Why it was necessary to remove Morsi

Khaled Fahmy , Thursday 4 Jul 2013

The revolution aimed to change the rules of the game, not just its players. When it was clear that Mohamed Morsi was picking up the mantle of Mubarak, he had to go

I did not vote for Mohamed Morsi in the previous presidential elections. I invalidated my ballot in these elections because I realised that Egypt deserves better than either Morsi or Shafiq. Yet when the results were announced, I was glad because I realised that we had managed to carry out the first free and fair elections, and I considered Mohamed Morsi the legitimate president of the country, and on many occasions I have stated that my disputes with him and my lack of trust in him do not mean I deny his legitimacy.

Yet on 18 May I went to Tahrir Square and I signed the "Rebel" petition calling for the immediate departure of Mohamed Morsi, before completing his presidential term. And on 30 June I joined the millions to insist on the same demand.

What happened between June 2012 and May 2013 that prompted me to change my position?

When Mohamed Morsi won merely 51 percent of the votes, I expected him to realise that he had indeed won the presidency, and that his legitimacy is granted, true, yet it was fragile. Half of society did not vote for him, and many of those who did, did so not because they approved of him, but rather because they hated his rival. I also expected that he would realise that his country was divided, and to act as a president for all Egyptians and not as a leader of only one faction. Instead, he showed his clear preference for the Muslim Brotherhood, to which he belonged, referred to them as his "family and folk" and gave the green light for the Brotherhoodisation of the state's institutions.

And still, Mohamed Morsi remained, in my eyes, the legitimate president of the country.

And throughout the first year of his rule — together with the Muslim Brotherhood — I did even sympathise with the president. He had inherited a heavy legacy and an ailing economy, with anti-revolutionary forces working hard to abort the revolution. He also had to deal with uncooperative institutions working against him. It was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood lacked the support of four pivotal institutions: the media, the judiciary, the army and the police.

The Brotherhood grew more restless with the independent media, accusing it of being under the influence of remnants of the former regime. The matter escalated to besieging the Media Production City, while the president turned a blind eye to this attack. Then I witnessed how the government drafted a new law for civil society organisations that went way beyond anything ever attempted under Mubarak. I personally participated with a group of colleagues who work with civil society organisations in drafting a new law for freedom of information, only to see the Ministry of Justice trash our draft and produce instead a much poorer text that did not live up to our aspirations.

And still, Mohamed Morsi remained, in my eyes, the legitimate president of the country.

Then I witnessed how Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood went after the judiciary. As a student of the history of this institution, I appreciate this institution's rich and respectable legacy, yet I also realise that this institution, like many others, has been hit with corruption and a lack in efficiency during Mubarak's bleak years. And I used to think that this institution needed a serious overhaul, yet I did not expect that reform would emerge in the way brought about by the president and his Brotherhood. For they took this institution by storm when they removed the prosecutor general, replacing him with someone who did not command society's trust; and they drafted a law that would have sent to early retirement more than 3000 judges. Finally, they allowed their followers to besiege the High Constitutional Court. And to add insult to injury, the president passed his cursed constitutional declaration in November 2012 effectively putting himself above the law. In an interview with The Guardian last week, the president admitted that he did not have a hand in drafting this declaration and that it was a wrong move.  

And still, Mohamed Morsi remained, in my eyes, the legitimate president of the country.

What led me to rebel against Mohamed Morsi and to not consider him as the legitimate president of Egypt was his failure to achieve the goals of the revolution, and particularly, not standing up to the army and the police. We revolted so that we could subject the army to parliamentary supervision, and we were stunned to see the Brotherhood’s constitution maintaining all the army’s perks and privileges , allowing for military trials for civilians, exempting the army from the necessity of presenting its budget to parliamentary oversight, and ruling out the possibility of appointing a civilian as minister of defence. As for reforming the police, the president avoided every serious initiative to reform the interior ministry, and turned a blind eye to human rights violations still being committed by the police and did not put an end to the legal and structural environment that allowed for torture to spread across police stations.

Mohamed Morsi continues to speak of legitimacy, and by that he means the legitimacy of the ballot box. Yet the act of going to the ballot box was made possible, in the first place, by our revolution. This revolution did not start merely to hold fair and free elections that bring new faces and players. When I participated in the revolution with other Egyptians, my intention was changing the rules of the game and not to change the players. But when I became sure that it was not Dr Morsi's intention to change these rules but rather that he meant to play according to the same old rules, and when I realised that his priorities were attacking the judiciary and the media not purifying the interior ministry and subjecting the army to societal oversight, that was when Mohamed Morsi no longer became a legitimate president. Rather, for me he became a leader who had forgotten or missed the fact that there is a revolution that brought him to his place. This is the reason why it became necessary to rebel so that the revolution may continue.

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