Now that Mohammed Morsi’s presidential decisions can no longer be revoked by any authority, what is to stop Egypt from returning to the authoritarian days of the Hosni Mubarak regime? How has this been allowed to happen when so many thousands of people protested exhaustingly – several hundred giving their lives in the process – to help create a more democratic society in Egypt?
Morsi will no doubt use the same justification for his powers that Mubarak historically did; that a strong president can bring stability for the population. But this argument can no longer hold. Egyptian society is not stable. Many people campaigned for political and social freedoms that they thought would arrive after the fall of Mubarak. All they have received are empty promises, military repression and unrelenting violence. The angry response to the unveiling of Morsi’s new powers reveals how politically mobilised Egyptian society has become. People are fearless; they are accustomed to instability.
Therefore, why should Morsi’s claims that he is the guardian of stability matter? Even if he were to return stability to Egypt, it would be the same kind of tense stability that existed during the Mubarak years, one which encompassed little political or social freedom. The Egyptian people have almost unanimously vetoed this status. More worryingly, Morsi’s insistence that he is leading his country on a path to “freedom and democracy” is likely to be incendiary rather than relieving. Quite simply, all his actions since coming to office democratically have been undemocratic. He has strengthened his own position at the expense of the legislature, illegally removed potential opponents to his authority such as Mohamad Tantawi and Sami Anan, whilst simultaneously undermining religious minorities by associating himself with a searing brand of Islam that is far from democratic.
It is to be hoped that Morsi’s decisions are driven by the desire to establish a solid power base from which he can enact his democratic promises. The likelihood is, however, far more sinister. One thing is for sure. If Morsi reneges on his promises and attempts to kill the spirit of the “Arab Spring”, its proponents will let him know with all their might.