News / Middle East

    Egypt's Morsi Lashes Out at Opponents Ahead of Protests

    Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi addresses conference June 26, 2013 in Cairo (Egyptian Presidency photo)
    Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi addresses conference June 26, 2013 in Cairo (Egyptian Presidency photo)
    Elizabeth Arrott
    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Wednesday addressed his nation ahead of major demonstrations both for and against his rule. Analysts say the speech is unlikely to bridge the divides roiling the country.
     
    It was not the conciliatory gesture that some in a nation on edge had hoped for.

    President Morsi Wednesday night mocked his rivals, accused members of the judiciary of corruption and blamed the nation's problems largely on the former government and its supporters, whom he says are trying to undo the revolution that took them from power.  

    He did acknowledge that in his first year in power, he had made mistakes that must be corrected.  

    Speaking before an invited audience in Cairo, Morsi said Egypt needs quick and deep reforms in order to get back on the right track.

    Morsi also acknowledged what he called a "patriotic opposition."  But he criticized by name opponents from the previous government, current opposition, the media and the business world.  

    Morsi said the opposition ignored the basic principles of democracy and called the government illegitimate instead of taking part in the process.  He urged them instead to take part in upcoming parliamentary elections.

    The president accused those he called the enemies of Egypt of sparing no effort to sabotage "the democratic experience."  And he blamed the protests that have occurred since he took power for hurting the economy and forcing the government to look for outside help.

    Egypt is bracing for what many believe will be the biggest round of protests since Morsi took office last June, as well as counterdemonstrations by his Islamist supporters.  
    Deadly street fighting broke out just hours ahead of the speech in Mansoura, in the Nile Delta, and crowds were gathering in other cities and towns.

    Egyptian authorities have been ramping up security across the country, with police and army personnel on high alert.   

    Citizens are stocking up on cash, food and other supplies fearing disruptions in the coming days.  The usual long lines for limited gasoline now stretch for a kilometer or more.  President Morsi apologized for the lines, blaming them on corruption and black market dealings.

    Opponents, mainly nationalist, secular and liberal groups, are calling for Morsi to step down.  They argue he has lost legitimacy and divided the country while worsening the daily lives of ordinary Egyptians.  

    The president's supporters, most from the Muslim Brotherhood and more conservative Islamist groups, say Morsi must be allowed to serve out his full term.   Extremists have threatened violence against the protesters.

    Mohamed Abdel Aziz is the spokesman for the June 30 Front, a newly formed coalition of opposition groups.

    He says peaceful protests are needed to fulfill the goals of the revolution and rejected any attempts to "terrorize" the Egyptian people by the government or its allies.  He adding a warning to everyone against any attempts to lead the country into chaos.

    The movement began with a petition drive by the Tamarod, or Rebel, campaign to show a lack of confidence in Morsi.  Members say they have the signatures of more than 15 million, exceeding the number of votes cast for Morsi last year.

    Mai Wahba, who heads Tamarod's media office, cites the president's failure to fulfill any of the promises he made for his first 100 days in office.  She also describes his adoption of extraordinary powers for several weeks last year as “a breach of contract” with the Egyptian people.  

    In his speech Wednesday night, President Morsi tried to highlight his achievements, including a rise in the minimum wage.  And after singling out so many opponents by name, he offered to set up a reconciliation committee so that all parties could talk freely.

    But as one opponent wrote on Twitter as Morsi's lengthy speech neared its end, he "seems to have decided the best way to fight fire is with gasoline."

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    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    June 27, 2013 10:27 AM
    If his only mentioned achievement/delivery on his campaign/assumption of power promise is a raise in salaries, that is bribery and he should be tried in the law court for corruption. Of course it's obvious he hates the judiciary, that will be another opportunity to close down the law courts and descend deeply into autocracy. If a president does not know when to make peace with opposition and continues to see a divided country after a 100 days in office, then he should resign. Morsi is still an extremist islamist, he does not yet understand democracy.

    He admits to making mistakes in his address and promises to correct it, but I promise you his correction of the mistakes will mean much more harm to the opposition. His correction will look like extremist Iran wiping out opposition as a correction of the "error" of allowing them exist at all. Morsi is not going to be any different, after all the first country he visited after taking office was Iran. Can someone teach him that democracy does not mean there will be no opposition, but that when the opposition rises as strongly as it is now in Egypt, the president should either meet their demand or throw in the towel, unless Morsi must send in the army to crush them once again under their bulldozers - the memory of the army and this experience is still very fresh in memory.

    And one very important thing Morsi must do if truly he is a president in Egypt is ensure his so-called supporters don't go out to clash with the protesters UNLESS he wants to see blood on the streets.

    by: Michael from: USA
    June 27, 2013 7:31 AM
    Since Morsi accused the judiciary of corruption, a desire to change is produced, and it falls to conscience, which rests atop human nature. Quick reforms in Egypt must set aside rational egoism, for what? a plain system of government? It will be interesting to see how Morsi calls upon conscience, yet demands setting aside immediate rational egoism

    by: Amid Yousef
    June 26, 2013 11:52 PM
    To think I was jumping up and down in JOY when Mubarak stepped down. for this THUG? Him and his Wahoos from Saudi Arabia deserve to be punished for putting the world (especially SYRIA) through HELL... only because of Saudi Arabia Supporting Jihad and Terrorism outside the country since 1971...
    Only way out is PEACE for everyone, I call for PEACE... America will stand by our SHAH (Morsi) but the people of AMERICA (we hate to waste a penny on this jerk)

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