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Good News: Egypt’s Parliament Briefly Convened

July 10, 2012

I could not be more pleased with the resolve of Egyptian President Mursi in calling the parliament into session this weekend, or for the members when they met.  The military is setting up a most dangerous situation if they work to undermine the will of the Arab Street.

Egypt’s parliament has briefly convened, despite the ruling military council ordering it to be dissolved.

The country’s new President, Mohammed Mursi, had ordered the assembly to meet in defiance of the ruling.

Earlier, the council said the decision to dissolve parliament must be upheld. The military closed parliament last month after a supreme court ruling.

Its latest intervention is seen by some as a challenge and warning to Mr Mursi, who was sworn in only a week ago.

It could be the first confrontation between the military and the president since Mr Mursi’s election.

Speaker Saad al-Katatni said that by holding the assembly, MPs were not contradicting the dissolution ruling “but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today”.

Egypt’s political crisis has moved from fist fight, to a rather more subtle game of chess. By reconvening parliament, President Mursi went directly against the orders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which dissolved it.

So it is an assertion of his new power as president. But it could also end up being a fairly meaningless gesture. Any laws parliament now passes are likely to be challenged, and quite probably struck down, by the courts.

So eventually it may suit everyone for parliament to be dissolved and new elections to be held, after a new constitution has been agreed.

In the meantime, both the president and the military will want to show that they are in charge. The difference this time is that it looks as if the struggle will be played out mostly in the courtrooms and the backrooms of politics, rather than on the streets. For that, at least, Egyptians may be grateful.

The MPs approved Mr Katatni’s proposal that the parliament seek legal advice from a high appeals court on how to implement the supreme court’s ruling. He then adjourned the session.

  1. Patrick permalink
    July 11, 2012 5:52 PM

    I’m glad there is some common ground here, but I think that the fears about Egypt and Islamic fundamentalists are certainly founded. Christians and women are still persecuted in Egypt; and any quick google will confirm this. The world will be watching for Mursi to make a clear statement that the “brotherhood” will not tolerate violence against women or christians or gays, for that matter.

    Again, democracy makes mistakes, real mistakes, not like electing Obama. But there is a larger point, too. Back when I was young, and liberal, I protested and slept with the demonstrators at Marquette who protested the investments the university had in South Africa. I wrote letters for Amnesty International and even got a response, interestingly, from Egypt. Like the racist policies of South Africa, the arab world ranks at the bottom of every measure of safety and equality for women, but the American left no longer seems to give a crap about issues that used to matter. I’m always astounded the way the left stands up for a culture so deeply steeped in oppression, saying always “oh, but you can’t judge the whole of the arab world by these standards.” That would have been like saying: “You can’t judge South Africans who tolerate and enjoy the power that comes from Aparteid if they are not the ones busting Steven Biko’s head.”

    Perhaps there’s hope for Egypt, I doubt it.

  2. July 11, 2012 12:50 PM

    I might also add I completely share your disdain for the destruction of historic sites, etc. The Taliban is one example of the worst among us. There is no forgiving concerning the Buddha statues.

  3. July 11, 2012 12:45 PM

    So the will of the people, as expressed in an election, should be reduced to a fear that, as of yet, has no foundation in Egypt? All that the military has done for itself and those who they control should be allowed to continue? Is that not the model that we have witnessed in the Middle East which only creates an environment for radical ideas and movements?

    I have felt that given the tourism industry in Egypt the fears that you expressed will not come to fruition. I also think what the Economist wrote several weeks back hits the issue squarely.

    “Islamism in the Arab world now covers a wide spectrum; and its sensible end has fast been evolving from a radical, violent strain into a modern, outward-looking variant…. the Brothers have gone out of their way to shed intolerance and bigotry, espousing—at least on paper—rights for women and Christians, and promising not to close down bars on tourist beaches or ban the wearing of bikinis.”

  4. Patrick permalink
    July 11, 2012 12:30 PM

    I hope the military wins in the end. I worry that “president” Mursi will do for the women of Egypt what islamic law has done for the other half of the “arab street” and that it will do for the pyramids and other world heritae sites what it has done for Timbuktu. Some mistakes of democracy are too terrible to embrace.

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