Less than a week after Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi’s extraordinary decree asserting exception presidential powers, he’s given an English language interview to Time magazine.
It’s incredibly fascinating.
Among other things (including a hard-to-follow metaphor about Planet of the Apes — the old one, not the new one), Morsi shows no regret about his decree:
What I can see now is, the Egyptians are free. They are raising their voices when they are opposing the President and when they are opposing what’s going on. And this is very important. It’s their right to express and to raise their voices and express their feelings and attitudes. But it’s my responsibility. I see things more than they do…
But there is some violence. Also, there is some relation shared between these violent acts and some symbols of the previous regime. I think you and I — I have more information, but you can feel that there is something like this in this matter.
I’m sure Egyptians will pass through this. We’re learning. We’re learning how to be free.
I’ve typically been inclined to give Morsi the benefit of the doubt (i.e., during the U.S. embassy protests earlier in September), but last week’s decree was difficult to understand — and today’s rushed vote by the constituent assembly to push through a new constitution is equally troubling.
Morsi has had to balance a difficult set of competing interests, and until last week, I thought he has done a better-than-expected job in managing those competing interests, but I wonder how much longer the current crisis can go on until Egyptian’s still-powerful military begins to assert itself.