(TheBlaze/AP) — It is not uncommon for national leaders to grade their performance after a certain amount of time in office, but Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi spent much of a nearly two-hour speech Saturday talking up the accomplishments of his first 100 days in office. Discussing everything from bread prices to foreign policy, Morsi said little about the fate of women or religious minorities in the new Egypt.
61-year-old Morsi, the first freely elected president in Egypt’s history, primarily used his address to project an image of an energetic leader in touch with the needs of the people. Hailing from the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest and best-organized political group, Morsi made a slew of promises during his campaign, many of which require drastic changes to fulfill. Among his commitments, Morsi vowed to improve the quality of bread (much of which is provided by the government), put a stop to rising fuel shortages, clean up the city’s streets, and halt rising crime.
Unfortunately, by most accounts, crime has been on the rise since the fall of Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak, particularly against women and religious minorities. Many speculate this is because the government is now comprised largely of Islamists, whether it is the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood or the more fundamentalist Salafists. Liberal, reform-minded representatives are withdrawing one by one as they slowly lose influence.
Though many are concerned about, for instance, the possibility that the new constitution will allow 9-year-old girls to be married off to old men, Morsi championed his accomplishments in other areas. Speaking to a crowd of tens of thousands in Cairo at Egypt’s largest sports stadium, Morsi claimed that scientific methods gave him a success rate of 80 percent on bread, 60 percent on traffic, 40 percent on garbage collection, 85 percent on fuel and 70 percent on security.
Discussing foreign policy, Morsi said his nine international trips to date – Saudi Arabia (twice), China, Iran, Belgium, Ethiopia, Turkey, the United States and Italy – secured for Egypt billions of dollars of investment and monetary aid. Prior to his trip to the United States, Morsi detailed how relations between Egypt and the West are about to change– specifically, that the power dynamic is due for a shift.
To bolster his assertion that he is in no way abusing his power, Morsi told the roaring crowd: “I am still living in a rented apartment…If anyone sees me driving a new car that is not owned by the state [they] should report it.”
“They are trying to find a hole in a seamless white dress,” he said of his critics. “We have a glorious future ahead of us.”
According to the Associated Press, however, Morsi offered few tangible solutions for Egypt, where nearly half of the estimated 83 million people live below or just above the poverty line. He declared himself married to the fight against corruption, but offered no ways to improve basic services such as medical care, education or housing for the poor.
He also failed to touch on the restrictions that critics say have been placed on freedom of expression in the three months since he took office and the return of abuses by the police – documented by human rights groups.
Morsi chose the 39th anniversary of Egypt’s last war with Israel to give the longest speech of his presidency – 1 hour and 50 minutes – and the symbolism of the date is being noticed.
“He turned the national day (October 6) into a platform for his Freedom and Justice party and the presidency,” prominent analyst and columnist Abdullah el-Sinawi said. “After nearly 40 years, the occasion has become a platform for the Brotherhood and a show of its strength.”
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