Egypt Islamists praise Morsi address, opposition decries it as 'unrealistic'
Zeinab El Gundy, Thursday 27 Jun 2013
Islamist parties and groups hail president's Wednesday night address as 'positive,' while Egypt's non-Islamist opposition voices unanimous disappointment


President Mohamed Morsi's speech Wednesday night marking the end of his first term in office met a warm reception by Egyptian Islamist parties and politicians but was panned by most opposition figures and groups.

Gamal Hashmet, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and Shura Council MP, praised the speech.

"The address constituted a warning to all those who want to terrorise the public and sow violence," Hashmet told Ikhwan Online, the official website of Muslim Brotherhood.

He added that the president's message succeeded in reaching the Egyptian people, along with the political opposition, stressing that the public would "think long and hard" about the president's decisions, which, he said, "will surely affect opposition protests" against Morsi's rule planned for 30 June.

Magdi Kurkur, leading member of the Islamist-leaning New Labour Party said that Morsi spoke with "complete objectivity," admitting to "several mistakes" during his first year in office.

"The speech will affect the outcome of the 30 June [anti-Morsi] protests but won't stop them, since there are those who want to protest for their own interests," Kurkur told Ikhwan Online.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref, for his part, believes the speech was "positive."

"The speech was directed at everybody. The opposition isn't expected to oppose or endorse it, but rather stop its political support for violence," Aref told Ikhwan Online on Thursday.

Morsi also warned the opposition and media several times in his speech. He even warned that he would refer anyone found insulting him in his capacity as military commander-in-chief to military trial.

Opposition unimpressed

Opposition parties and groups, for their part, condemned Morsi's address.

Ahmed Saeed, leader of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, believes Morsi's speech actually insulted the office of the presidency at a time when millions of Egyptians had expected him to present a vision for national reconciliation ahead of next week's pro- and anti-government rallies.

"I don't have anything to say to Morsi about this shocking speech except that it's unacceptable to insult the judiciary; it's unacceptable not to stop the attack against the armed forces; and it's unacceptable to have a president threatening his opponents – politicians and journalists alike – with no respect for the law," Saeed said Thursday morning on the private ONtv satellite television channel.

In his speech, Morsi accused several judges – by name – of corruption, asking how Mubarak-era figures had been acquitted by Egypt's court system while subsequently asserting his "total respect" for the judiciary.

"President Morsi spoke about pseudo-achievements that did not happen during his term; he even held the people responsible for all of Egypt's problems and crises blaming them for all the recent political protests," Saeed added.

The Strong Egypt Party also slammed the speech, accusing Morsi of using the same wording that ousted president Hosni Mubarak had often used. Morsi, he said, appeared to be speaking "about another Egypt, one that does not exist in the real word."

"The president's speech not only revealed that Egypt is split into two opposing camps thanks to polarisation, but it is also split into two Egypts: a real one and a virtual one," the party declared in a Thursday press statement.

"The lack of security and fuel, along with the absence of accountability, will not be resolved with jokes or chants or new promises," the party added, referring to the president's use of jokes and anecdotes in his address.

The party went on to reiterate its demand for early presidential elections.

Ayman Nour, leader of the liberal Ghad Al-Thawra Party, for his part, called Morsi's speech "disappointing."

"The speech did not offer the minimum concession needed to stop the anger of millions of Egyptians," read a party statement.
"Aside from the announcement of the formation of a committee tasked with hearing recommendations for constitutional amendments, the president ignored all the demands of the political powers and parties."

The Ghad Al-Thawra Party also voiced rejection of what Morsi said regarding Egypt's judiciary and judicial independence, going on to stress its endorsement of upcoming 30 June rallies.

Leftist activist Khaled Ali, a former presidential candidate, likewise slammed Morsi's speech.

"Every phrase he used shows that revolting against this regime is a national duty," he said via Twitter. "President Morsi doesn't realise the extent of the anger against his rule."

Gamal Zahran, former Nasserist MP and member of the Nasserist-leaning Egyptian Popular Current, accused Morsi of "lying" in his speech regarding the size of the foreign debt accrued by Egypt during the Nasser era.

"Morsi's and the Muslim Brotherhood's hatred of Gamal Abdel-Nasser has reached the point where they're spreading false information," Zahran said via Twitter. "Egypt's debt in 1970 stood at only $1,600,000,000, not $5 billion as Morsi claimed."

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