Morsi's praise of army generals leaves some revolutionaries cold

Ahram Online, Sunday 1 Jul 2012

Speech by Egypt's new president, with its praise for military's role during transition period, disappoints some revolutionaries who have been protesting against the generals since Mubarak's ouster

Egypt's new President Mohamed Mursi delivers a speech at Cairo University 30 June, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

President Mohamed Morsi's inauguration speech at Cairo University on Saturday left a number of revolutionaries disappointed at what they considered to be his conciliatory words towards the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

During the speech, Morsi thanked both the Armed Forces and the SCAF for successfully guarding the country's interests since the fall of Mubarak.  

"I left the speech disappointed," said Mohamed El-Kassas, a member of the liberal-Islamist Egyptian Current Party and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. "It was much weaker than the one he gave in Tahrir Square [on Friday]. We were told to be quiet when we started to chant against military rule in the university hall, and he complimented the military council too much."  

The SCAF has been accused by revolutionaries and some human rights groups of committing multiple violations against human rights and stifling the transition to democracy to secure special priviiges in a new Egypt.

Ahmed Maher of the April 6 Youth Movement, who had supported Morsi in the president election runoff, told Ahram Online he was dissatisfied with the speech.

"In the Friday speech [in Tahrir Square], Morsi talked of the legitimacy of the revolution…his speech was reassuring…today, on the contrary, it was too political," said Maher whose group was once accused by the SCAF of receiving foreign funding to undermine stability in the country.

Maher added that he was unhappy to hear Morsi thank the SCAF and when audience members chanted against the junta they were shouted down by pro-SCAF chants of "the people and the military are one hand."

"[Morsi] thanking the SCAF only made our position weaker," complained Maher.

Prominent activist Nawara Negm wrote on her official Twitter account that she was thankful she had refused an invitation to attend the speech.

"Thank God I refused to go," said Negm who was targeted by the SCAF at one point for her criticism of the generals.

Negm added that she declined the invitation after she learned members of the SCAF would be attending the speech.

El-Kassas added that in comparison to his speech on Friday, Morsi's speech on Saturday was too complementary to the SCAF and too full of contradictions.

"Why did he say Egypt would not export the revolution after he had just stressed that defending freedom was an important goal? Egypt played an important role in influencing other Arab revolutions so why did he have to make such a statement," remarked El-Kassas.

Activist Asmaa Mahfouz, who boycotted the elections but called for people to support Morsi after his electoral win to help him achieve the revolution's goals, also said she was glad she did not attended the inauguration speech.

"After I heard the chants in support of the armed forces and Morsi repeatedly thanking the SCAF, I was relieved I didn't go," said Mahfouz who had faced questioning by military prosecutors for her anti-SCAF positions.

Although she had initially planned to attend what she described as a "historic moment," Mahfouz decided not to attend when she learned Morsi would be swearing his oath of presidential office before the High Constitutional Court (HCC) as mandated by the SCAF's 17 June constitutional addendum after the generals dissolved parliament.

"How can I be against the constitutional declaration addendum [which limits presidential powers], then celebrate Morsi's inauguration after he swore the oath at the court?" remarked Mahfouz.

Mohamed Morsi swore his oath of office at the court rather than the parliament due to article 30 of the constitutional addendum issued by the SCAF on 17 June 2012. The SCAF dissolved the parliament with the same addendum.

Morsi's decision to take the oath in court was an implicit acceptance of the addendum, according to critics, although this has been denied by several Brotherhood members.

Morsi has made three speeches in recent days: on Friday in Tahrir Square, and on Saturday at Cairo University and the Hikestep military training headquarters.   

At the Hikestep speech, Morsi, again, thanked the SCAF for its role in maintaining national security during the transition period and promised to honour its members in a special ceremony at the end of their tenure.                         

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