President of Egypt grants himself dictatorial powers

While most Americans were spending the day enjoying football and Thanksgiving festivities, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi granted himself dictator-like powers — a development that could have far-reaching effects on the Middle East and perhaps the United States.

Via the Washington Post:

Under the terms of the Thursday decree, which went into effect immediately, few if any checks appeared to remain on Morsi’s power for the foreseeable future. The president said that all of the decisions he has made since he took office — and until a new constitution is adopted and a parliament elected — were final and not subject to appeal or review. He declared the retrial of senior officials accused in the deaths of protesters during the country’s 2011 revolution, a measure that appeared targeted at former leader Hosni Mubarak and associates. And he dismissed Egypt’s Mubarak-era prosecutor general, immediately swearing in a new one. The announcement, which was read on state television by Morsi’s spokesman, Yasser Ali, late Thursday afternoon and broadcast repeatedly, accompanied by nationalistic songs, shocked many in this struggling country. It came less than 24 hours after a diplomatic triumph in arranging the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas had given new credence to Morsi’s international bona fides. And it raised questions about whether the country might be headed toward a repetition of the Mubarak-era Egypt on the world stage: a country praised for bringing stability to a volatile region, and tolerated for abusing rights at home.

Most tweets reacted with shock and dismay:

Morsi is a longtime leader of the Muslim Brotherhood:

And he has embraced conspiracy theories about 9/11:

Morsi has not been shy about airing his odious views. In a May 2010 interview with Brookings Institution scholar Shadi Hamid, Morsi dismissed al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the attacks. “When you come and tell me that the plane hit the tower like a knife in butter, then you are insulting us,” Hamid reported Morsi as saying. “How did the plane cut through the steel like this? Something must have happened from the inside. It’s impossible.” Similarly, in 2007, Morsi reportedly declared that the United States “has never presented any evidences [sic] on the identity of those who committed that incident.” In 2008, he called for a “huge scientific conference” to analyze “what caused the attack against a massive structure like the two towers.”

It has been less than two years since Hosni Mubarak resigned from office. At the time, President Obama said, “The people of Egypt have spoken. Their voices have been heard and Egypt will never be the same.”

But how much has changed, really?

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