Is Morsi an Escaped Criminal?
Lately the opinion is widely expressed that President Morsi is nothing but an escaped criminal. The basis for this matter began after the demonstrations of the 25th of January, 2011, when the Egyptian police – still under the regime of Mubarak – arrested hundreds of agents of the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups, who were sent to prison with arrest warrants that were issued according to the Emergency Law, which was then still in force. Morsi was among those arrested at the time, and he stayed a number of days in the Wadi Natrun Prison.
On the 29th of January, when the demonstrations intensified and policemen and prison guards were transferred to the streets, friends of the prisoners – among whom were people of Hamas and Bedouins from Sinai – took advantage of the weakened guard force, forcibly broke into the jail and freed almost three thousand prisoners and detainees, including members of Hizballah and al Qaeda. Until this day, none of these has given himself up to the authorities, and all of them are still considered escaped prisoners and detainees. So it seems that Morsi is one of them, and this is where the legal tangle in this matter begins. Because if he is an escaped criminal, how can he be president, since someone who evades the law can’t even be a candidate?
Morsi’s supporters claim that there is no document that mentions his name among the detainees. This claim is problematic because the fact is that he and many of his colleagues were in prison, so who hid the documents in their case? That is, Morsi is also involved in concealing documents, not just escaping from prison. His supporters claim that the Emergency Law, according to which Morsi and his friends were arrested, had been cancelled afterward, and therefore, it follows that the arrest was not legal and he is not to be considered an escaped convict. His detractors claim that when he escaped, the Emergency Law was still in effect and therefore he is indeed an escaped prisoner.
Meanwhile a lawsuit was filed in court demanding dismissal and punishment of Morsi on this basis whether because he is an escaped prisoner who has not given himself up or whether he helped others to escape from prison. Another problem is that some of the escapees were killed while escaping so anyone who assisted in their escape – meaning Morsi – might be accused of an accessory to causing a death.
There is an additional claim that since physical damage was caused to the prisons by the break-in, Morsi is also responsible for the great damage to the prisons. The accusations of escape, aiding in escape, causing death and damage to the prison might bring the court to sentence the democratically elected president of Egypt, to life imprisonment… so how can he function in this situation?
The economic situation has also completely deteriorated. Tourism – which used to provide a livelihood for many Egyptian citizens until the riots broke out on the 25th of January, 2011 – has almost totally disappeared, and the balloon accident of a number of months ago, where several tourists were killed, heightened the sense among world tourists that for the time being it is better to look for a more stable and safer place to take their annual vacation.
Foreign investments in industrial plants have almost totally disappeared because reasonable investors don’t invest their money in places with no apparent economic future. Egypt finds it difficult to get loans from foreign sources, whether because of the economic crisis gripping Europe and the United States, causing a lack of available cash (“the poor of your own city first”), or because Egypt cannot come up with collateral to repay a loan even if it was accepted.
Morsi visits Saudi Arabia and Qatar often to beg for alms. These funds allow him to maintain the excessively subsidized price of bread, so that the hungry masses will not break out into the streets in protest that they can’t afford to pay a realistic price for a loaf of subsidized bread. And although the price of bread has increased steadily over the years, its weight has steadily decreased.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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