Some Egyptians Who Ran Out Mubarak Also Protest Morsi

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Robert Siegel talks with Alaa Al Aswany — a dentist, columnist, writer and activist — about the military role in mediating between Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the protesters who are calling for him to step down. Al Aswany says Morsi has become a "fascist dictator" and says it will not be hard to find someone better than him to lead Egypt.


To understand the views of some Egyptian protesters, we called on Alaa Al Aswany today. He's an Egyptian writer who was a protester against the old regime of Hosni Mubarak. Yesterday, he was protesting against President Mohammed Morsi. Al Asway says that Morsi was elected president to respect the Egyptian constitution. Instead, he argues, last year, Morsi made a declaration that violated the constitution, putting his own decisions above the law and the courts of Egypt.

ALAA AL ASWANY: He gave orders to the police. They killed about 134 protesters and about more than 3,000 Egyptians were arrested and they were tortured in a terrible way and he became a fascist dictator. Accordingly, we made a campaign called Rebuild. This campaign is to collect signatures for early presidential elections. Usually, in all democracies, as you know, the parliament has the right to vote among parliament members for early presidential elections. But we don't have a parliament in Egypt now. The parliament has been canceled by the supreme court.

SIEGEL: But as you understand it, as you read the statement from the military today, were they, in effect, telling President Morsi, you have 48 hours in which to relinquish much of the power that you have assumed?

AL ASWANY: Yes. I think it was written in a kind of diplomatic way but it was very clear that it was like a warning to Morsi that the army will not allow the Muslim Brothers to kill more Egyptians and that he must obey to these millions, these unprecedented numbers of Egyptians who went to the streets yesterday to ask him to permit them to have an early presidential election. So I believe that that was a warning to Morsi and very clear.

SIEGEL: Although, just to be clear, the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood were attacked, ransacked, the people inside came under attack. So there was violence against the Muslim Brotherhood as well yesterday, wasn't there?

AL ASWANY: Yes, of course there was violence against the Muslim Brothers but we must - we have two points here to discuss. Who began the violence? They began violence before the presidential palace on the force of (unintelligible) when they tortured people and when they killed people and when they used weapons against people.

Accordingly, people reacted to violence by violence. The second point here is if you are the leader of the Egyptian army, I can understand his point of view, that it is his role to save the country from a civil war, which is very, very obvious, you see. I don't see, I repeat, I don't see this as a military rule, but I think that it is a kind of a real role of the army to keep the street from falling apart.

SIEGEL: Well, is there any political party, movement or political leader who can harness the interest of all those millions of Egyptians who are protesting yesterday and be a more effective president of Egypt?

AL ASWANY: No. I think that this is a new wave of our revolution. It's not a new revolution, but it's the latest wave of the revolution. I think the real leaders are the youth, the youth who created this wonderful campaign for early presidential elections. They became in Egypt like national heroes. And they are all - I know them, the three of them, they are all under the age of 40 and they are very, very - these are the youth who made the revolution.

SIEGEL: And do they support anyone in particular, or any party in particular that might do a better job of governing than President Morsi and his party?

AL ASWANY: Yes. I think - well, it's not really a complicated thing to find somebody who is better than Morsi. I mean, this is the easiest thing to do.

SIEGEL: Well, Dr. Alaa Al Aswany, thank you very much for talking with us once again.

AL ASWANY: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: That's Alaa Al Aswany, Egyptian writer, novelist and a very vocal member of the opposition to Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi.

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