Egypt's President May Rival Mubarak; Some Fear That Morsi and Fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood Will Stifle Democracy

By Hendawi, Hamza | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 15, 2012 | Go to article overview

Egypt's President May Rival Mubarak; Some Fear That Morsi and Fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood Will Stifle Democracy


Hendawi, Hamza, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


CAIRO - Egypt's Islamist president has given himself the right to legislate, and control over the drafting of a new constitution. He has installed at the top of the powerful military a defense minister likely to be beholden to him.

Under Mohammed Morsi's authority, officials have moved to silence influential critics in the media. And though a civilian, he declared himself in charge of military operations against militants in the Sinai peninsula.

Over the weekend, Morsi ordered the retirement of the defense minister and chief of staff and reclaimed key powers the military seized from him days before he took office on June 30. With that, Egypt's first freely elected president - a 60-year-old, U.S.- educated engineer - amassed in his own hands powers that rival those of his ousted authoritarian predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

If left unchecked, there are fears that Morsi and his fundamentalist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, could turn the clock back on the country's tumultuous shift to democratic rule and pursue their goal of someday turning the most populous Arab nation into an Islamic state.

The Brotherhood already won parliamentary and presidential elections after the uprising last year that forced Mubarak out. The question now is whether there is any institution in the country that can check the power of Morsi and the Brotherhood.

"Are we looking at a president determined to dismantle the machine of tyranny ... or one who is retooling the machine of tyranny to serve his interests, removing the military's hold on the state so he can lay the foundations for the authority of the Brotherhood?" prominent rights activist and best-selling novelist Alaa al-Aswani wrote in an article published Tuesday in an independent daily. …

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