Politics

White House silent as Egypt’s president grabs power, moves toward Shariah Islamic law

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

White House officials remained silent during the extended Thanksgiving weekend, as Egypt’s pro-democracy groups called on President Barack Obama to condemn Thursday’s power grab by their country’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.

Morsi decreed Nov. 22 that his pronouncements and edicts were beyond the reach of judicial review. The announcement was met by resistance from the nation’s top judges, who said they would fight Morsi’s unusual self-elevation to near-dictator status.

“I am waiting to see, I hope soon, a very strong statement of condemnation by the U.S., by Europe and by everybody who really cares about human dignity,” declared Mohamed ElBaradei, who is one of Egypt’s more visible non-Islamist politicians.

So far, the White House has not weighed in, although Morsi’s power grab is a repudiation of the “Arab Spring” democracy movement that Obama has supported for two years.

It is also a rejection of Obama’s efforts to use Egypt to mute the religious conflict between the Arab world and Israel, and a jarring followup to the Nov. 21 cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which Morsi and Obama negotiated.

Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, is expected to face media questions Nov. 26 about the administration’s response.

So far, the White House’s only comment has been a nondescript paragraph, released Nov. 23 by the Department of State.

“The decisions and declarations announced on November 22 raise concerns… We call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue,” said the statement, which did not mention Morsi.

There has been no White House response to ElBaradei’s Nov. 24 comments.

Obama backed the 2011 removal of Egypt’s strongman, Hosni Mubarak, and then pressured Egypt’s army to stay on the sidelines while Islamist parties competed for — and won — roughly 75 percent of the seats in the nation’s parliament.

But Morsi’s takeover now threatens to shift Egypt’s populist, Islam-friendly and democratic “Arab Spring” movement towards a hard-line Islamist theocracy, similar to Iran’s, which is hostile to democracy.

Islamist theocracies create an apartheid-like system where Western-style rights are supplanted by Islamic sharia law, and where Muslim men rule over Muslim women, Christians and Jews.

“Morsi appears to be fulfilling the [Islamists’] and his own long shared desire to re-create a Sharia supremacist Egyptian state,” Islam expert Andrew Bostom told The Daily Caller. Bostom is author of a new book, “Sharia versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism.”

Morsi asserted his dictatorial powers Nov. 22, amid applause from his fellow Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and those in the even more radical Salafists’ Nour party.

In addition to making Morsi immune to judges’ oversight, the surprise declaration said that Egypt’s courts also have no authority over a constitution-writing panel that is now dominated by Islamists.

The Islamists on the 100-member panel are pushing to impose Shariah Islamic law on the country’s roughly 72 million inhabitants, prompting a walkout this month by roughly 22 free-market and left-wing panel members.

Morsi also announced a plan to retry recently released officials from the Mubarak regime, and described his political opponents in the same language — “thugs” — as protesters used to describe Mubarak’s supporters.