Morsi’s First Political Stumble: Let Us Hope It Is His Last

Jul 1, 2012

Dr. Morsi committed the first unmitigated disaster of his presidency of Egypt when he blurted out during his pre-swearing-in speech at Tahrir Square that he would work to free Shaikh Abdur Rahman (The Blind Shaikh) from American jails.

Clearly, this is a statement Dr. Morsi should not have made: not that day; not from the platform on Tahrir where he found himself on that day; and most certainly, not the way he did it – in public: for the whole world to see and hear.

Even if he felt about this issue as strongly as he evidently did, and does, he should have first assumed the office of president and then gone about quietly and discretely exploring through diplomatic channels what leverage was possible with the State Department and the White House in making this happen.

Now, by making that declaration in public, the way he did, he has virtually closed all doors before him for any progress on this front, even assuming that something like this was possible.

Neither the State Department nor the White House will now be able to touch it for the foreseeable future.

Shaikh Abdur Rahman was convicted in an American court of law after a trial. People can argue all they want about whether it was or was not a fair trial. But the fact is that there was a trial that resulted in the Shaikh’s conviction.

Besides, most people in foreign countries have no idea about the powerful emotions the very mention of the expression World Trade Center conjures up in the hearts and minds of most Americans, regardless of their political affiliations.

For a foreign soon-to-be head of state like Dr. Morsi to make a public policy announcement committing himself – and naturally his government – to free a convicted man serving a life sentence in an America jail is a blunder which is not likely to go away anytime soon.

In those few thoughtless words, Dr. Morsi has dried up any public goodwill he may conceivably have won from any source in America. Not even his most ardent admirers in America can support Dr. Morsi in this declaration.

Electoral heads will roll all over America if any politician were to suggest even remotely that something like this was worth considering in the interest of better relations with the new democratic, “Islamist” Egypt.

This potato is too hot even for an outspoken Libertarian like Ron Paul to handle. Not even President Carter would want to have anything to do with it.

So, it is clear Dr. Morsi had not thought through what he was talking about that day in Tahrir Square.

At the same time, it is – and it is not – hard to fathom what made Dr. Morsi make that declaration the way he did it.

To begin with, he might have all kinds of humanitarian arguments in favor of securing the freedom of the 74-year-old Shaikh who is said to be ill.

Also, it is possible that on seeing the family of the Shaikh close to the dais in Tahrir, he reacted reflexively by his gut, rather than by his mind, and ended up saying: “I see the family of Shaikh Abdur Rahman. I will work to have the Shaikh set free and bring him home.”

Or something to that effect.

But the political implications of that statement are going to be far-reaching and they are going to be terribly, terribly swift.

And I fear none of that is going to be in favor of either Dr. Morsi or Ikhwan or even the new democratic, “Islamist” Egypt.

Clearly, this was one that got away from Dr. Morsi in a moment of haste and thoughtlessness.

What Dr. Morsi needs to learn from this unforgivable diplomatic and political debacle is never to say anything in public in future that has not been most clearly and meticulously thought through and before counting up to 10 before saying it.

Starting June 30, 2012, Dr. Morsi is no longer an agitator, even though he may wish to claim the mantle of the Chief Tahrir Revolutionary.

Nor is he a Free and Fearless Citizen of Anywhere.

He is now the president of a country called Egypt that has a population 90 million strong and that is a geopolitical lynchpin in what is touted as the Most Volatile Region of the World.

And, on top of all that, he is an acknowledged “Islamist” and a hard core Ikhwan leader to boot.

That means, anything and everything he says – and even some things that he may never have said – will be taken down and used against him in the Court of Public Opinion and Media, Diplomacy and Politics around the world.

Every trick in the book – and many not in any book anywhere – will be used to make his name mud and the name of Ikhwan and even Islam mud.

It is not for nothing the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, warned the world about the Haswaa-id Alsinatihim – the fruits of their tongues.


 © 2012 Syed Husain Pasha

Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional 
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at] 
AOL [dot] com or

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