Yesterday, Mohammed Morsi of Egypt made vast expansions to the power and scope of the presidency. Through a series of constitutional amendments, President Morsi vaulted himself above and beyond the reproach of Egypt’s legislative and judicial branches of government. Critics are calling him out for barring any of his decisions from appeal in court, as well as providing shelter to the panel drafting Egypt’s new constitution, which is dominated by Muslims.
This concerns liberals and Christians in Egypt, who foresee the new constitution as demeaning to women, indifferent to other religions and greatly limiting to personal freedoms. Beyond those changes, Morsi also ordered a retrial for former President Hosni Mubarak, mostly as a symbolic gesture towards citizens who are still frustrated with the lack of punishment for the government’s role in the death of protesters.
However, Morsi has not made any new efforts to bring punishment to the members of the Egyptian police force who directly killed protesters. This upsets the average Egyptian, but it guarantees that the new leader will have the loyalty of his primary law enforcement agency. All of this comes on the heels of Morsi brokering the peace talks between Israel and Hamas to bring an end to the recent conflict in Gaza, which earned him high praise from President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Is Morsi setting himself up to become the new dictator of Egypt? What other changes has he made thus far? What is the reaction amongst different groups in Egypt and in the international community?
Sherine Tadros, Al Jazeera correspondent in Egypt
Father Gregory Bishay, Priest with the Coptic Orthodox Christian Center in Orange
Dr. Maher Hathout, M.D. senior advisor, Muslim Public Affairs Council