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December 09, 2012, Sunday

Morsi: new dictator or victim?

Egypt's political crisis has been building since President Mohammed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a decree on Nov. 22 that gave him absolute powers until Dec. 15, the day of a national referendum on an Islamist-backed constitution, which prompted deadly street battles between his supporters and their opponents. The insistence of the opposition that Morsi must cancel the Dec. 15 referendum may not be in the national interest; however, compromise is both possible and urgently required, Turkish columnists agree.

Sami Kohen from the Milliyet daily says the scenes today in Cairo remind one of what we saw before the democratic revolution early last year. The protests then were to topple the decades-old dictatorship of then-President Hosni Mubarak and bring freedom, equality and democracy to the country. Yet today's protests target the democratically elected Morsi, who is seen by the protesters as a “new Pharaoh” or a “copy of Mubarak.” Another difference in today's protests is that the public is split into two groups: secularists and Islamists, whereas the people against Mubarak were clashing with security forces in last year's protests. All of this tells us that the revolution is not yet complete in post-Mubarak Egypt, he notes.

Bugün's Ahmet Taşgetiren also comments on the crisis in Egypt, saying, “Morsi has done everything according to democratic norms and that the people protesting in the streets do not indicate that the whole of the Egyptian people are against Morsi and his acts. What is happening now is that the protesters who are led and provoked by other countries and the ‘deep state' that is the remnants of Mubarak's regime have mobilized to weaken the Muslim Brotherhood and that's all.”

Hilal Kaplan of the Yeni Şafak daily also thinks Morsi is not to be blamed for expanding his presidential authorities because Morsi was aware of plans to hamper his efforts to restructure Egyptian politics and present Egyptians with a brand new constitution. Thus, the criticisms that Morsi became another dictator are just wrong, Kaplan asserts. She believes that if Morsi steps back now and gives in to the protesters, the military tutelage in the country will be further encouraged and attempt to overthrow civilian politics. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are the victims of a power struggle that aims to topple a democratically elected president and to hamper the efforts for a new constitution.

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