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President Mohamed Morsy will not step back from the constitutional declaration he issued on Thursday, prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper Tuesday.
“The president will not step back from the constitutional declaration, as there are no other alternatives,” Mahmoud Hussein, the group’s secretary general and member of the Guidance Bureau said, adding that the president's office made the decision, and not the bureau.
Hussein acknowledged that the decision was a “surprise” to the media, but said it had been discussed by the president and his advisers and that the decision couldn't be announced in advanced because of the president's "opponents."
He also said that the Supreme Constitutional Court had set 2 December to rule on the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly. Morsy's constitutional declaration protects the Constituent Assembly from being dissolved, as well as the Shura Council, provoking a fierce backlash from the Egyptian political opposition and many members of the judiciary.
Hussein also lashed out at Constitution Party founder Mohamed ElBaradei’s depiction of Morsy as a new pharaoh, calling it “reckless and cruel," and rejected calls for Western intervention, in an indirect rejoinder to Elbaradei's statement.
Asked if Morsy’s declaration had united liberal forces against the Muslim Brotherhood, Hussein claimed Egyptians supported the decision, and that some groups that had demonstrated at the presidential palace in support of Morsy were not Brotherhood members but still backed him.
Brotherhood Spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan agreed with the sentiment, saying, “President Morsy’s decisions express a real popular will. People who supported him taking such decisions will not accept him stepping back.”
Leaders of the group and its Freedom and Justice Party are increasingly under pressure by the Brotherhood’s youth members, who want a response to the recent attacks against the group’s headquarters in some governorates, he said.
“Our members ask why we don’t defend ourselves. 'Why do we stand idly by against such frequent attacks? Until when?' However, we call on them to be patient," Ghozlan said.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm