Brotherhood's Shura Council chairman criticises Morsi declaration
Ahmed Fahmi, chairman of the Islamist-dominated Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of Egypt's parliament), seized on Thursday's council session to criticise the constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi on 22 November.
"We had hopes that President Morsi would put the constitutional declaration before a national referendum," Fahmi said. He also argued that the declaration "has severely divided the nation into Islamists and civilians." Fahmi urged Morsi to conduct a national dialogue with all forces to put an end to the crisis triggered by the declaration.
Fahmi’s comments came as a surprise to many, given that not only is the chairman of the Shura Council a leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – the political arm of Muslim Brotherhood from which Morsi hails – but he is also a relative of Morsi himself.
In its brief debate over Morsi’s declaration, the council itself was divided into supporters and opponents. Islamists, led by FJP and the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, hailed Morsi’s declaration.
Tarek El-Sehari, a Salafist and the deputy Shura Council chairman, said the declaration "is a necessity, with a view to the fact that the Mubarak-appointed judges and prosecutors failed to refer the diehards of the former regime to trial or put a stop to their attempts to dissolve the Shura Council and the constitution-drafting assembly, and have indulged in thuggery and hooliganism under the banner of commemorating the revolution."
"These criminals can never be branded as 'revolutionary forces' and should rather be sent to trial as required by the constitutional declaration," said El-Sehary. "Everyone has the right to criticise the president, but nobody – especially those who failed to secure seats in the last parliamentary elections – has the right to attack public property or incite violence."
El-Sehary sharply directed attacks against those who "resorted to insults" when criticising Morsi’s declaration. He argued that the building of a new Egypt should not come at the expense of putting obstacles in the way of a democratically-elected president.