A friend here in Cairo recently told me she felt history was repeating itself all around her: a new Egyptian train tragedy; bodies of Palestinian children being dug out of the rubble of Gaza as Israel carries out yet another bombardment; protesters and police facing off again, on year later, in Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
On Thursday evening President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree that involved some repetitions of its own: he sacked the corrupt public prosecutor (again, after a first failed attempt); he ordered the re-trial of policemen and former regime figures. Most strikingly, he gave himself and the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly immunity from all judicial challenges. “Don’t worry” Morsi repeated half a dozen times during a speech on Friday — the sweeping new powers he has given himself (which include the power to take any necessary action to defend the revolution and national security) are only temporary, and will not be misused, he said. But the thousands of protesters who had already come out and those who had attacked several offices of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party were indeed worried, and fuming, at their sense that history is repeating itself: Morsi is an elected president, but he has given himself more powers than even Mubarak had.
In the first installment of a two-part podcast (we had planned one on a different topic before the crisis), Issandr and Ashraf discuss the weekend’s events. The second part will be up soon.