Thus, the banner raised by one protester about a year ago at a demonstration in Tahrir Square, on which was written “Down with the Next President”, was not a mere joke, but rather a sign revealing where the situation would end up in Egypt, after the forces that sparked the Revolution, carried it out, participated in it and toppled the Mubarak regime caused it to be vilified, to fail and to threaten the integrity of the state, the safety of its citizens and the security of its territory. It has become clear that any president other than Doctor Mohammed Mursi sitting on the presidential seat would have faced the same situations he has, ever since he reached the seat of the presidency. However, the difference would have been in the way he would have dealt with them, in a manner leading to the suppression of civil strife and to preparing the atmosphere for dealing with the ills of the past calmly and without any uproar, as well as to laying the foundations for a modern state; or in a manner that would threaten with continued anarchy, the spread of bullying, the loss of rights, the absence of the law and the collapse of the state. Indeed, the scenes of fighting and violence that took place yesterday in Tahrir Square between the President’s supporters and the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and the remaining forces on the other, have turned the place from the Revolution’s square to a battlefield for war between revolutionary factions. The scene thus reflected the political situation in the country, the prevailing confusion among everyone, and the climate that was imposed by major elite figures from all movements on each other, making every side believe that it alone had the right to run the political scene without recognizing the rights of other parties to participate in some of its power.
It is the natural result of the failures of the political elites, their conflicts and the state of polarization they have imposed on people. The fight in Tahrir is only the other face of the confusion of the political scene, which became strongly apparent during the crisis surrounding the Attorney-General.
Indeed, there is no difference between the conflicts of political forces, which have turned into confrontation in which blood was shed in Tahrir once again, and the disagreements of state institutions, the President and his party on the one hand, and the judicial branch of government on the other, which have turned into a major crisis that could have been avoided.
What is certain is that Mursi had not been expecting Attorney-General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud to adopt such a strict stance, rejecting the decision to appoint him as Egypt’s Ambassador to the Vatican. Moreover, it seems that the President’s advisers, and they are many, suggested that he announce the decision through the media without informing Mahmoud, as a means to embarrass and pressure him, and imagined that the Attorney-General would accept the Vatican “carrot”. But his response was the decision to become party to the crisis rather than its victim, and to cling to the law of the judicial branch of government which bars the Attorney-General from being removed by any authority in the state except for the Supreme Judicial Council, which is in charge of holding members of the judiciary and of the public prosecution to account, including the Attorney-General if he were to commit a grave mistake that would reach the extent of being intentional. What took place in Tahrir Square yesterday widened the rift between the Islamist movement – and with it the state institutions it governs – on the one hand, and the remaining political forces on the other. The crisis surrounding the Attorney-General warns of the collapse of the judicial system as a prelude to the collapse of the state! The procedure for holding the judiciary, the Attorney-General and members of the public prosecution to account is present in the law, but it does not include meeting a popular demand with a decision that goes against the law.
Instead of political forces managing their disputes within the confines of the country’s interests, they have wrestled, quarreled and fought in the Revolution’s square. And instead of managing the battle of removing the Attorney-General smoothly, without departing from the law and through means that fulfill a popular demand, by doing so without clashing with the judiciary, the issue has turned into yet another crisis for a country that has not been spared for a year and a half, while Egyptians had imagined that the last of their crises had ended with the toppling of the Mubarak regime!
President Mursi is in need of a different climate from the one he is working in now, a climate that would enable him to put forward a vision to people and programs that would meet their demands. But the tragedy is that those who oppose him consider his existence to be the problem, while his party and his supporters and his “Society” consider those who oppose him to represent the crisis and the “problem”! On the whole, Mursi is the President and the people are expecting initiatives from him that would restore calm to the street, unity to the square and trust in it to the judiciary. And the role of the Society of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the remaining forces that support the President should be to help him create such a climate, not to inflame conflicts or spark crises. All revolutionary forces used to always accuse a third party of provoking problems, spreading chaos and attacking revolutionaries – by which of course they would mean the followers of the former regime. Yesterday witnessed the absence of such a third party and the appearance of a “fourth party”, made up of a mix of all the forces active on the scene. They were all present in Tahrir Square, with the crisis surrounding the Attorney-General and the “Battle of the Camel” issue in the background. Blood was shed and millions of people witnessed it live, so as for no one to later say that the evidence has been lost. Yet those who had gone there had not brought their minds along!
The writer is a columnist at the London-based al-Hayat, where this article was published on Oct. 14, 2012