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Understanding Mohamed Morsi
December 12, 2012 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Since he became Egypt’s first democratically elected leader last June, Morsi has displayed both extraordinary political acumen and a tone-deafness that has plunged his country into deeper unrest. In November, he deftly helped negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, averting a bloody ground war in the Gaza Strip. Days later, he lost much of the goodwill he had earned by issuing an edict that awarded his office near-dictatorial powers. Sometimes, Morsi can seem like the inspiring guardian of Egyptian democracy—such as when he courageously dismissed the military junta that had claimed the right to rule post–Hosni Mubarak Egypt. At other times, he can seem like a mouthpiece for the deeply conservative Muslim Brotherhood—declaring women unfit for high office and advocating for an international law to ban religious insults. (And sometimes he simply seems awkward, such as when he sat down for a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gilliard in September at the United Nations and proceeded, for several excruciating seconds, to publicly adjust his genitals.) So far, the only certainty about Morsi is that his ultimate intentions remain unknown. - The New Republic, Understanding Mohamed Morsi: His journey from farm boy to most powerful man in the Middle East.
posted by beisny (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Unknown, right.
posted by Behemoth at 8:47 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes he just seems like the bastard he is.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:12 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just saw the Syria thread and thought to myself, it'd be good to see what's happening in Egypt right now in order to assess where Syria and the rest might end up after all.

Mindreader.
posted by infini at 9:46 PM on December 12, 2012


Glad to see we've started off discussion with some nuanced opinions taking account of the historical, cultural, and policital context of modern Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi's place in both.

Glad to see you've read the article chaps, and thought about it.

In my opinion This is a much better piece about Morsi and the Brotherhood at the New Yorker.

This quote I think caputures a lot nicely: "A problem with these sorts of arguments is that they can succumb to an either-or fallacy. In fact, the Brotherhood is at once a revolutionary, antidemocratic movement and an adaptable force that can be co-opted at times into peaceful democratic politics."

Of course, that seems hard for Western journalists especially to grasp. Far easier to paint the Middle East, its governments, and Islam in black-or-white terms. I wouldn't expect any more from TNR, though - any nuance around Islam flies against their pro Israel stance of several decades.
posted by smoke at 9:47 PM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


A different piece illustrating the fragility of Egypt's democracy

IMF drops its loan after Morsi drops tax reform. Who was protesting the reform? His opposition, for one.
posted by smoke at 9:49 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This quote I think caputures a lot nicely: "A problem with these sorts of arguments is that they can succumb to an either-or fallacy. In fact, the Brotherhood is at once a revolutionary, antidemocratic movement and an adaptable force that can be co-opted at times into peaceful democratic politics."

Using democracy to achieve dictatorship or one party rule is not new, and it should be expected under certain social conditions.
posted by Brian B. at 10:10 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, TNR's site was very user hostile, at least for someone with a mobile device, what with an ad that refused to close or get the Hell out of my way.
I went therefore to TNY's article. A more nuanced view and no big, yellow, unclosable ad in my way.
TNR doesn't like Arabs or Muslims. They are going to say what they will about them.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:12 PM on December 12, 2012


I'm not sure if it's true, but I recently read that there were only about 100K hardcore MB folks (though 600K pay the dues and know the handshake) in a country of 82.5 MILLION.

That gives me hope that this mess can be sorted out, and the hardline islamists can't get away with forcing an oppressive constitution on the people. But who knows.
posted by whatgorilla at 10:59 PM on December 12, 2012


It's pretty black or white: you either support democracy or you don't.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:45 AM on December 13, 2012


There was a piece somewhere on the BBC which said American diplomatic staff had been surprised by how congenial they found Morsi's people. Many of them educated in America, middling-right economic views. Rather authoritarian, conservative views on religion and society: really pretty regular kinda guys, you know?
posted by Segundus at 1:18 AM on December 13, 2012


No adjustice, no peace.
posted by y2karl at 1:34 AM on December 13, 2012


"What his intentions are..."

Um, DUH.

When you know someone is engaging in bait&switch, you know full well you won't like the switch.
posted by ocschwar at 5:58 AM on December 13, 2012



This quote I think caputures a lot nicely: "A problem with these sorts of arguments is that they can succumb to an either-or fallacy. In fact, the Brotherhood is at once a revolutionary, antidemocratic movement and an adaptable force that can be co-opted at times into peaceful democratic politics."


Iranian leftists once thought the same thing.
posted by ocschwar at 6:01 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Of course, that seems hard for Western journalists especially to grasp.

If only we could be more nuanced, perhaps hardline Islamic fundamentalists would stop trying to oppress the people around them, or perhaps we'd see how such oppression is actually a good thing.
posted by Behemoth at 6:36 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Iranian leftists once thought the same thing.

You're right; the situation in Iran and Egypt is exactly same. Honestly, I don't know why I bother engaging in these discussions here. It's just a shooting gallery of cliches, every time.
posted by smoke at 1:24 PM on December 13, 2012


Honestly, I don't know why I bother engaging in these discussions here. It's just a shooting gallery of cliches, every time.

Why the long face? Keep your chin up. It's always darkest before dawn. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! It ain't over 'til it's over. Remember, laughter is the best medicine and we're all in this together. So follow your dreams; there's always tomorrow. Where there's a will, there's a way. Diamonds are girl's best friend.
posted by Brian B. at 4:52 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The situation in Egypt interests me but I feel woefully uninformed. This seemed like a timely piece but on reflection not one gives a lot of insight. There is some interesting biographical material on the man and a useful summary of current events, but in terms of analysis the article falls back on canned imagery like "his sympathy for an Islamist vision of society", "hard-line Salafists", etc. So, okay, Morsi is devout and authoritarian, and the decree is a power grab, and all that warrants pause, but it isn't very clear to me what the options are considering the tremendous internal and foreign pressures. Of course the other side (because, uhh, Coptian Christians and secularists have so much in common??) is miffed that they're not in power but what mandate do they have and to what extent do they stand to benefit from the current kerfuffle? And then there's the Sphinxian authority of the military... It is all very confusing and if there's additional insight to be had that would be so welcome.
posted by deo rei at 7:20 PM on December 13, 2012


As Egypt Prepares To Vote, Only One Side Seems Organized
The Brotherhood's approach to the campaign has been to place colorful pamphlets in mailboxes, urging people to vote "yes" on the draft they say is the way forward for Egypt.

The pamphlet read: "A 'yes' vote means things will settle down and the wheel of production will start turning again."
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]




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