Mohamed Morsi and the classic revolutionary trap

Hazem Kandil writes: The barrage of international criticism against President Mohamed Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration, which places him above the law, oversimplifies Egypt’s situation and largely comes down to one sentiment: “I told you so.” The dark forces of Islamism have reneged on their commitment to democracy (as everyone expected), and are being fought tooth and nail by the gallant supporters of liberty and legality. How much simpler can it get?

Just a scratch beneath the surface reveals that this newest wave in the two-year turmoil is yet another byproduct of the paradox that has haunted the revolt from the start: how can a regime be overthrown using the very same crooked laws and legal agencies it had set up for its own protection? And how can a democratic regime emerge through the ballot box, if Egyptians simply insist on voting for whoever or whatever the Islamists endorse? Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, actually presents a convincing case.

Voters demand revolutionary changes and retribution against former president Hosni Mubarak’s cronies, yet judges still loyal to their old political masters overrule the reforms he proposes and trials are still carried out by Mubarak’s handpicked general prosecutor, a man who served the ruling party for over a decade. Little wonder that most cases brought against Mubarak’s associates flop in court.

Worse still, the country’s first elected parliament was dissolved over a legal technicality, and the committee voted to draft a new constitution functions daily under a similar threat.

At the same time, those who weep over the sanctity of the legal system include some of the old regime’s most sinister figures, now reinventing themselves as friends of freedom. And the same people who censure the president over legal violations have until recently been preaching that revolutionary justice trumps the law. [Continue reading…]

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