The Arab Spring is showing its true winter colors. Egypt, a former U.S. ally, is rebranding its nascent democracy with oppressive Islamist cant. No one should be surprised.
Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood partisan Mohamed Morsi has cast aside the cloak of moderation and revealed himself as a radical theocrat in the same vein as Iran's infamous Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Invigorated by his recent success in brokering a cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, Mr. Morsi issued decrees on Nov. 22 granting himself near-absolute authority. The nation's top judges have condemned the move, saying the president has placed his rule above judicial review, rendering his power tantamount to dictatorship.
Unless Egyptians can generate the commitment to individual liberty that was sought in the 2011 uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, they could be headed toward the same state of lamentable oppression that their Iranian neighbors have endured for more than 30 years and that has long bedeviled the Islamic world.
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in recent days have demonstrated determination to stay on the path of democracy, returning to Cairo's central Tahrir Square to denounce Mr. Morsi's rule and the Muslim Brotherhood's incremental embrace of Islamic law. On Tuesday, protesters called for the president to rescind his decrees while others demanded his resignation. "We have smelled freedom, and it has made us forget fear," said Ahmed Maher, an organizer of the April 6 Youth Movement, to The Washington Times. "We want to taste it now."
Meanwhile, President Obama can't tear himself away from the campaign trail to weigh in on the latest Mideast turmoil, though it's been three weeks since he won a second term. His schedule has been crammed this week with confabs with business leaders in St. Louis and toy makers in Pennsylvania, all designed to sell his counterproductive schemes for solving the debt crisis by raising taxes on the rich. "The White House is concerned about [Egypt] and we have raised those concerns," was all that spokesman Jay Carney would volunteer on Tuesday regarding the turmoil in Cairo.
Mr. Obama may be hesitant to condemn Mr. Morsi's power grab so soon after the Egyptian president was instrumental in halting cross-border rocket attacks along the Gaza Strip, but his diffidence signals acquiescence. Just as his reticence disheartened millions backing the failed Green Revolution against Iran's mullahcracy in 2009, the president's silence echoes through the ranks of freedom followers on the Nile.
America is the font of liberty in today's world, and when freedom is threatened, the president's mission is to call out the perpetrator. Acting decisively is known to be difficult for the chief executive, but distinguishing democracy from despotism should not be. Mr. Obama has a fresh opportunity to speak out for freedom. He should use it to denounce Mr. Morsi's styling himself as Egypt's latest pharaoh.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
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