Egyptian Aak: Week 8

week 8 photo

(Protesters outside of prosecutor-general office Feb 22 by Mai Shaheen. Ahram online)







A Few Thoughts

Election Law:

This week we witnessed another episode from the ongoing legislative struggle between The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) and the acting parliament (Shura Council). The SCC ruled many provisions of the proposed Elections Law and Exercise of Political Rights Law as unconstitutional. The Shura Council wasted no time; they convened, and within an amazingly short time, completed the new amendments in less than 48 hours, followed by an announcement from the presidency setting election dates. Egypt’s Source has 2 interesting pieces about the crisis:The unconstitutionality of the election law, and the potential upcoming crisis as a result of article 177 of the constitution.

Another aspect of the court verdict that many overlooked but that Evan Hill mentioned in his comprehensive summary is military service service. It is well known that many Islamist activists were deferred (often permanently) from military service for “security reasons.” The SCC stated that military service is a must for any candidate, thus denying many Islamists the right to enter the parliament because they were once considered risky to national security by Mubarak’s regime; this is a clearly unjust view, but revoking it without assessment of individual cases is not necessarily justice. As the Shura council has decided to ignore the SCC’s verdict regarding military service, Egypt might elect MPs with direct links to terrorist groups including many already flourishing in Sinai.

To Boycott or Not to Boycott?

There is some logic behind the opposition call to boycott the election. Previous experience predicts an Islamist collective majority in the next parliament; therefore, participation would only grant legitimacy to the election, which the Brotherhood will use in the international arena to enforce its image as a group of democrats and secure loans and cooperation.

In addition, the Brotherhood has tried to stir division between the reformist and the revolutionary camp within the national coalition, which is why leaders like ElBaradei has opted for unity and sided with Sabahi, who will probably boycott the election regardless of circumstances.

The long election process, together with the current despair among ordinary Egyptians and the wave of civil disobedience (which starts to spread to other provinces) will probably result in a low turnout; the statement of Rafiq Habib regarding civil disobedience reflects the fears of this potential risk. That is why I find the Egyptian case to be exempt from the common wisdom that boycotting is a bad idea, and I think a boycott may be effective this time.

Port Said

The ongoing turmoil in Port Said is a powerful example of Egypt’s failed leadership. As civil disobedience in the city has entered its 7th day, the Egyptian leadership’s response, apart from tired rhetoric of praising “the defiant city,” included an announcement of a development plan with allocated LE400m to the Canal provinces and a proposal to reopen Port Said’s Duty Free Zone. This prompted an angry response from Port Said, as many viewed it as a cheap bribe and wondered if this is the value of their victims in the eye of the Egyptian government. The people of Port Said wanted justice, accountability, and truth regarding what had really happened on the 26th of January following the court verdict that most perceived as unjust, as well as the violence that erupted after, leading to more loss of lives.

Port Said lost not only lost a trade zone, but also the privilege of exclusive trading of 100 items including textile without custom tariff. The parliament’s 2002 law aimed to shut down the free zone within 5 years has been postponing the decision ever since; however, the complicated legal situation meant that most of the privileges attached to the trading zone were effectively stopped.

The way Morsi will deal with Port Said could define his legacy and even his longevity as a president; ignoring the problem with the hope that resentment will dissipate slowly will never work. Port Said’s challenge to Morsi is thus: “either do or die.”


Discussion about Egypt’s economic crisis has become stale. What is new is the continuing delusional blunder. As the Islamists repetitively stated that loan interest rates are “un-Islamic,” they ignore the complexity of modern economics. What is even more breathtaking is hearing some of them state that Egypt has not yet reached the risky level that justifies acceptance of the lawn under the Islamic terms: “Necessity justifies the forbidden.” Clearly, news like that about the wheat supply  has not yet filtered in their minds. In addition, they maintain their obsession with Islamic bonds (that once were rejected by Al-Azhar as un-Islamic) as the Holy Grail of economic salvation.


Another alarming trend I have noticed among political elite is to call on Al-Azhar to ratify government decisions. If we really want to avoid emulating the Iranian model, it is important not to drag Al-Azhar into day-to-day decisions. Egypt has a constitution that was made to measure Islamist demands − is that not enough?

A Question of Priorities

Remember the Brotherhood’s charming offensive during their visit to the U.S.? “I asked skeptically about alcohol, peace with Israel, and the veil. Sondos, who wears a hijab, insisted that the Brotherhood wasn’t considering any changes in these areas and that its priority is simply jobs.” Now the new ban of selling alcohol reflects the Brotherhood’s broken promises. I am not a decedent person who wants my country to sell alcohol, but I want observers to focus, for a change, on the Islamists’ flawed priorities.

Good Read

and here is Jayson Casper prayers for Egypt

About nervana111

Doctor, blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues. The only practising doctor who write in Middle Eastern politics in UK.
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