring down the regime” – was echoed in other major Egyptian cities, including Alexandria and Suez. Police continuously fired tear gas not far from Tahrir Square, and fighting between police and protesters continued nearby even while people continued to mill in.

Al Jazeera catches us up on yesterday’s developments:

On Monday, Morsi met with the nation’s top judges and tried to win their acceptance of his decrees. But the move was dismissed by many in the opposition and the judiciary as providing no real concessions. The senior judges that were in that meeting with Morsi on Monday night “are right now in an emergency session, trying to come up with one united stance – an answer to that meeting”, according to our correspondent. Presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali, said Morsi told the judges that he acted within his rights as the nation’s sole source of legislation, assuring them that the decrees were temporary and did not in any way infringe on the judiciary. He underlined repeatedly that the president had no plans to change or amend his decrees.

It appears that most of the country’s judges have gone on strike. Michael Wahid Hanna contends that “Morsi’s majoritarian mindset is not anti-democratic per se, but depends upon a distinctive conception of winner-takes-all politics and the denigration of political opposition.” He continues:

As opposed to mustering a more durable and broad-based consensus for change and reform, Morsi’s fateful step ensured that the divisions that have marred the post-Mubarak era will only be heightened and more irreconcilable. More broadly, this recurrent pattern raises fundamental questions about the Brotherhood’s commitment to an inclusive democratic process in which compromise and consensus are necessary ingredients. At root, the Muslim Brotherhood believes that it represents the authentic voice of Egyptian society and that its years of repression and its impressive electoral victories have invested it with the right to implement its agenda. As opposed to undertaking the arduous and difficult task of negotiating consensus outcomes, the Brotherhood now seems intent on eschewing the give and take of democratic politics and monopolizing political power. Egypt may step back from the brink yet again, but Morsi’s ill-conceived gambit will have poisoned the body politic and exacerbated the chronic and manifest flaws of the country’s transition. At a moment when a consensus outcome is most needed, that possibility will have been foreclosed.

Steven Cook expects the protests to continue:

No one doubted that there would be setbacks in Egypt’s transition, but Morsi and his Brothers have failed to grasp that after 60 years of suffering under strongmen, Egyptians will not tolerate authoritarian detours in the name of democracy. Wasn’t the State of Emergency temporary? Weren’t Mubarak and the National Democratic Party always employing authoritarian measures “to prepare the country for democracy”? For the Egyptians who have turned out into the streets to protest Morsi’s decree, it all seems depressingly familiar, right down to the violence the government has employed to suppress them.

The Guardian is live-blogging.

(Photo: Tens of thousands people take part in a mass rally against a decree by President Mohamed Morsi granting himself broad powers on November 27, 2012 at Egypt’s landmark Tahrir Square in Cairo. By Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)