Meet Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi ... aka ‘Morsillini’
You can call him “Morsillini,” if you concur with what Twitter users are nicknaming the Egyptian president following a recent power-consuming decree announced by the leader.
A portmanteau of Mursi and Mussolini, the new tag is just one example of how Mursi’s decree on Thursday drew fire from international commentators.
With the “revolutionary aim,” he claimed, of sacking the state prosecutor and demanding a retrial of officials involved in the 2011 protester killings, Mursi awarded himself powers that inflamed a standoff with the country's judiciary.
“Numerous comparisons abounded to ancient Egypt, claiming Mursi had just named himself into the new Pharaoh, and clever Egyptian Twitter users began referring to the president as “Morsillini,” wrote Time contributor Ashraf Khalil.
The sweeping powers, which were the means to attain his revolutionary aims, included the protection of presidential decisions from any judicial review. A roaring statement of dogmatic clout.
And so, the microblogging site was flooded with the term, drawing hardhearted ties between fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and Egypt’s Islamist president.
“Mursi now has a critical hashtag called #Morsillini. A portmanteau of Mursi and Mussolini,” posted Twitter user @Bassem_Sabry.
And the label quickly prompted a few quips.
“Morsillini: ‘I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet,’” posted @ahmadfahmy.
“Morsillini: " I have the right to issue orders, laws and they can't be revoked. I have the right to jail you, execute you & marry your wife, " the same user tweeted.
And the news attracted a sarcastic putdown from Egyptian activist Lubna Darwish, who tweeted: “His excellency president #Morsillini, leader of government, parliament and constitution, head of fascism, and founder of the renaissance.
With prominent political dissidents, such as Egyptian opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei, requesting that Mursi rescind his power decrees and a judicial backlash against the president, rebellious criticisms seen in the form of Tahrir Square sit-ins and the torching of Mursi’s party offices have gushed out.
But why the Mussolini parallels?
The history books recall a moment in the 1920s when the Italian leader introduced a Fascist Grand Council which would decide policy for Italy without consulting the non-fascists in the government first.
This restricted power from being shared liberals who were in the government.
But this does not mirror a key point (or discrepancy) in the Mursi fiasco.
“One of the ironies is that many Egyptian revolutionaries would, in different circumstances, be thrilled to see Public Prosecutor Mahmoud, essentially the country’s attorney general, sacked,” Khalil wrote, in reference to veteran prosecutor being at the center of controversy in recent months after the acquittals of Hosni Mubarak-era officials on trial for protester deaths
The decree also protects an assembly writing the country's new constitution from dissolution and gives it extra time to finish its work.
The new constitution is a fundamental component of Egypt's transition to democracy but its drafting has been plagued by disputes, mainly pitting Islamists against their secular-minded critics.
So his decisions are not all bad, some might argue.
“I wish the President met with the secular leaders and coordinated with them before this (Especially that he met with some of them and some of the activists earlier),” says Omar Ashour, Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Exeter.
“He can still call for dialogue and calm. He definitely needs to enhance communication strategies,” Ashour adds.
Indeed, the abrupt announcement of such a drastic decree has been seen as a dictatorial feat in itself.
But perhaps the president has already realized this. On Sunday, Mursi reiterated the “temporary nature" of his decrees, saying he wanted dialogue with political forces.
At that, “Morsillini” could soon diminish before he gets a chance to shine in a percieved authoritarian spotlight.