Egypt's Morsi: 'U Can't Touch This'

Pop-culture jokes aside, one analyst worries that the Egyptian president is behaving frighteningly like his ousted predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (AFP/Getty Images)

The Tehran Times reports on Monday that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will meet with his country's senior judges to discuss his recent power grab -- a decree shielding his decisions from judicial review that has set off violent protests across the country.  

In a piece this weekend, Foreign Policy magazine's Mara Revkin argued that in Egypt, such a move is just "business as usual," so much so that an appropriate presidential theme song for the country's leader would be M.C. Hammer's "U Can't Touch This." Pop-culture jokes aside, she also worries that he's behaving frighteningly like his ousted predecessor, Hosni Mubarak -- a comparison that isn't funny in the least:

If Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is ever in the market for a presidential theme song, he should consider, "U Can't Touch This." American rapper M.C. Hammer's infectiously arrogant refrain aptly sums up a stunning power play by the Egyptian president on November 22 -- a unilateral constitutional declaration that immunizes his decisions from judicial oversight and preempts legal challenges to an Islamist-dominated constitutional process. In short, the declaration makes Morsi's decisions legally untouchable. If this were Zimbabwe, we would call it dictatorship. But in Egypt, it's just business as usual in a dysfunctional democratic transition.

Morsi, who was elected Egypt's president in June on a platform pledging to purge remnants of the former regime from state institutions, is now taking cues straight from the playbook of his authoritarian predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. The president has attempted to justify the declaration as a necessary intervention to alleviate political gridlock, with the aim of achieving "revolutionary demands and rooting out remnants of the old regime." A senior advisor in the president's Freedom and Justice Party (the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing), Gehad El-Haddad, took to his Twitter feed to defend the decision in less tactful terms. "Someone needs to get real," El-Haddad tweeted dismissively to critics who suggested that the president had less radical alternatives at his disposal.

But while Morsi's paternalistic rationale might have passed muster a year ago, the Egyptian public has long since lost patience with the notion that repressive means are permissible in the pursuit of revolutionary ends. Mahmoud Street, where a demonstration was staged last week commemorating the anniversary of a deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters at the same place last year.

Read more at Foreign Policy.

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