December 7, 2012 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 907

Egypt Under Muslim Brotherhood Rule: The Constitutional Declaration – Dictatorship In The Name Of The Revolution

December 7, 2012 | By N. Shamni*
Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 907


Less than two years after the ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, calls of "the people want to topple the regime" are again heard in Cairo's Tahrir Square. This time around, tens of thousands of protestors are demanding the removal of the regime of President Muhammad Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) figure who took power only five months ago.

Criticism of Mursi in Egyptian society, which has been evident for months, focuses on the claim that he has not kept his promises before and immediately following his election. One promise was to improve the lives of Egyptians by instituting significant improvements in the domains of security, transportation, food, fuel, and sanitation in his first 100 days in office, raising expectations that were subsequently dashed. Egyptians counted down the days, but the anticipated changes did not materialize. Furthermore, Mursi promised to act as president of all Egyptians, not only of the MB and its supporters. Instead, according to his critics, he is repressing the country's citizens and has taken numerous powers for himself – reminiscent of the Mubarak era. Moreover, they claim he is promoting the "Muslim Brotherhoodization" of the country, which is to say turning Egypt into a state in which all centers of power are held by the MB, which uses them to instill its views – for example, by changing school curricula in order to indoctrinate pupils with MB ideology.

This criticism erupted into mass protests in the latter half of November 2012, as Mursi was engaged in mediating between Israel and Hamas during Operation Pillar of Defense. The protests gained momentum following his announcement, coming immediately after the signing of the ceasefire that he brokered, of resolutions giving him more extensive powers than ever. These resolutions, which came in the form of a constitutional declaration he issued on November 22, 2012, stripped the Egyptian judicial system of the power to appeal his decisions, thus giving constitutional validity to his status as ultimate arbiter in the country – far exceeding his powers as head of the executive authority.

In the two weeks since the release of the constitutional declaration, Mursi has even sped up the process of approval of the draft of the new Egyptian constitution, and, following marathon sessions of the Constituent Assembly, he declared on December 1, 2012, that there would be a referendum in two weeks, on December 15. In this way, Mursi made it impossible for the judiciary to deal with lawsuits calling for disbanding the Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly. These moves sparked broad public criticism, which led to a raging public debate in the country on the issue of the draft constitution. Large demonstrations, some of them violent, are currently taking place across the country on a daily basis, both in protest against, and in support of, Mursi's moves.

It is apparent that the legitimacy and support that Mursi has received from the international community, particularly the U.S., for his foreign policy has led him to feel immune to Western criticism, which emboldened him to make such a far-reaching move at home. But domestically, this move went too far, and led to protests. The public has refused to stand idly by as Mursi has taken steps aimed at neutralizing the centers of power in the country that could possibly undermine his authority, and at concentrating executive, legislative, and judicial powers in the hands of the president.

1. Taking over the media: Mursi's first move was to take over the Fourth Estate and the "watchdog of democracy" by replacing the communications minister with an MB member; replacing the editors of the state newspapers and the heads of their boards of directors; banning newspapers that criticized him; and taking legal measures against newspapers that published "false reports" against him and the MB.

2. Neutralizing the SCAF: Next, Mursi took over the authorities of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), until then the main center of power in post-revolutionary Egypt, by removing, in August 2012, the military leaders, starting with SCAF chairman Muhammad Hussein Tantawi and military chief of staff Sami 'Anan, and moving on to the chiefs of the air, land, and naval forces, the military intelligence and military police, and the presidential guard. Concurrently, in August 2012, Mursi revoked the supplementary constitutional declaration issued by the SCAF upon its establishment, and issued a constitutional declaration in which he stripped the SCAF of its authority to take decisions in the military and security domains.

3. Taking over legislative powers: In his constitutional declaration of August 2012, Mursi also took over all legislative authorities until the date of the ratification of a new constitution – since the People's Council, in charge of legislation, had been disbanded in June 2012 by order of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

4. Taking over judiciary powers: For months, Mursi has been challenging the judiciary, a major center of power in Egypt that zealously defends its independence. First, in June 2012, he revoked the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court regarding the disbanding of the People's Council; however, he backed down after the move was criticized. Following that, he fired the prosecutor-general, but then reinstated him.

In the past two weeks, the regime and the judiciary collided head-on when, on November 22, 2012, Mursi issued a new constitutional declaration significantly expanding his powers, and ruled that no element in the country, including the courts, had the power to appeal his decisions. He again removed the prosecutor general, this time appointing a new one; he ordered the renewal of investigations and trials of members of the previous regime responsible for the deaths of protestors; and he stripped the constitutional court of its right to order the disbanding of the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament which has an MB majority.[1]

5. Bulletproofing the MB's status as drafter of the new constitution: With his new constitutional declaration, Mursi gave the Constituent Assembly a two-month extension so that it could work through internal disputes and finish its task. Additionally, Mursi removed the Supreme Constitutional Court's power to disband the assembly, as the date by which the court was to have ruled on cases filed by liberal-secular elements to disband the assembly loomed near. The cases argued that the assembly was not representative of the population because most of its members are from the Islamic factions, and the majority of these are MB members. A short time after the new constitutional declaration, the committee completed its preparation of the constitution, and a date for the referendum on it was quickly set – a move perceived by many as proof of the MB's attempt to hijack the constitution.

Previous MEMRI reports have focused on Mursi's moves since he took office, his takeover of the media, his neutralization of the SCAF, and his takeover of legislative powers.[2] This report will focus on Mursi's most recent move, in which he has concentrated powers in his hands and removed them from the judiciary, as well as on other moves by which he has firmly been establishing the power of MB members in the regime –all this against the backdrop of disappointment and frustration in the Egyptian street over his actions and the general sense that the goals of the revolution have not materialized.[3]

Taking Over The Judiciary

As noted, in the past few months, Mursi has taken several steps in an attempt to neutralize the remaining center of power in Egypt – the judiciary, which has always been known as a powerful and influential element that zealously defends its independence. In the past few months, Mursi has taken two flagrant steps against the judiciary: first, he rescinded the Supreme Constitutional Court ruling disbanding the People's Council, and then he removed the prosecutor-general. Ultimately, he reversed both these moves following public outcry, but they nonetheless enraged the public, and the judges themselves accused him of undermining the separation of powers.

The struggle over disbanding the People's Council: The People's Assembly, elected, after the revolution, in January 2011 and with an MB majority, was disbanded in June 2012 by the Supreme Constitutional Court, which ruled that the People's Assembly elections had not been constitutional because both party lists and independent candidates had run.[4] The disbanding of the assembly sparked protests by many who claimed that the judiciary was infected with political motives, and called on Mursi to use his authority as president to reinstate it.[5]

In July 2012, Mursi revoked the Constitutional Court's ruling disbanding the People's Assembly, and decided to reconvene it.[6] Mursi was criticized for this interference in the affairs of the judiciary and for taking steps that were not within his jurisdiction, with the aim of serving the MB and not the Egyptian public as a whole.[7] In response to Mursi's move, the Supreme Constitutional Court reaffirmed its ruling disbanding the People's Assembly, and ordered to cancel Mursi's decision to reconvene it. In the end, Mursi submitted to the judiciary's pressure, and issued a communiqué announcing that he was bound by its rulings, including the ruling disbanding the People's Assembly, and expressing his commitment to preserving proper relations and preventing any conflict among the authorities.[8]

The struggle over the firing of the prosecutor-general: A new struggle between Mursi and the judiciary erupted following Mursi's decision on October 11, 2012, apparently under pressure from his advisors, to fire prosecutor-general 'Abd Al-Magid Mahmoud and appoint him ambassador to the Vatican. The firing came on the backdrop of public protests over a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling exonerating defendants accused of killing protestors in the February 2011 "Battle of the Camel" in Tahrir Square, in which members of the Mubarak regime rode camels into crowds of protestors, killing 11 and wounding some 2,000.[9] Following the ruling, Mursi wrote via his Twitter account that the world would not stand for this renunciation of the blood of the martyrs who had sacrificed themselves for the homeland.[10]

Mursi's October 11, 2012 tweet[11]

The prosecutor general refused to accept his removal, declaring that he was remaining on duty and arguing that, under the law, the president had no power to remove him. He won support from the Judges Club, which stated that his firing constituted interference in the work of the judiciary.[12] Two days after the firing, Mursi reversed the decision and agreed that the prosecutor-general would remain in his post – a move that many saw as a clear victory for the judiciary.[13]

The new constitutional declaration precluding the appeal of any decision by Mursi: The height of the struggle between Mursi and the judiciary came on November 22, 2012, when he issued the constitutional declaration significantly expanding his powers. He again removed the prosecutor-general, and this time appointed a new one; he ordered a two-month extension for the Constituent Assembly, which comprises mostly Islamic and MB representatives; and ruled that the Supreme Constitutional Court was not entitled to disband either it or the Shura Council, which also has an MB majority. Also in his constitutional declaration, Mursi ruled that no decision made by him can be appealed by any judicial element until a new constitution is in place and a new People's Assembly elected.[14]

With this move, Mursi neutralized the Supreme Constitutional Court's power to rule on lawsuits calling for disbanding the Shura Council, and also on lawsuits filed by secular and liberal elements to disband the Constituent Assembly. These lawsuits claimed that the assembly's makeup was not representative of Egyptian society, and the court was scheduled to rule on them in early December 2012. Mursi's constitutional declaration thus gave the Constituent Assembly immunity, and ensured that the present draft of the constitution, which was largely composed to suit the MB's interests, would be the one put to referendum.

It should be noted that Mursi's constitutional declaration also included steps aimed at placating opponents who had connections with the revolution. As stated, he ordered a renewal of the investigations and trials of former regime officials responsible for the deaths of protestors, and also increased compensation for families of those wounded and killed in the revolution. He also carefully reiterated his concern for those killed in the revolution, tweeting: "Today, the real vengeance for the blood of the martyrs, to which I am committed, has begun."

Mursi's November 22, 2012 tweet[15]

This constitutes an example of the pattern of behavior of "two steps forward, one step back" employed by Mursi: when criticism of him increases, or when he makes a move that could encounter opposition, he hastens to make another move aimed at placating those of his critics who are connected to the revolution. Thus, he has implemented numerous measures to punish members of the Mubarak regime, in order to appease the families of those killed and injured in the January 25 revolution and thereby prove he is upholding the revolution. He has repeatedly emphasized how important the revolution and its victims are to him, in order to divert attention from the steps he has taken to strengthen his regime and concentrate his authority, without providing actual answers to Egypt's economic crisis and the demands for democracy.

Another example of this pattern came in his October 6, 2012 speech marking the anniversary of the October War (i.e. the Yom Kippur War), in which he stated that he had kept most of his promises, especially those connected with security. This speech was widely panned, and was called laconic and empty, and lacking a clear vision for the future of Egypt.[16] A few days after his failed speech, Mursi ordered all prisoners of the revolution freed, in a move perceived as an attempt to cover up his failure and direct attention elsewhere.[17]

Along with these moves to reduce the judiciary's powers, the MB launched a political and media offensive against the Supreme Constitiutional Court aimed at justifying Mursi's constitutional declaration. As part of this offensive, the MB posted on its website numerous articles accusing the judiciary of acting out of political motives.[18] In his column in the Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' daily, Karim 'Abd Al-Salam wrote: "The march of vengeance against the Supreme Constitutional Court, which has been written, staged, and presented to the people by the MB movement, is destroying one of the foundations of the Egyptian state – with no national responsibility whatsoever, and no view of what the future might hold if damage is done to the honor of the Constitutional Court or the status of its revered judges."[19]

The Judiciary Comes Out Against Mursi

The judges reacted strongly to Mursi's moves. Appeals Court President Dr. Madhat Muhammad Sa'd Al-Din published an op-ed in the daily Al-Ahram pointedly criticizing Mursi's constitutional declaration against the judiciary. Stating that the recent constitutional declaration had no legal basis and that its articles contradicted each other, he said: "[The declaration] opens by stating that it honors the statements of the constitutional declaration of March 2011 – but it [actually] honors nothing. The March 2011 declaration states that the judiciary is independent and that none of the state authorities may interfere with its work... but the president ignored this declaration, enraging the judiciary by giving immunity to all his decisions... and banning appeals against them in any way or before any judicial element." Sa'd Al-Din added that the constitutional declaration was one link in a long chain of actions "aimed at restricting the freedoms of the public and the individual Egyptian's right to appeal to the judiciary... because [the declaration] included in its articles a cancellation of appeals [to disband] the Constituent Assembly and the Shura Council."

Sa'd Al-Din then expressed his opposition to the decision to restrict the prosecutor-general's term to four years, arguing that this was not a political position such as the presidency that must be limited, and noted his fear that such a restriction would presage a limit to the term of any judge who issues a ruling that another authority in the country does not like. In addition, Sa'd Al-Din stated that the declaration disregards the Judicial Authority Law "which requires the agreement of the Supreme Judiciary Council for laws regarding jurists... [Moreover, this Council] is in charge of appointing the prosecutor-general."[20]

The members of the Judges Club announced that they were striking until the constitutional declaration was rescinded, and the Supreme Constitutional Court issued an announcement stating: "We will never be an obedient or malleable pawn in the hands of anyone, to be used as he sees fit."[21]

Mursi's attempts to resolve the crisis with the judiciary have been unsuccessful to date. On November 26, 2012, he met with the Supreme Judicial Council to clarify that the immunity he had granted his decisions was temporary and valid only on matters connected to sovereignty, and that there would be retrials only in cases of new evidence. The judges rejected his explanations and decided to continue their strike.[22]

Supreme Constitutional Court Deputy Chairman Tahani Al-Gabali stated that Mursi's decisions contravened the law, and that therefore he had lost his legitimacy. She added that he could no longer be considered the president of Egypt, but a common citizen, because he had undermined rights and freedoms, and destroyed the judiciary.[23]

In another announcement, the Supreme Constitutional Court stated that the media attack on it had begun after it decided to disband the People's Assembly, and that this attack was initiated by "a certain political group" (i.e. the MB) whose members had lost their seats in the People's Assembly and hence their influence there. It said that this group had launched a campaign of retaliation and personal rivalry against the judges, and that in the course of this campaign it had lost its conscience and morality, and released false information via the media against the judiciary. The announcement also stated that the most regrettable thing was that Mursi had joined in the attack after he himself had taken an oath of loyalty before the Supreme Constitutional Court at his inauguration, thus receiving his legitimacy from the court. It concluded by saying that from the first moment, the Constituent Assembly had targeted the independence of the judiciary.[24]

The Opposition: Mursi, The New Pharaoh, Is Worse Than Mubarak And His Regime Must Be Toppled

As part of the outcry against Mursi inside and outside Egypt following his new constitutional declaration, there were, unprecedentedly, many calls to topple him. On November 23, 2012, tens of thousands filled Tahrir Square to protest against the powers now held by the president, and demanding his ouster.[25] Some declared a sit-down strike until the new declaration was rescinded. A communiqué signed by "officers in the Egyptian army" was circulated among the protestors expressing solidarity with the anti-Mursi demonstrations.[26] At another Tahrir Square protest, on November 27, over 100,000 people called for Mursi to step down.

This criticism increased the internal tension in the country, since Mursi's moves had the support of many elements in the Egyptian public, who came to his defense, staging counter-demonstrations. The unrest spread to other major cities, and, in some places, violent clashes erupted between protestors and security forces and/or Mursi supporters, leaving hundreds injured. As the days passed since the release of Mursi's constitutional declaration, the protests increased and the violence grew.[27] In a December 4, 2012 demonstration in front of the presidential palace, violent clashes erupted between Mursi's supporters and opponents, during which 7 citizens were killed, and over 350 were injured.[28]

"Down With Mursi, His Party, And Their Constitution"[29]

"Down with the Regime of the [MB] General Guide"[30]

Many political activists joined in the harsh criticism of the new constitutional declaration, claiming that Mursi had transformed himself into a dictator and a new pharaoh, and that he had declared war on the revolution. Former Arab League secretary-general 'Amr Moussa expressed his apprehensions that Mursi's decisions were "dangerous" and would undermine security in Egypt; he also formed a new coalition of civil parties, called The National Salvation Front, to address the security threat in the country.[31] Hamdin Sabahi, an opposition leader who ran for president against Mursi, stated that Mursi's decisions "will ignite the political polarization in the Egyptian street. The rejection of the revolution, which is being led by Mursi and praised by the MB and its party, will not be allowed to continue... Mursi has paved his and his movement's way to creating a dictatorship and a new tyranny in the country."[32]

Egyptian-American Coptic activist Michael Mounir, who heads the Copts United organization in the U.S., said that Mursi had "made himself king and pharaoh of Egypt... His decisions look revolutionary because of increased compensation to [the families of] the revolutionaries, but they have no connection to the revolution, and they are aimed at firmly planting the MB's feet in the regime institutions."[33] Former IAEA director Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei wrote via Twitter: "Dr. Muhammad Mursi today shattered the concept of state and law, and made himself a ruler appointed by Allah. The revolution has been eliminated until further notice."[34]

ElBaradei's tweet

Intellectuals and human rights activists also attacked Mursi. Egyptian writer 'Alaa Al-Aswany wrote that Mursi "has destroyed the state of law and made himself a ruler appointed by Allah. He has placed himself in a struggle with the revolution, which will remove any pharaoh, just as it removed Mubarak."[35] Egyptian actress Sherihan wrote via Twitter that Mursi's decisions stripped the judiciary of its independence, and that "the date November 22 will be considered the beginning of a new January 25 revolution."[36] Human rights activists claimed that Mursi's decisions were an anti-democracy coup, and that the likes of his dictatorship had never before been seen in Egypt.[37]

The Egyptian press, including the state press, published numerous articles condemning Mursi's decisions. For example, 'Abd Al-Fatah 'Abd Al-Mun'im, columnist for the independent daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', wrote that it seemed the MB movement and its Freedom and Justice party had "entangled the president in a massive political crime... President Mursi never anticipated the powerful reaction of all the political forces except the Salafi movement against the constitutional declaration that transforms him from an elected president to a tyrant and a dictator, even a divinity... This constitutional declaration exposed Mursi's and his movement's plan for the '[Muslim] Brotherhoodization' of this homeland... Dr. Mursi must rescind it, as if it never happened, for his ouster is imminent... Dr. Mursi, don't be our new pharaoh..."[38]

Cover of the opposition weekly
Al-Usbu': "Go, Pharaoh"[39]

In a scathing op-ed in the Egyptian daily Al-Watan titled "Hitler, Khomeini, and Mursi," journalist and former MP 'Omar Hamzawi, who is also a human rights activist and political science researcher, compared Mursi indirectly to Hitler and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, describing how dictatorial regimes often emerge from democratic elections. He wrote: "Throughout human history, the creation and establishment of tyrannical [regimes] had definite beginnings and paths, some of which were not cut off from elections and revolutions [for] democracy... In a short period of time, Hitler rescinded all the democratic measures he had enacted, and established a terrifying tyrannical regime that led Germany and the world into humanitarian catastrophe...

"In Iran, after a popular revolution that successfully ousted the Shah's tyrannical regime, religious streams took over society, the state, and the regime, and founded a tyrannical religious republic that remains to this day...

"Over the past weeks, I have spoken and written a great deal about the revival of the pharoah-president following the election of Muhammad Mursi... I said that the restriction of press freedom [and] the interference in [the activity of] the judiciary... are creating tyranny, and that they eliminate opportunities for democratic change. Now, after the president's tyrannical [constitutional] declaration, it is no longer sufficient or appropriate merely to be wary, to warn, or to talk of the growth [of dictatorial regimes after democratic elections].

"Muhammad Mursi is now above the authorities; he has destroyed the country and has begun to construct a dictatorship that violates all rights and freedoms, abandons justice, and threatens society... Every [Egyptian] citizen who wants democracy and freedum must act now against the tyrannical presidential declaration, in all nonviolent ways, until it is revoked."[40]

Mursi wins the "Dictatorship Marathon"[41]

The Opposition: Mursi Is Delegitimizing Us

Since Mursi took office, opposition elements have complained that the MB was attempting to remove them from the political landscape, falsely accusing them of collaborating with the U.S., Israel, and other foreign elements and advancing their interests, and of fanning the flames of crisis and anarchy in the country. The MB stepped up these measures with the outbreak of violent clashes between Mursi supporters and opponents in early December 2012, including attempts to delegitimize the opposition that entailed accusations that it had incited demonstrators against Mursi and was directly responsible for the killings in the clashes.

On December 4, 2012, the prosecutor-general referred a complaint to the state security legal counsel against five opposition elements accusing them of spying for the Zionists and inciting against the regime. The accused were former presidential candidates 'Amr Moussa and Hamdin Sabahi, Al-Dustour party chairman Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Al-Wafd party chairman Al-Sayyed Al-Badawi, and Judges Club chairman Ahmad Al-Zanad. Regarding Moussa, the complaint stated that during an alleged meeting with former Israeli foreign minister Tsipi Livni, he had promised her that he would act against Mursi and incite internal crises, and that, later on, he had coordinated this activity with the others accused in the complaint.[42]

On December 5, 2012, MB party deputy chairman Dr. 'Issam Al-'Arian accused the liberal and civil forces in the country of accepting funding from elements inside and outside Egypt, and of collaborating with the West against Egypt. The Union of Islamic Forces, including, inter alia, the MB, the Salafis, and Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, issued an announcement condemning the liberals for exceeding the bounds of freedom of expression and causing damage to Egypt.[43]

On December 6, 2012, the MB's official website posted articles implying that the National Salvation Front, and in particular Elbaradei, Moussa, and Sabahi, were involved in a plot to overthrow the regime, in collaboration with the U.S. intelligence and embassy, which were striving to root out the newly established Islamic regime in Egypt.[44]

Numerous photos and posts condemning oppositionists were posted on the Facebook page of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth, accusing them of responsibility for the killing of demonstrators who were MB members in clashes, and of betraying Egypt:

"Mourning the young MB martyrs killed by the militia of ElBaradei and Hamdin [Sabahi]"[45]

Moussa, ElBaradei, and Sabahi in prison uniforms: "Accused of destroying and igniting Egypt"

Claims Regarding "Muslim-Brotherhoodization" Of Egypt

Since Mursi's election as president, there have been increasing claims that the MB is trying to take over Egypt and paint all its institutions in "Muslim-Brotherhood" colors. Indeed, there have been numerous and continuously growing protests against this in recent months. For example, on October 19, 2012, a demonstration was held in Tahrir Square protesting the MB's takeover of Egypt, with demonstrators claiming that Egypt belongs to all its citizens, not just a single group.[47]

1. Dominant MB Presence In Constituent Assembly

One manifestation of this MB takeover was the movement's attempt to draft a constitution that would serve its interests and worldview, via the Constituent Assembly, in which it is dominant.[48] Indeed, the Assembly's makeup has been the focus of an ongoing legal and public debate in Egypt, with numerous demands to dissolve it on the claim that it is not representative of society.

As mentioned, several days ago, Mursi divested the Supreme Constitutional Court of the authority to review appeals challenging the assembly's composition and calling to dissolve it, thus ensuring that the new constitution will be in line with his movement's ideology. Manal Al-Tibbi, who resigned from the Constituent Assembly in protest of its orientation, claimed that the new constitution promotes the creation of a fascist religious state and serves the MB's interests rather than the goals of the revolution.[49] A spokesman for the Al-Tagammu' party said that the Assembly was part of a plan to establish a religious state that is little different from Iran's Rule of the Jurisprudent, and which, like the Iranian regime, precludes freedom of religion and social justice.[50]

2. Appointment Of MB Members To State Institutions

There has also been much criticism of appointments made by Mursi and the Shura Council in administrative, government, and press bodies, with many of the appointees belonging to the MB. For instance, as part of the reforms he has enacted since his election, in September 2012, Mursi appointed 10 new regional governors, which many saw as another manifestation of the MB takeover, considering that roughly half of them came from within the movement.[l51i] Critics likewise pointed to the MB's dominant representation in the government and in Mursi's presidential advisory team.[52]

Additionally, in early September 2012, the Shura Council, where the MB also has a majority, replaced the members of the National Council for Human Rights, the Supreme Press Council, and the heads of the newspapers' boards of directors, invoking a fresh wave of criticism.[53] Magdi Hilmi, columnist for the daily Al-Wafd, wrote: "The new makeup of the National Council for Human Rights and of the Supreme Press Council, the broad sweep of changes made by the various ministers in their offices, [namely] the appointment of armies of new clerks from among the MB movement in all the government ministries – [all this] points to an ongoing plan to take over Egypt..."[54]

3. MB General Guide's Involvement In State Affairs

Many in Egypt claimed that it was not Mursi but MB General Guide Dr. Muhammad Badi' who was controlling and directing Egypt, from behind the scenes. These claims were strengthened by media reports that secret meetings were being held in the General Guide's office at which weighty decisions were made regarding Egypt's domestic and foreign policies. For example, in August 2012, the daily Al-Watan reported that the selection of members for the Shura Council and for the National Council for Human Rights had been determined at such a meeting.[55] It was also reported that the General Guide's office had discussed the makeup of the National Council for Women.[56]

As further proof that the MB leadership was running Egypt's affairs, it was also claimed that the Badi''s deputy, Khairat Al-Shater, was meeting with investors, sometimes even before they met with official government representatives. For example, in early November 2012, it was reported that Al-Shater and his sons had met unofficially with a group of foreign investors upon their arrival in Egypt, leading the daily Al-Watan to ask why such a meeting had been held before the investors had met with the authorized government officials.[57]

Egyptian author 'Alaa Al-Aswany wrote in the daily Al-Ahram: "President Mursi was elected by the people, but, at the same time, he belongs to the MB, a clandestine and mysterious organization whose code, principles, and financial resources are unknown. We have repeatedly demanded to anchor the MB's status in law, and to subject their funding to state oversight, but it would seem that President Mursi prefers to keep the MB a clandestine organization supporting him from behind the scenes... In fact, we do not know who is running Egypt – President Mursi or the MB [General] Guide."[58]

"No to MB takeover of the state. If you are a true Egyptian, say no to the MB."[59]

4. Changes To Egypt's School Curricula

The issue of the MB takeover was also raised in connection with Egypt's education system, following rumored plans by the MB to make changes to school curricula, including the introduction of content on the movement's founders and leaders – such as Hassan Al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb – into the high school history curriculum, with an emphasis on "loyalty to and affiliation with the movement" over "loyalty to and affiliation with the homeland." Oppositionists claimed the changes were a clear example of the MB takeover of the Egyptian education system.

The Democratic Front party filed a complaint with the Administrative Court against the minister of education and the management of the Center for Curriculum and Instructional Materials, accusing them of exploiting the school curricula to promote the country's religious groups, including the MB. The appeal said that a 10th grade curriculum dealing with national education had been revamped, with the expression "loyalty to and affiliation with the homeland" being replaced by "loyalty to and affiliation with the movement" in several instances.[60]

Several teachers who had quit the education system claimed that the interference with curricula had led some teachers affiliated with the MB to feel themselves above the law and to infringe on students' rights.[61] It should be noted that, according to a recent report, an Egyptian teacher cut the hair of two female students not wearing the hijab.[62]

While the MB has firmly denied that it has any intention to change the country's school curricula, the chairman of the Teachers' Union, himself a senior MB member, claimed that adding historical MB figures like Hassan Al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb to the curricula was a natural move because schoolbooks should discuss all figures who had a historic influence in Egypt. He stressed, however, that these changes did not indicate an MB takeover of the country.[63]

* N. Shamni is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1 Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 22, 2012.

[3] The criticism of Mursi's latest measures stems, to a large extent, from a sense of disappointment among the public, which feels he is not acting on his promises to significantly improve the lives of citizens. As mentioned, during Mursi's presidential campaign, he presented a 100-day plan for making improvements in the domains of security, transportation, food, fuel and sanitation, but has so far failed to implement them. Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Egypt, June 25, 2012. Indeed, the anarchy on Egypt's streets has not abated, the economic situation is still declining, and unemployment and crime rates are on the rise.

Numerous bodies monitored Mursi's 100-day plan, including the website, which assessed the extent to which he had effected the changes he had promised in various fields. In late September 2012, the website found that he had implemented only four of the 64 promises he had made., September 30, 2012.

The oppositionist April 6 movement also monitored Mursi's performance. In a report it published, it claimed that all he had done in the domain of security was to provide incentives and bonuses to police officers who had successfully restored order in their areas, and to deploy minimal security forces. All the rest of his assurances, the report concluded, had gone unfulfilled, such as his promises to apprehend hooligans and thugs, to deploy a broad and permanent security force in the streets and add more police stations, and to improve the police's technological ability. The report added that Mursi had failed to fulfill most of his promises in other areas as well. Al-Watan, Egypt, October 23, 2012.

The oppositionist party Al-Tagammu' also claimed that Mursi had failed to fulfill his promises. It noted that, since his election, unemployment had increased, the streets had filled with trash, road traffic had gotten worse, and prices had continued to soar. Akher Sa'a, Egypt, October 11, 2012.

[4] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 15, 2012.

[5] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), July 2, 2012.

[6] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 8, 2012.

[7] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 10, 2012.

[8] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), July 12, 2012.

[9] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 12, 2012.

[10], October 11, 2012.

[12] Al-Watan (Egypt), October 11, 2012.

[13] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 13, 2012.

[14] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 22, 2012. In accordance with the new constitutional declaration, the new prosecutor-general, Tal'at Ibrahim, reopened the investigation of Mubarak, former interior minister 'Adli, and 'Adli's six aides, who are accused of killing protestors during the revolution. Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 22, 2012.

[16] Al-Dustour (Egypt), October 7, 2012.

[17], October 10, 2012.

[18] One of the articles on the MB website stated that a large number of the judges were members of the previous regime who had decided to disband the People's Assembly out of political motives., November 27, 2012.

[19] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 28, 2012.

[20] Al-Ahram (Egypt) November 27, 2012.

[21] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 25, 2012.

[22] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 27, 2012.

[23] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 22, 2012.

[24] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 28, 2012.

[25] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 23, 2012.

[26] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), November 23, 2012.

[27] It was reported recently that three teens were killed: Jabar Salah, a 17-year-old April 6 activist, died of his wounds after being shot by unknown gunmen near the Interior Ministry building; Ahmad Naguib, an 18-year-old, was killed in clashes between protesters and the security forces; and Islam Mas'oud, a 15-year-old MB activist, was killed while anti-Mursi protesters were attempting to break into the MB headquarters in the city of Damanhour. Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 26, 2012; Al- Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 2, 2012.

[28], December 6, 2012.

[29], November 23, 2012.

[30], November 28, 2012.

[31] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 22, 2012.

[32], November 22, 2012.

[33] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 22, 2012.

[35] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 22, 2012.

[36] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 23, 2012.

[37] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 22, 2012.

[38] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 24, 2012.

[39] Al-Usbu' (Egypt), November 24, 2012.

[40] Al-Watan (Egypt), November 25, 2012.

[41] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 29, 2012.

[42] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 4, 2012.

[43] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 6, 2012.

[44], December 6, 2012.

[47] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 19, 2012.

[49], October 23, 2012.

[50, November 11, 2012.

[51] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), September 5, 2012.

[52] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), September 6, 2012.

[53] Al-Ahram (Egypt), September 5, 2012.

[54] Al-Wafd (Egypt), September 6, 2012.

[55] Al-Watan (Egypt), August 30, 2012.

[56] Al-Dustour (Egypt), September 2, 2012. The secular opposition movement Kefaya claimed that the presence of Mursi's foreign affairs advisor 'Issam Al-Haddad at a meeting held in the General Guide's office was proof that Badi' and not Mursi was running the country., September 2, 2012.

[57] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), November 7, 2012; Al-Watan (Egypt), November 8, 2012.

[58] Al-Ahram (Egypt), September 27, 2012.

[60] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 19, 2012.

[61] Al-Watan (Egypt), October 23, 2012.

[62] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), October 23, 2012.

[63] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 30, 2012.

Share this Report: