Like everybody else, I was taken over by the Israeli attack on Gaza last week. I followed the news of what going on there, participated in a demonstration on Wednesday night and started to ask questions about what this war will mean for the Middle East. For a moment, I thought that I would be writing my column this week about Gaza. However, Mohamed Morsy, his government and his fellow Muslim Brotherhood hotshots did not give me the opportunity.
As I was organising my thoughts on the situation in Gaza, I was provoked by the fact that Morsy will not attend the Coptic Pope’s coronation. One day later, I woke up to the devastating accident in Assiut, which was heavier on my heart than all the events in Gaza. As I was pulling myself together, I was given a blow to the head by the tweets of Essam El-Erian, deputy head of the Freedom and Justice party and the leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. At this point, all thoughts on Gaza were out of the picture and the mess in Egypt was a lot more important to me.
Out of the blue, and for no apparent reasons, President Morsy decided not to attend the coronation of the Coptic Pope. This neglect is not the first instance; Morsy did not attend the election on 4 November either.
The president first said that he would attend if invited and when he received the invitation the president’s spokesman said the president would attend if time allowed. Now that he is not attending, I assume that his time did not allow. This makes me ask President Morsy an important question: do you see the situation of Copts in Egypt as a priority? If the answer is no, then please make it clear, and if the answer is yes, then let me tell you that you haven’t done anything to prove it.
Morsy’s recurring neglect of the church’s invitations is a clear sign that the man does not want to visit a church. At a time where attacks on Copts are increasing day after day, at a time where Islamic sentiments are being injected into every aspect of society and at a time where religious radicalisation is overshadowing coexistence and tolerance; at this time, Morsy cannot even offer some symbolic reassurance.
Mr President, your presence at the coronation wouldn’t have assured the Copts of Egypt that the state guarantees them equal rights and bans discrimination against them, but it would have at least sent a message saying that you serve all Egyptians equally. But then again, maybe that is not on your agenda.
But Morsy’s attendance is not the only issue here; the real issue is with the presidential decree he issued concerning the Coptic pope. President Morsy used the word “appoint” in this decree. Article 1 of that decree states that “Bishop Tawadros is to be appointed as Pope”. Now, he who has the right to appoint to duty also has the right to relieve from duty and Morsy does not have the right to relieve the pope from his duties.
The president should acknowledge the new pope, ratifies the selection process, the whole idea behind the presidential decree is to say that the state recognises the fact that there is a new pope in the Coptic Church, but it does not appoint the man. Mr. President, I know you pray a lot, but that does not give you spiritual authority, neither in Islam nor in Christianity.
Then another train accident took place, this time killing more than 50 children. I cannot describe how painful it feels and I cannot imagine the heartache that the families of those children must be going through. I can only see how low it was of El-Erian to use this catastrophe as a lobbying opportunity to resurrect the parliament. El-Erian tweeted that the accident in Assiut calls for parliament to be back in session so that it can hold the government accountable.
As I saw that statement I wanted to ask the man one question: what did your parliament do? When 72 innocent football fans died in a game in Port Said what did your parliament do? When protesters were being shot with rubber bullets and pellets while your parliament was in session, what did it do? When thousands of civilians were put on trial before military tribunals, what did your parliament do? And inside that parliament, when did the Muslim Brotherhood listen to any other voice but its own?
When Morsy became president, we were all waiting for the Muslim Brotherhood’s stunning administrative capacity. We all waited for that well organised group that swept through the different elections winning them one after the other. Like any other Egyptian, I believe this country deserves an efficient administration, and if the Brotherhood through Morsy can deliver one then so be it. But month after month, the Brotherhood’s administration has been one of failure, inefficiency and misfortune.
The Brotherhood’s political leadership potential so far turned out to be a myth. In a country that’s in dire need of reform in its infrastructure, in dire need of equality and citizenship rights, in dire need of leadership that recognises the dignity and value of the Egyptian citizen; in that country, politicians are busy with banning porn sites and allowing girls to marry at the age of nine. Mr President, please set your priorities straight before you take this country further down.