As protests continued to rage in Tahrir Square and pretty much every political party in the country united in opposition to his newfound power, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is surprised. It was three days ago that Morsi issued a decree that grants him immunity from the country's courts, an aggressive move that practically gives the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood unchecked authority and earned him the nickname "Pharaoh." To us folks stateside, this all sounds quite unbelievable, since last year, the Egyptian people rose up in fury to oust Hosni Mubarak whom they believed had too much power. To Morsi, the outrage is entirely unexpected.
"In his head, the president thought that this would push us forward, but then it was met with all this inflammation," Ahmed Mekki, Egypt's Justice Minister and one of Morsi's closest advisors, told The New York Times on Sunday night. In the past couple of days, Mekki has begun pressuring Morsi to back away from his power play and work with the opposition. He thinks that Morsi should've consulted with them before issuing the decree but also think this exposes some real problems with Egypt's political climate. "I blame all of Egypt, because they do not know how to talk to each other." Meanwhile, at least three presidential advisors have resigned over the debacle.
Morsi wouldn't have a hard time tracking down the folks who are upset by his recent decree, because literally everybody else in the country is upset by his recent decree. Last week, Egypt's secular and liberal political parties formed a coalition, the National Salvation Front, to fight Morsi's decree. Over the weekend, the country's revolutionary forces and youth organizations joined the Front, and the Egyptian Press Syndicate called on its union members to stop working in solidarity with the coalition. As former presidential candidate Amr Moussa who also opposes the decree explained, "We are not asking for regime change but we are mobilizing to rescue Egypt because something seriously wrong has happened."
All of these groups don't necessarily include the hundreds if not thousands of protestors who have set up tents in Tahrir Square and appear to be digging in for a fight. On Tuesday, opposition groups as well as the Muslim Brotherhood have called for separate millions-strong demonstration in Tahrir and in front of Cairo University respectively. Things could get messy.
It might not have to come to that. Surprised as he may be, Morsi is willing to compromise and is scheduled to meet with Egypt's senior judges on Monday. However, some remain pessimistic about the possibility of a resolution. Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor at Cairo University is one of them and says he's spoken to both sides. He told Reuters, bluntly, "The situation is heading towards more trouble."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.