Comparing the June 30 Protest Law with the Morsi Government’s Proposed Demonstration Law

Nov 25

Here is a link to a memo providing a detailed, article by article comparison between the law promulgated by the June 30 government and that proposed by the Morsi government.

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Morsi and the Legality of Early Presidential Elections

Aug 15

Those inclined to blame Morsi and the MB for all that has happened focus on his refusal to move forward with early presidential elections. I have been trying to get an answer to this question for a long time, and no one, as far as I know, has bothered to attempt an answer: by what legal authority could Morsi have set new elections? There was a law governing presidential elections (which I believe was in fact drafted by none other then the current interim president, Adli Mansur), and the constitution even set out the timing of presidential elections. Assuming that early presidential elections was constitutionally feasible, a law authorizing such elections would have had to be passed. I’m not arguing that Morsi would have done so; I think there are good reasons why the MB feared early presidential elections, at least in the absence of a parliament, but as I recall events during the #Jan25 revolution, people were very concerned that Mubarak’s resignation would cause a constitutional crisis. Persons like Hossam Bahgat even wrote a column in the Washington Post addressing the constitutional crisis that would arise if Mubarak simply left.

I have read reports that Morsi was indeed willing to resign once a parliament had been elected precisely to avoid a constitutional crisis that would allow for the return of military rule. This was not an unreasonable position, if true. Whatever one’s views of Morsi or the MB, did we Egyptians not at least owe it to ourselves to exhaust constitutional possibilities prior to empowering the police and the army, with an all too predictable result?

Perhaps the MB would not respect election results, God knows, but they would have no standing at that point. Now, they are martyrs and Egypt stands at the precipice of collapse.

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Lipset’s Law, Egypt and Democratic Transition

Mar 28

One of the most basic reasons why my judgment on events in Egypt during its post-Mubarak transition differs from that of others is my relative pessimism on what can be achieved in the short-term, other than simply securing the foundations for formal democracy.  Based on that starting point, I have given President Morsi wide leeway, because it seems to me that what he has been attempting to do is no more than establish the foundations for a formal democratic regime, one that no doubt will be greatly troubled and flawed, and will certainly fall short of the aspirations of many “revolutionaries,” particularly the youthful vanguard.

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Morsi’s First Six Months — An Appraisal (Part I)

Jan 28

I have just published a post on the first six months of Morsi’s administration, at the valuable blog,, on the invitation of its founder, Farah Halime.  This is part I of the essay. Part II, inshallah, will appear next week.

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Hobbes, Rawls and Egypt

Nov 28

A few days ago, I tweeted that Egypt was in a Hobbesian moment, not a Rawlsian one, and that Egypt’s draft constitution ought to be evaluated in light of that fact. 

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Sovereign Immunity, Islamic Law and Morsi’s Decrees

Nov 28

Does Islamic law have a conception of sovereign immunity? Yes, and it is derived from the notion of the public official as a public agent.  This relationship defines both why it is obligatory to obey lawful acts of a public agent.– because one is always bound by the lawful acts taken by one’s own agent — and why one is not bound by the ruler’s unlawful acts — because an agent’s unlawful acts are beyond the scope of his agency and are thus that of a private person and not of an agent. 

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Egypt’s Constitutional Crisis

Nov 24

Egypt is in the grip of another in a series of what appear to be unending crises threatening the viability of a transition to a democratic order.  This current crisis is the result of the interaction of three factors: the first is the inability of the constituent assembly to reach a consensus on provisions in the constitution dealing with the role of Islam in the state and the extent of individual freedoms.  That this should have been a stumbling block could hardly have come as a surprise to anyone with an inkling of knowledge of Egyptian political history over the last 75 years.   The second is the looming threat that the Supreme Constitutional Court could dissolve the Constituent Assembly on the grounds that because it was appointed by a parliament which was itself dissolved, it lacks valid legal authority to perform its work.  The third is the omnipresent threat of imminent economic collapse if the Egyptian state cannot reconstitute itself in a reasonably timely fashion, something that must have been a precipitating factor in President Morsi’s sweeping decrees of last week.

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Playing a Losing Game of Chicken in Egypt

Nov 23

The problem in Egypt is that there is a giant ultimatum game going on, with the opposition threatening to deny the legitimacy of the constitution by walking out and convincing the SCC to invalidate the CA; well, it turns out that Morsi knows how to deploy a tit-for-tat strategy in the context of an ultimatum game, and people are surprised.  Hmm. 

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The IMF and the Egyptian Revolution

Aug 22

Christina Lagarde, head of the IMF, was in Egypt today to negotiate with the Egyptian government the terms of a new $4.8 billion loan.  Predictably, many Egyptians are suspicious.  An Egyptian economist, Wael Gamal, who has solid revolutionary credentials and is economically progressive, writes on Egypt’s economic affairs for al-Shuruq, a leading independent Egyptian newspaper.  He has come out strongly against the proposed loan, first, in a piece in the Shuruq, and again on his blog.

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Civil State, Islamic State, Mafia State

Jun 17

Many revolutionaries who voted for Shafik, or who abstained or nullified their vote, did so on the grounds that they were defending the idea of a “civil” state.  This suggests that, in their mind, there are only two kinds of states in the world: “civil” states and “religious” states. 

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