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Questions and answers

Kersten Knipp / db
January 30, 2013

German political leaders have a host of questions for visiting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The government wants to know how Morsi plans to reduce tensions and hostility in Egypt.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is seen during a photo opportunity in his office at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. (Foto:Maya Alleruzzo/AP/dapd)
Image: AP

Leading Egyptian newspapers give the impression that the revolution has more or less lost sight of its goals. "We dreamed of change," writes Al-Masry Al-Yaum and adds: "Unfortunately, nothing has changed - it is as if the revolution had never happened." An editorial writer at Al-Shuruq offers a similarly sobering assessment. Two years ago, people dreamed of a miracle, the paper says - and this is what the miracle looks like today: "Our children are thrown into prison. The poor get even poorer while the rich, under different names and in new alliances, increase their wealth."

Inconvenient questions

Indeed, the times are difficult in Egypt as the country's President Mohamed Morsi embarks on a visit originally scheduled to stop in to several European capitals this week but then cut back due to unrest at home to just a few hours in Germany. His visit to Germany starting on Wednesday is bound to be filled with his hosts' urgent questions - even if they do understand the difficult situation Egypt finds itself in.

After decades of dictatorship, Egyptians now seek new forms of social cooperation, Ruprecht Polenz, head of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee, told DW. "It would be impudent to expect it to be a completely straightforward process without setbacks."

Egyptian protesters(Photo:Hussein Tallal/AP/dapd)
'The second anniversary of the revolution was far from peacefulImage: AP

However, German foreign policy experts are uncertain as to where this process might lead. Klaus Brandner, head of the German-Egyptian Group of Parliamentarians, expects the islamization of Egyptian society will increase. Brandner does not expect Egypt to move in the direction of a theocracy, but rather to follow the Turkish model that stipulates a clear separation of state and religion. Traditionally, Egypt is self-confident in religious matters, Brandner told DW, but that "does not mean that conservative-clerical forces alone are responsible for the state's social orientation."

Moderate islamization

Ruprecht Polenz urged more plurality among these very forces. It is very unfortunate, the Christian Democratic politician said, that authorities had not succeeded in adopting a constitution that politicians across party lines could have agreed to. Polenz mentioned the difficulty of discerning from the outside the reasons for that failure but added the fact remains that secular forces felt they could not assert themselves against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups.  The constitution was finally passed in a referendum, which was not surprising, Polenz said. It is the nature of a referendum to allow only a "yes or no vote" but not to allow for suggestions to change individual articles.

graffiti of woman's head photo place: Cairo, Egypt copy rights: Nael Eltoukhy
Graffiti in CairoImage: DW

Upcoming parliamentary elections are an opportunity for Egypt, Klaus Brandner said: "They offer the chance to advance the process of democratization." A strong parliament is a prerequisite for a country to be a real democracy, not merely a democracy in name. "It is all about social rights, human rights and in particular women's rights, Brandner said. "Without these rights, a successful economy is also impossible." 

President Morsi heads for Europe and leaves behind a troubled nation. In Berlin, he is sure to face in-depth questions about the unrest in Egypt and what he plans to do about it.

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