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A Former Parliament Member Says His Plan Will Heal Egypt's Political Wounds, But Critics Aren't So Sure

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi pray outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque.

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi pray outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters installed a camp and held daily rallies at Nasr City in Cairo, on 20 July, 2013. A brutal crackdown on the sit-in the following month left hundreds dead. Photo by Volpi Francesca. Copyright Demotix.

Days after being released from prison, former member of parliament and Muslim Brotherhood supporter Muhammed ElOmda announced an initiative to resolve the current political conflict in Egypt.

ElOmda announced a seven-point initiative to help resolve the year-long political crisis, which escalated when the country's first democratically elected president, Muhammed Morsi, was ousted from office by the current president and former minister of defense Abdelfattah El Sisi.

ElOmda's plan called on the government to legalize the Muslim Brotherhood and end the ban on its activities as well as the Brotherhood and its supporters to accept Sisi’s term as a transitional period. It also includes changes to the controversial parliamentary elections law, a cancellation of or changes to the controversial protest law, and justice for those killed since the beginning of the revolution in 2011.

Islamist political movement Muslim Brotherhood had gained political victories in both parliamentary and presidential elections following the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak during the January 25th revolution in 2011. The Brotherhood was banned and labeled a terrorist organization by the current system following Morsi's ousting. Despite accusations of the contrary, the Brotherhood denies having taken any part in any acts of violence or terrorism.

Two laws ratified during interim President Adly Mansour's term have caused controversy even among political groups that supported the unseating of Morsi: the protest law and the parliamentary elections law. Among the controversial points of the protest law was an article that requires protest organizers to inform the police about:

1. The place of the public meeting or route of the march or protest.

2. The start and end time of the public meeting, march or protest.

3. The subject of the public meeting or march or protest, its aim and the demands and slogans adopted by the participants in them.

4. The names of the individuals or organising organisation of the public meeting or march or protest, their description, place of residence and communication information.

It also requires that the organizers give the police a notice at least three days before the protest, and places a fine between 10,000 to 30,000 Egyptian pounds (about 1,400 to 4,200 US dollars).

Critics of the current law that organizes and regulates the parliamentary elections and the political structure of the parliament claim that it “will recreate the same political environment which allowed Hosni Mubarak’s now-dissolved National Democratic Party to manipulate all political power.”

ElOmda was arrested last year along with other supporters of deposed President Morsi following the violent dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in by security forces that left hundreds dead. He was released a few weeks ago.

His proposal has been met with much criticism and skepticism from both sides of the current conflict.

Former parliamentarian and Muslim Brotherhood opponent Mohamed Abu Hamed, who supports the current regime, wrote the following to his followers on Twitter:

Muhammed ElOmda’s appearance in the media and what he proposes symbolizes an insult to the people and the blood of the martyrs and promotes terrorism and treason and this demeaning show must be stopped immediately.

Mazhar Shaheen, a Muslim preacher and an outspoken opponent of the Brotherhood, in a YouTube video he shared on his Twitter page, said:

I believe that the natural place for these initiatives is the trash can.

Opponents of the current regime have also rejected the initiative.

Egyptian lawyer Montaser Elayat, known for his legal defense of Islamist groups in Egypt and other countries in various court cases, responded to ElOmda’s initiative by writing a press release in which he congratulated ElOmda on his release from prison and then said:

أن المبادرات الاعلامية تمثل دخان في الهواء لا تعبر عن طرف من الأطراف المتصارعة داخل معسكرين رئيسيين بل وحيدين نظام جبري ومعارضوه

The ‘public-consumption’ initiatives represent smoke in the air and do not represent one of the conflicting parties within two main isolated camps: a tyrannical regime and its opposition.

Writer, historian, and political activist Mohamed Elgawady tweeted:

ElOmda’s initiative in one word: Nonsense. In two words: A waste of time. In three words: Writing in the wind.
In four words: A twisted rope that chokes its owner

A former parliamentarian and adviser to the former minster of Religious Endowments, Dr. Mohamed AsSagheer, focused on the seemingly contradictory nature of the initiative:

Muhammed ElOmda’s initiative
The first article: El Sisi remains president for four years
The last article: Execution of those who killed and burned the protesters, and that is El Sisi, as human rights organizations have mentioned!

Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of the Arab-American women’s Nonelneswa Magazine Ayat Oraby, who has also opposed the current system, wrote on her Facebook page:

It is rejected and not even open to discussion!

She then went on to say:

“I personally excuse him and I will not attack him, for no one knows the magnitude of the pressure that he faced.”

So far neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the Anti-Coup Alliance, a coalition of Islamist organizations against the ouster of Morsi, has issued an official statement in response to the initiative. No government officials have made any remarks regarding the matter either. ElOmda has said that he will present his initiative to the government and presidency as well as the opposition and Islamist parties.

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