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Don’t rush to judge Morsi’s edict

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 00:11

In Tahrir Square, thousands are protesting a decision made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that would eliminate judicial review over most of his decisions. 
As difficult as it may be to assume Morsi’s good intentions in a country so accustomed to political manipulation, it is still too early to mark him as a power-hungry dictator without understanding the political climate in Egypt.  
The protests are in reaction to an edict Morsi enacted that would allow him to rule without judicial review until the judiciary can finalize a new constitution. Jihad Haddad, a political advisor to Morsi, told CNN that Morsi’s edict was a necessary tactic in regards to Morsi’s push to charge those who fought and killed Egyptian revolutionaries during the uprising and eventually force them to face trial.

But, Haddad said, the Prosecutor General has issued a series of acquittals on Egypt’s former leader Hosni Mubarak’s highest officials.  
It has been less than two years since Egypt joined the Arab Spring revolution, overthrowing Hosni Mubarak, which led to its first democratic election. Morsi came into power in a country that had no formal constitution, no parliamentary institutions and no former declaration that stated what powers the president holds. In fact it was Morsi who started the procedures to develop the legislative institutions that could create a constitution so that his powers would be defined democratically. Those who claim that Morsi’s edict was a search to heighten his power do not take into consideration that Morsi has already begun creating institutions that limit the executive branch’s power.

Egyptians have fought valiantly to ensure that their government retains a system of checks and balances, and it is reasonable to assume that any concentration of power can become dangerous. However, Morsi has made it clear that his intentions were neither to deprive Egyptians of anything nor increase his power for nefarious purposes.

One cannot rush to judge Morsi’s actions unless the whole story is understood. Transitioning Egypt from a dictatorship to a democracy is going to be a daunting task, as America has been a democracy for over 200 years and still gets it wrong from time to time. We still debate it today.    
Egypt’s push toward democracy has made incredible strides since Mubarak’s ousting and undoubtedly has many tribulations to come. But the process will take time, and the fact that Egyptians are able to make their voices heard and vote, via ballots and with their feet, is a push in the right direction.

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