8 Oct 2012

Mohamed Morsi: 100 days of success or failure for Egypt?

As one of the earliest countries to experience revolution in the Arab Spring, and one of the first to move towards stability, Egypt’s first leader post-Mubarak has been in the international spotlight.



Mohamed Morsi took power amidst tense negotiations between the Muslim Brotherhood and the controlling military, in a country in need of a domestic overhaul and against and international backdrop of violence and mistrust in the Middle East.

Analysis of Google trends (above) shows the points at which Mr Morsi has been most in the international spotlight: the most significant events in his fledgling presidency – his shake-up of the military, his foreign policy stance in Iran and his response to the American-made “Innocence of Muslims” film which depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a child molester and homosexual.

Controlling the military

When Morsi became president the military had curtailed the powers of his office. His response was to cancel the military-implemented addendum, which had transferred authority away from the presidential seat, and then forcibly removed two senior military figures, including military chief Hussein Tantawi.

Heba Morayef, of Human Rights Watch, told Channel 4 News that the event was “very significant and a step in the right direction” in ending decades of military rule that had resulted in human rights abuses.

However, the commentators are likely to be ill at ease with suggestions that the military would have just rolled over for Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

Ms Morayef points out that it is yet to been seen what powers the military will be left in Egypt’s new constitution, being drafted behind closed doors.

“The question of oversight of the military budget is key,” she said. The constitution could see the control of the military budget remaining with the Defence Council, which is made up of a majority of military generals. If so, Ms Morayef warns, then it becomes harder for Egypt to move away from military rule.

She also added that the question of the military justice system needs to be overhauled as officers are currently allowed to act with effective impunity, as they can only be tried by their superiors within the military.

Mohamed Morsi (Reuters)

Outspoken foreign policy

r Morsi has not been shy in airing his views about the international scene, and his recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly was a global tour of crisis, complete with his views on resolutions. He said the most important issue the international community had to face was the ensuring ther rights of the Palestinian people were met. In the same speech he called the actions of Israelis building in the West Bank “shameful”.

He went onto discuss Syria and Somalia amongst other countries. His speech was rational and spirited, and a direct contrast to the ramblings of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The official policy is that there will not be any equality between women and men – Heba Morayef, Human Rights Watch

A month before Mr Morsi had travelled to Iran for the first time in 33 years for the Non-Aligned Movement summit. There he upset Syrian officials so much, by calling them “an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy”, that they walked out.

His role on the international scene has resulted in the most amount of searches for his name on Google, both worldwide and within Egypt – with his speech to the United Nations the pinnacle of Morsi Google searches.

Violence against embassies

But Mr Morsi has also been in the international spotlight whilst at home, when an American-made film which portrayed the Prophet Mohammad as a womaniser and a child molester led to embassies being attacked across the Middle East. His response has been lauded as calm and measured, something that would have helped him preserve an important relationship with the US.

His responses to attacks on embassies, on 11 September, resulted in one of the highest amounts of Google searches for his name in his time in power, especially in the USA. His meeting with Hilary Clinton at the UN General Assembly was another high point.

Domestic failures?

However, what does not show up in Google trends data is Mr Morsi’s action on domestic issues, and some would argue that is because there has been litte action on this front

On coming to power, Mr Morsi announced his 100-day plan of 64 promises in order to improve the domestic situation for the people of Egypt.

In response the Morsi Meter was launched, a website which monitors the president’s progress. As of today it stood at nine completed pledges, with another 23 in progress.

The pledges he has completed are across the areas of bread, security, traffic, cleanliness and fuel, and include giving benefits, rewards and promotions to the police force, increasing the productivity and nutritional value of flour and the implementation of deterrent penalties for the smuggling of fuel.

Morsi has given himself a good rating for his first 100 days in power. In a speech to tens of thousands of people inside Egypt’s largest sports stadium in Cairo, he said that on the five key domestic issues he had scored as follows: 80 per cent on bread, 60 per cent on traffic, 40 per cent on garbage collection, 85 per cent on fuel and 70 per cent on security. He said scientific methods had been used to measure the scores.


However, not everyone shares this view. Ahmed Abu Doma, a Coptic Christian, said: “The 100 days in which Mursi made his promises acted as proof of his failure and the failure of the lie known as the ‘Renaissance project’.

“It proved to all Egyptians that there is no such thing as the Renaissance project and neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor President Mohamed Mursi have a vision, project or programme to follow.”

Hassan Abu Taleb, a political consultant at the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, said: “The expectations that he would deal with all injustices very quickly created an atmosphere of hopes that are very high and unrealistic.”

Human rights

But of a bigger concern, perhaps, is the human rights situation in Egypt. According to Ms Morayef, there are particular concerns over freedom of expression and the treatment of women and children under the new government.

She points to the case of Alber Saber, an Egyptian atheist, who was arrested in the wake of the violence that erupted over the “Innocence of Muslims” film. Police found videos on Mr Sabers laptop that questioned the existence of god – and arrested him for insulting religion.

Ms Morayef said that this kind of arrest will be something that happens at local, and is not pushed for by Mr Morsi’s government. However, the presence of the Islamist Muslim Bortherhood in charge of the country will mean Salafi and Mulsim lawyers will feel confident that such arrests will not be contested.