Protest like an Egyptian! The constitution crisis as it unfolded

Published December 18th, 2012 - 15:57 GMT

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Morsi rides high on the glory of power
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Image 1 of 12: Morsi’s power-trip: After earning kudos for almost single-handedly orchestrating a cessation of hostilities between Gaza & Israel, Morsi thought he’d treat himself to some good old-fashioned power. The President on 22 November decreed immunity for the panel drafting a new constitution and protection to the Islamist-dominant upper assembly.

Egypt's judges call for strike action against Morsi
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Image 1 of 12: The judiciary strike back: Despite round one going to Morsi, Egyptian judges went on strike following the decree adding pressure to the government to back down.

Egypt protests en-masse against Morsi's power grab
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Image 1 of 12: Tis the season to protest once more: That time again when Egyptians had a grievance and a Friday on their hands. Egyptian opposition groups came out in full force in Tahrir Square in their hundreds of thousands to protest the President’s surprise power grab.

Police clash with protestors at Tahrir
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Image 1 of 12: Police crackdown: In a scene reminiscent of the halcyon days of early 2011, anti-decree protesters came up against the full force of the police once again. Morsi tried to take the edge off his decree by emphasizing dialogue, but couldn’t dilute the tear gas and brutality rained down on the now iconic square of resistance.

Time magazine Morsi interview
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Image 1 of 12: A blur of brands: In just a week Morsi was hailed a peacemaker, statesman and savior, and denounced a pharaoh and tyrant by his opponents. By the end of the month, he was pushing a controversial draft constitution and, in an, at times bizarre, Time magazine interview, he put any mixed signals down to beginners luck and "learning how to be free".

judges blocked
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Image 1 of 12: Not over until the judges sing: Into early December and the Morsi brigade tried to stop judges from entering the country's highest court and reaching a verdict on the constitutional assembly. They wanted to block the judges who wield the final say on constitutional matters.

Constitution
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Image 1 of 12: You decide: On the back of opposition to a rushed through constitution, Morsi called a snap referendum on the country's new draft constitution in order to expedite it before the constitutional court could dissolve the assembly. This was damage control, he admitted, in order to annul the decree, which expired with the passing of the constitution.

Cairo al-Azhar
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Image 1 of 12: A contradictory constitution? Critics point to caveats in the draft, highlighting the battle for the soul of the new Egypt between conservative Islam & liberal revolutionaries. Al-Azhar were given a pivotal constitutional role - muddying the separation of religion and state (adding a fatwa banning objections to the constitution for safe measure).

Storming the presidential palace of Morsi
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Image 1 of 12: Just a little bit of history repeating: Protesters on 4 December stormed the presidential palace compound, forcing Morsi to flee in a scene reminiscent of the last days of the former Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

referendum polls- the vote begins for Egypt's constitution
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Image 1 of 12: The right not to vote: The Muslim Brotherhood declared a narrow victory in the first round of a polarizing constitutional referendum, while opposition members complained of polling violations. Voter turnout was low, estimated at between 31 and 33 percent, and widespread irregularities at polling stations were reported.

Liberal and seculars gather on the square to take on the referendum
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Image 1 of 12: Liberal shelter from the storm: In response to Morsi’s new powers and the growing clout of the Islamic judiciary, liberal groups organized more effectively than previous youth movements, creating a ‘National Salvation Front’. The umbrella group has backed protesters and independent judges and called for mass protests to reject the referendum.

Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah resigns from his position and the Morsi camp
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Image 1 of 12: Out with the new: Public prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah resigned after a furore among judges who said Morsi's decision in November to sack the former public prosecutor and appoint Mr Abdallah was an assault on their independence.

The Arab world has traditionally looked to Egypt as a leading light in politics and culture for the region. In the time since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi came to power in Egypt, he looked for a while like he was doing the Arabs proud again, and as he stridently called for Israel to back off the Palestinians in Gaza, it was a throwback to the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s. So then how did Egypt plunge into its latest round of protest mayhem?

Soon after his democratic invitation to lead the heart and soul of the Middle East into a new post-autocratic age, for a moment, there was a fighting chance that Morsi had accrued a fine bit of respect internationally and enough domestic clout to start delivering what protesters had fought for. But as winter approached the Egyptian street was heard calling their ‘spring’ President Egypt’s ‘new pharaoh’, a common and denigrating reference to Mubarak in the early days of the revolution.

After Morsi announced in a decree (he later said was passed begrudgingly) that he would effectively be above legal reproach until a new parliament was elected, it didn’t take the people long to turn on him.

He later took the sting out of his constitutional coup or power grab, softening it from any autocratic flavor and eventually scrapping it altogether. But has the damage already been done to his friendly facade?

Egypt has a tendency to change overnight, quicker than most of the Arab slow-starters who let their revolutionary habits drag out for months and years. So, with all the noise coming out of a re-energized Egypt, and given the rapid changes to have beset the country in the last few weeks, Al Bawaba thought it fitting to deliver a summary of what's gone down in protest-central for those that blinked and missed it.

 

Share your take on the latest round of the political crisis in Egypt. Have Morsi and his supporters betrayed the original goals of the revolution? Or has the president been misunderstood?

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