The struggle continues in Egypt, as millions were called to rally on Friday in massive pre-scheduled protests to hold President Mursi to account on his first 100 days in power. In addition, resistance to the committee writing Egypt’s new constitution heightened, with the release of its draft to the public. Over a week ago the calls for peaceful rallies were announced, in which slogans for “a constitution for all Egyptians” and a call for “social justice” would be aired, rallies that were reportedly supported by most of the civic and political groups and parties in Egypt. Thursday brought about two surprising developments that are expected to have consequences for Friday’s events and beyond.
The first was the acquittal of all the accused in the notorious “Battle of the camel,” for lack of conclusive evidence. The verdict was received with anger and dismay by many families of the martyrs and wounded of the January revolution. In a direct and immediate response, the Muslim Brotherhood and its party announced that they would also be joining the protests on Friday too. This decision may cause the current political struggle between those in power and their growing opposition to play out on the streets. It certainly provided the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and its followers a good excuse to be out on the streets supporting their president. It is, however, the other announcement late Thursday that is probably more indicative of change on the political scene: President Mursi has appointed Egypt’s chief public prosecutor, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, as ambassador to the Vatican.
As the news spread, the response of the judiciary was strong and immediate. The president had no right or power according to the law to remove the prosecutor or to replace him. They were quick to clarify that they were defending the law, the judiciary, and not the person of the prosecutor as such. Meanwhile, Mahmoud is reported to have refused the appointment.
Changing the current public prosecutor had been a constant revolutionary demand. Mahmoud has been in office for six years, and has often been criticized for being a man of the ousted past regime. The move, some claimed, was the start of another attempt to control the judiciary. The first attack was when the president tried and failed to reinstitute the dissolved parliament, defying the constitutional court ruling. The latest maneuver is not in reality a breach of any law, as it is clear that the president has not removed the public prosecutor from office, but rather has offered him another appointment. Nevertheless, the message is clear.
Attempts by the Brotherhood and its party to appeal to the emotional responses of Egyptians on account of the latest acquittal verdicts may serve to confuse and divert the energies of many away from the constitution and the pressing issues of social justice. As for the eternal mystery of “whodunnit,” and finding the real culprits behind the death, injury and torture of so many Egyptians, massive emotional rallies against the latest verdicts only really serve to establish a “look no further” approach.
With every bit of the struggle for freedom, Egyptians are gaining further insights into the realities of their revolution.
This article was published on the Hurriyet Daily News on Oct. 13, 2012