In its inaugural session held Sunday, Egypt’s new parliament saw a number of independent and party-affiliated MPs attacking the 25 January revolution that ousted president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
By contrast, MPs heaped praise on the mass protests of June 30, 2013, which led to the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from office and ended the one-year rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The attacks against the anti-Mubarak revolution began when independent MP Mortada Mansour said he has so far not been able to “digest” it, and as a result cannot take the national oath because the preamble of the country’s new constitution praises the 18-day revolt.
“The preamble of this constitution says that it reflects the principles of the 25 January revolution and the 30 June revolution, and I only believe in the second revolution,” said Mansour.
Mansour also attacked Article 104 of the new constitution on the grounds that “it obliges MPs to pledge support for a part of the constitution we do not believe in.”
In his speech after being elected parliament speaker, Constitutional law professor Ali Abdel-Al called on MPs to observe a minute of silence in respect for the “martyrs of both the 25 January and 30 June revolutions, as well as those among the police, military and judiciary.”
After Mubarak left office on 11 February 2011, Mansour faced charges that he had hired “armed thugs” to attack pro-democracy protesters at Tahrir Square on the first of February in what came to be known as “the Battle of the Camel.”
Mansour and others, mostly leading officials who were affiliated with Mubarak’s now-defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), were acquitted of the charges in 2013. Since then, however, Mansour has been a fierce critic of the anti-Mubarak revolution.
Although Mansour was forced by Bahaaeddin Abu-Shoqa, an appointed MP who chaired the parliament’s opening procedural sitting, to read out the oath completely and verbatim, his negative remarks about the anti-Mubarak revolution struck a chord with a lot of MPs.
Tawfik Okasha, an independent MP and owner of the private TV channel Al-Faraeen, also insisted that the new parliament “represents the 30 June revolution only”.
Okasha, who submitted a bid for the post of parliament’s speaker, said “it is a big honour for me to be one of those who urged people to revolt on 30 June and as a result the new parliament should represent the 30 June revolution only.”
“I decided to run for the speaker’s post because I was one of those who were about to sacrifice their life during 30 June and because this parliament represents its principles.”
Okasha was an MP in 2010’s parliament, which was dissolved after Mubarak’s ouster. He used his Faraeen channel to defend the ruling military junta that took over in Egypt after Mubarak was ousted and to attack president Morsi.
One MP, Mohamed El-Itmani, was silenced by his peers when he attempted to defend the 25 January revolution.
Mansour and Okasha, alongside other MPs, intervened to prevent El-Itmani, a young MP affiliated with the pro-government bloc entitled The Pro-Egyptian State Coalition, from speaking about the 25 January revolution.
El-Itmani, who was introducing himself as a nominee for the speaker’s post, said “we are here to represent the two great revolutions of 25 January and 30 June.” No sooner had El-Itmani uttered the words when Okasha and Mansour led a chorus of MPs in attacking him.
El-Itmani defended himself by saying, “I, as a young man, had the honour of participating in the 25 January revolution, but I admit that the 30 June revolution came to correct the mistakes of 25 January revolution.”
“But nobody can forget the people who sacrificed their lives in 25 January to build a more democratic Egypt and we have to respect their souls.”
Egypt’s new parliament includes a large number of MPs who were members of Mubarak’s ruling party and who insist that the January uprising was a conspiracy led by the United States.
Saeed Sadek, a political analyst and a professor of sociology with the American University in Cairo, told Ahram Online that “early attacks against the anti-Mubarak revolution in Egypt’s new parliament come as no surprise” to him.
“This parliament includes a large number of former Mubarak ruling party MPs who have a grudge against the Muslim Brotherhood and America, taking both to task for spreading chaos in Egypt in the past four years,” said Sadek.
“It is not good for Egyptian MPs to begin their work by alienating a big sector of the Egyptian society who believe in the January revolution.”
The opening procedural sitting of Egypt’s new parliament comes one day after the Court of Cassation – the country’s highest judicial authority – upheld the conviction of Mubarak on corruption charges.