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Some of the court cases were due for rulings by the Supreme Court, so a large group of Salafis, followers of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a man who had submitted his name as candidate for the Presidency, but who was disqualified as he lied about his mother having dual nationalities, Egyptian and American, went and surrounded the headquarters of the Supreme Court and threatened the Judges. The court could not convene to dissolve the Shura Council which had the same constitutional fault as the already dissolved Parliament. Morsi then gave the Shura Council legislative authority and rushed the formation of a committee to set up a new constitution tailored to their needs.
Another group of Abu Ismail’s followers surrounded Media City and threatened all those courageous anchor men and women who were bravely covering the news every night and frankly criticizing all that was going on. Then things were taken a step further and some of the more high profilers were dragged in for questioning on flimsy pretexts. A vey high profile satirist, Bassem Youssef was one of those brought in for questioning. But in each and every case, Human Rights Lawyers volunteered their services to defend them, and the people gathered to stand outside the offices in protest while they were being questioned.
During that one year as President, Morsi travelled all over the world in style, but unfortunately was not personally up to the position he occupied. His personal behavior left a great deal to be desired. He was a constant source of embarrassment to all the people who knew better. Not only was his lack of polish and his personal behavior totally unacceptable socially and defied any kind of diplomatic protocol, his undignified behavior, the fact that he went begging for money all over the world, caused Egyptians deep, deep shame. Our pride was trampled in the mud. If ever there was a revolution motivated by embarrassment, that was it.
Furthermore some very alarming signs were detected, and when put together painted a really dangerous picture. The influence of Qatar was becoming intolerable. They were practically buying Egypt up bit by bit. Leaked correspondence showed a plan to ‘loan’ around two hundred pieces of antiquities to Qatar for it to display at an international Fair under its name! Egyptian antiquities! A great hue and cry was raised and the plan was squashed, but other, more dangerous plans were ongoing.
One of the first things Morsi did was pardon and release all the violent fanatics convicted of violence and murder. One at least was his brother in law, but they also included the assassins of the late President Sadat. Worse still, these did not keep a low profile, they became very famous on television and in the political scene. Also the sleeper on the Elections Committee came out of the closet and was rewarded a portfolio in the Government.
On March 3 the government decided to transfer those imprisoned pending trial, accused of the massacre of the Ultras the previous year. Their families rose up protesting the move. Riots ensued where 5 were killed. The next day, March 4 during the funeral for those 5 killed, slogans against the Brotherhood were chanted and people started joining the funeral march. The crowd became so large as to warrant police intervention, but when tear gas was thrown to disperse the crowd, this angered them even more, as this was also a funeral. Clashes ensued, then birdshots got fired, then finally live ammunition was used on the crowd, killing 40. Port Said lit up in flames. A full revolt was on. Morsi and the government panicked and ordered the army to take over securing the three cities on the Suez Canal, Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, where a curfew was imposed from sundown to sunup.
The first night of the curfew, all three cities spontaneously surged out on the streets in defiance. Then a few days later, all life was geared to start with the curfew and end at dawn. Football matches were played under the halogen lights, musical shows were performed on the streets, and all sorts of sports and cultural, entertainment activities performed in defiance of the curfew. The army kept the peace, but was very tolerant of curfew breakers, and they even participated in friendly football matches with the people. Morsi’s authority was totally gone in that part of Egypt, which declared itself independent of Egypt.
To be continued … One Year Under Morsi’s Rule -Part 4