The Trial of Dr. Morsi

It takes no great clairvoyance to predict the shape and outcome of President Morsi’s upcoming trial. The charges will be a variant of treason, a violation of the Egyptian state, and Dr. Morsi may wholeheartedly agree, for he sees that state as a monstrous violation of God’s law. The indication is that he will be his own lawyer, and the common witticism about the man who defends himself in court having a fool for a lawyer may not apply here. Dr. Morsi is likely to offer powerful words, which can be used equally to indict and defend him. The trial is invariably compared to the trial of former President Mubarak. But where Mubarak offered sneering silence, Morsi will offer a torrent of passionate words, probably at top decibel.

Anyone who hoped that Mubarak’s trial would be a moment of “truth and reconciliation” was disappointed. Egypt at the moment can’t handle the truth and is in no mood for reconciliation. Mubarak’s crimes were vague, for in truth he was no monstrous dictator, but a wily operator of the knobs offered to him by the state he inherited. He was, in the words of Fouad Ajami, a civil servant with the rank of “President”. If the only crimes Mubarak was guilty of were petty under the existing law, Morsi’s crimes maybe major only because of the lack of law. In reality, the one entity that should be on trial is Egypt, and the leaders who remade it in the last decades. Both Mubarak and Morsi are quotidian products of the system, and placing them in the dock clarifies little. A trial can be a excellent idea if used in the literal sense, as a  forum to try out different ideas and views to enlighten and explain. But Morsi’s trial will be as muddled as Mubarak’s.

Lest we fall into despair, we should note something positive about the last three years. The possible emergence of a “third way” maybe seen in the millions of arguments conducted because of and in response to the “revolution”, usually in small forums. For decades Egypt has “covered up”, physically, morally and intellectually. We can only hope that it is finally ready for its Ham’s moment, this time in reverse, where Canaan’s curse is lifted by a recognition of the nakedness within.

— Maged Atiya


3 Comments on “The Trial of Dr. Morsi”

  1. revolutepoet says:

    A president forcefully detained. Kept in isolation. Weeks after weeks, prosecution increased his ‘detention’ time. Spurious charges filed with the haste of a dubious prosecutor. Mr morsi now would be tried. And as plain honest people do, he would defend himself. While morsi might not be a saint. He has no business in the prison while Sisi churns to bits the brotherhood.

  2. revolutepoet says:

    Morsi has no business being in the court room if Sisi and mubarak walk free. The trial comes on the backdrop of forcefully ejecting a president. Morsi has done the wise thing defending himself. He would be more astute if he can be so indifferent to the trial as it is illegal and blatantly unconstitutional.

  3. I personally believe that Morsi should be tried for treason. In spite of his many faults, Mubarak would never have been charged with such a heinous crime.
    See “What construes betrayal” http://azzasedky.typepad.com/egypt/2013/10/what-construes-betrayal.html
    This may help you understand how far Morsi is from all other previous Egyptian presidents. Oh, they weren’t saints but what a stark difference.


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