The country prepared itself. The Ministry of Interior had ordered 20.000 security forces to protect its citizens from attacks, assaults and all what could be anticipated, taking into account what the defiant pro-Morsi apologists announced.
The nerves were on edge on this first day of the trial of Mohamed Morsi, a man who won the presidency over Egypt through a dismal sentiment, namely a choice between plague & cholera resulting from disgust, disdain and disappointment over the first free elections held in Egypt, which ended in a fateful run-off poll in June 2012 with a participation of eligible voters of 31% as some said, the official turnout was reported to have been 38% ..
The country had been in a dramatic state of ‘national disillusionment’ before this run-off election. The spark of ‘what can all be accomplished’ became less shiny and it occurred to most people, that concepts, drive and organization were in dire demand to transform a country that had accumulated outrageously disproportional, and to some grave extent, incomprehensible ways to administer grievance and the demands of its citizens.
I was shocked when I learned that friends with rather ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive ‘views (not in the strictly political sense) on governance with a somewhat innocent expression on their faces ensured me that they would vote for Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. This way they – main reason – can vote out the much more detested military candidate Ahmed Shafik, whom they regarded as a mere tool from the ‘military junta’ as the SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) had been derided by the left-wing revolutionaries and Shafik was a representative of ‘the old regime’. In addition they trusted Morsi’s eloquent and elaborated promises to include Copts, women, youth, everyone (!) in the new government, should he be elected. ‘The good thing about the Muslim brothers is’ and I heard that a lot back then ‘that they are organized.’
And this is what Egypt needed most. Orderly governance after months of turmoil and constant decline in expectations of what the upheaval from January 25th, that soon turned out to be the day that officially started a revolution, can achieve, based on the facts that make Egypt what it became: a very complex country due to a very heterogeneous population with numerous of social antagonisms.-
I still have a problem with the common narrative “Mohammed Morsi, the first freely elected president of Egypt” – what had been free about the run-off election considering the predicament Egypt was already suffering? In those days there wasn’t ‘anybody’ who looked forward to the run-off elections with enthusiasm. Too much had gone down the drain. Shattered dreams already.. People had been pressured to vote facing a possible penalty of 500.-LE, should they not go to the polling-stations..
When Morsi, the spare-tire, as he had spitefully been labeled by the ones, who couldn’t think of the Muslim Brothers ever to be entrusted with a political leading role, agitated, since the parties favorite candidate had to be replaced, won by a hair thin margin, most of the people of Egypt were ready and willing to submit to the ‘wisdom’ of an eighty year old organization, accepting the outcome as the price they had to pay so that Egypt could at last begin the long awaited democratic era.
‘Public’ consent at the times was: the Muslim Brothers had been forced into underground thus they enjoyed a widespread ‘we know what it means to suffer suppression’ sentiment and had publicly been perceived as pious charity-workers. Their image by and large shaped over the years, when, to mention just one noticeable example, the Mubarak administration failed to perform its duty in the case of the tragic ferry-boat disaster, where hundreds of people drowned since the ferry boat was overloaded while the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, had been reported to have watched a football-match, the African cup was at stake (and he didn’t want to be disturbed I speculate). Who came for first rescue and immediate help for the poor people who had been trapped into a trip on a boat, owned by an unscrupulous business man, who, is that needed to be mentioned, never had been held liable for the human catastrophe his company caused? The Muslim Brothers! They brought blankets and soup and helped to the best of their abilities. – And this was by no means a single occurrence.
But their organizational skills had been overestimated. Their commitment to the national well-being tragically misunderstood.
On social media one could follow the ‘Morsi-meter’ which had been set for the first 100 days of his presidency to monitor his performance. What had been more interesting to follow up however were the choirs raising their voices over social media.- A running gag was Morsi on Twitter. When the nation expected a speech, Morsi tweeted, preferably around 1.30 am in the morning..
Today was the day.
Anxieties were high. Protests had been announced. Violence was to be expected. Morsi supporters geared up for mass-rallies to bring back the man, who should show the world what ‘democracy’ was and who has been sitting stubbornly in his ‘undisclosed location’ sending messages about ‘soon victory’ to his loyal followers whose number however shrank day by day. The Morsi supporters expected the man to lead Egypt toward prosperity and fulfill their dream of becoming winners of society, their dream for change of fate. They expected that from a man who drove a country with a history of 5000 years to the verge of disintegration within just one year. To be fair as it became clear in the course of the events: it had been rather the reign of the party leaders who had selected him as their front man. He never really appeared to have been ‘his own man’.
In the greater Cairo area, support marches have begun already following Friday prayers in several districts including Gesr El-Suez, Ain Shams, Nasr City, Shobra, Haram, Mattariya, Mohandiseen, Helwan, and El-Warraq. Yesterday, in Cairo, a march also reached the vicinity of Al-Ittihadeya presidential palace in Heliopolis district. However, the army had barricaded the one-time-headquarters of deposed president Morsi with tanks and barbed wire to prevent protesters from reaching it. A similar march reached Al-Qobba Palace, another presidential house located in Hadayek El-Qobba. Another pro-Morsi march converged at the Military Intelligence headquarters on Salah Salem road in Cairo, as state news agency MENA reported. Schools had been ‘called off’, the Corniche in Maadi, where the High Court is located was announced to be blocked with security. Many private companies kept their offices close today, I myself followed, once I read that the American University of Cairo officially announced ‘security concerns’.
This afternoon I saw Mohamed Morsi on BBC-world. I had read in the news already about how he insisted on his suit and that he refused the court-trial altogether rejecting it as illegal. Now I saw him how he was walking wearing his suit, in the court-cage next to the other defendants, all dressed in the court-uniform, which Morsi refused in order to underline his what? Pride? If he had pride he would have responded to the people at least, when on June 30th the whole country marched against him, stirring the question if that had been the biggest march in history of mankind. Independence? Hardly. When Lady Ashton visited him in his ‘undisclosed location’ he wasn’t able to answer her questions since he had to confer with his supreme guide.. Yet his moves seemed so attuned with his attitude and self-understanding. Slightly irritated, yet unangry, if not friendly. – Like on this picture where Obama is carrying Morsi on his arm, heartbreaking if you look at it – Obama with a veil and Morsi dressed up as a baby-girl, smiling curiously and friendly into the world without the concept of harm, being untouched yet from the forces of evil..
When Morsi approached the iron mesh of the court-cage and probably said that sentence which had been quoted a lot “I am the president of Egypt” I felt like ‘with this sentence he didn’t mean any of what it said’. It was to me as if he was appealing for humanity, as if he were shy to ask for forgiveness. I wasn’t listening to what he said. I just looked at how he moved. It moved me.
I was touched. Not that I pity Morsi. His blame exceeds his capacity. He contributed a lot to what we here in Egypt have to overcome..
Humanity unfolded its more undesirable and dis-integrative facets as the months went by during his despotic reign with gaps deepening. Compassion has become a sentiment reserved mainly for the people of the own camp. Feeling sorry for a political enemy’s mishaps? No energy left!! Rather a good reason to enjoy the own ideological supremacy. Friendships broke off on daily basis, turning best friends into worst enemies once they engaged into political arguments. – People never hated each other openly. The ideological poison the Brotherhood spread throughout the nation with their excellent PR-machines makes every accusation the prosecution will bring forward justified.
During the Morsi tenure, protests set up where people claimed the fulfillment of the promises for which they sacrificed their votes. He didn’t pay his dues. Soon the protests grew into massive demonstrations and developed into violent fights. Instead of respecting the protesters as voters, Morsi and his ministers had dishonored and shamed those citizens calling them undemocratic, remnants of the Mubarak regime, thugs.- Those were ‘ordinary’ citizens. Doctors, engineers, teachers, unemployed, students..
Remembering what Morsi all had ignored and accepted and enforced: people lost their lives during his year through tortures in police detention, through police brutality during demonstrations and mysterious murders. Journalists were prosecuted; it became life-threatening when openly questioning the sole legitimacy of Islam. Even on face-book one was hesitant to post certain religious jokes when it could remotely being seen as insult to Islam, remember ‘Micky&Mini’? Bearded and veiled?? Men grew beards and marked their foreheads with ‘prayer-tattoos’ to demonstrate piety.. – Egypt lost its lighthearted flair. It was true what a newspaper titled in late autumn that year: “The laughter has died out on Egypt”
Back to the opening of the trial: I have read on twitter that 2 journalists, when they saw Morsi, yelled ‘execute him’ .. .- !? After all what Egypt went through until today I would have expected a more differentiated view on how to put justice into practice. Yet.. who can blame them? They might have lost a friend or a relative..
Is what Egypt is now painfully trying to achieve while omitting the decades it took while it was still originating: the adaption of a system from a region of the world, which took more than 150 painful years to reach to the consensus which resulted into what we relate to as a ‘civilized democracy’, compatible with the base instincts of human nature, where some are still genuinely guided by rather simple solutions, if you see the above sentiments as exemplification?-
Undoubtedly can the state shape the concept of proportion when defending its vital interest. Egypt as a nation that is on ‘re-set’ for the course of democracy since July 3rd, continuing where it started on January 25th, as I understand the situation. Morsi after all had the choice to say “No”. He could have thrown himself in front of the supreme guide and beg to leave his office, for the love of Egypt..
For the base human, whose best aspect is their emotional immediacy, a Western legal system would be met with irritation. Are not eventually ‘the tigers of wrath wiser than the horses of instruction’, as William Blake phrased it?
It is not that I think Mohamed Morsi shouldn’t be tried. Even when he was not his own man, he was in charge. It had been in his might to say “No”, when on December 5th protesters had been killed, while all they wanted was to remind him of his promises..
I am absolutely certain that the Egyptian state will find an appropriate way to handle this case. It’s good that the case is postponed. Yet I’m curious how the judiciary will placate the bereaved of the martyrs and the advocates of modern civil society, which has with it a clearly defined rule of law based on an evolutionary grown conception of man.
It has been the helplessness of the human being Mohamed Morsi that touched me. This friendly man, how he respectfully came to the limit of the fence and saying his sentences while his expression seemed almost gentle.. he is either mentally mistaken or a great performer.- In both cases unfit for presidency.
The editors of the late edition of the German governmental news were quick to decide which pictures to show. They didn’t bother to show that picture of the aimlessly wandering man who has missed all the chances he had, to be on the other side of the cage. It seems that the Western governments are settling their minds for ‘thumps down’ and thus show that amount of mercilessness that is important to bear the burden of human error.