Who would have believed that only half a year after the first free presidential election in Egypt there would already be talk about a new Pharaoh. Mohammed Mursi was never a candidate of the people’s hearts: only the second choice of candidate in his own party, he only went on to succeed in the second ballot by the skin of his teeth. In cities such as Alexandria however, the secular democrats were leading in the first ballots.
Yet Mursi seemed to be successful in the tasks he undertook surprisingly well. The skilful push of the as clumsy as absolutist ruling military into the second row, the explicit rejection of Iran’s hegemonic aspirations at the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, and the role as successful mediator in the current war in Gaza: Few would have believed that this naïve and uncharismatic Islamist could have began his rule in such a manner.
And this is where the tragedy begins, for Mursi as well as for his country. The unusual concerted applause from Washington, Tel Aviv and Gaza last week caused the first blackout of the political high flyer. In an attempt to sail on the wave of absolute popularity into the legal limbo of dictatorship, the self-appointed captain of the people’s hearts considerably failed. Some commentators believe Mursi’s current compromise – constitution or presidential decrees – to be a subsequent confirmation of the risky game of power he is playing. But the events of the last few days show: the deciding factor of the weal and woe of the Islamist change will ultimately be shown in the conditions on the streets, rather than through the outcome of the constitutional referendum.
Egypt is not Iran, and Mursi is far from enjoying the popularity that was bestowed on Ajatollah Chomeini. Whether his endeavour of creating a playground for the Islamists with the new constitution will actually succeed is highly questionable. Who ever underestimates the anger of the people, will not be the gravedigger of democracy but of his own power. That’s the lesson of Tahrir. And despite Egypt’s love for the prophet, this simple truth is now as popular as religious lessons in the land of the Pharaohs.