As tens of thousands of pro-President Mohamed Morsy demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday in support of the constitutional declaration, political experts said the situation could escalate to lead to more bloodshed and military involvement.
Mohamed Fayez, a political analyst at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS), described the division in Egypt as “extremely dangerous.” Referring to slogans chanted by Morsy’s supporters during their marches such as, “Neither Hamdeen nor Sabahy, the Egyptian people will stay awake,” and “ Oh shame, oh shame the feloul now appear as revolutionaries,” Fayez said that the demonstrations have gone further than just supporting the constitutional declaration.
“You can see that they are even attacking the revolutionary figures and are clearly mixing up with the original objective of their marches,” the Fayez said. He added that many of the rallies mentioned Shari’a in their slogans. “There is no relation between Shari’a and the constitutional declaration whatsoever. Using Shari’a in this context is definitely perplexing,” Fayez said.
Saturday’s marches supportive to the presidential decrees will cut all possibilities of a “genuine dialogue between the presidency and the opposition,” Fayez added. “If Amr Moussa, ElBaradie and Hamdeen Sabahy are being insulted, one can hardly imagine they will engage in a dialogue with Morsy to solve the situation,” he said.
Speculating about possible escalation of the situation in Tahrir Square, Fayez said casualties could be caused if Islamists decided to “enthusiastically use the constitutional declaration to abort the revolution.” “They would then demonstrate in the same place of the opposition,” Fayez said.
Mohamed Nagy disagrees. He said Islamists have always been careful not to cause more bloodshed. “This was evident last Tuesday when they refrained from demonstrating in either Abdeen or Cairo University,” he said.
Though the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party protected their headquarters, and thus did not participate, Nagy believes that more FJP offices could have been damaged, if Islamists organised their marches on the same day.
Morsy’s decrees have trapped Egypt in a “situation where not many options are available,” said Nagy. “The president will back off from his constitutional declaration or not. There are no middle solutions here.
“Morsy’s legitimacy is indeed in a risky position.”
Saied Okasha describes the two protesting groups. One calls for a nation of laws, while the other is ready to destroy the law in order to rule through different authorities; whether Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists. Okasha sees the main risk as the economic crisis, as each of the Islamist groups provide Shari’a as the solution.
“They mixed two things together,” Okasha said, “the Shari’a which no one can refuse, and promises that the Shari’a could help in overcoming the economic crisis.
“I think the Islamist parties will lose a lot due to their stubbornness and a persistent desire of solitary rule.
“The Islamist parties have acknowledged that the secular groups are not outnumbered,” said Okasha.
Unlike Fayez, Okasha does not predict any clashes between the two parties. “They cancelled their last march, and when they decided to do the second one, they held it away from Tahrir.”
He anticipates the Supreme Court will announce its ruling regarding the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly Sunday. “We have been informed about Islamists crowding in front of the Supreme Court in an attempt to prevent the court’s meeting,” Okasha said. “But whether the court conducts the ruling at the headquarters or in another place, the Supreme Court will still announce its verdict.”
Hassan El-Brince, senior FJP figure, said protests opposing and supportive to Morsy prove that Egypt is developing a true democratic process.
“The scene today means that Egyptians are finally practicing democracy after long years. We have seen during the revolution that the only way to express opinions is through protests,” said El-Brince. He expected the coming phase to be stable after the public referendum on the constitution. “The time is soon to come to show the real tendency of Egyptians,” he said.