Should Mohamed Morsi be TIME’s Person of the Year?

Last week, as he made a bid to become Egypt’s latest dictator, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis, and drawing new crowds to Tahrir Square, TIME magazine interviewed Mohamed Morsi. The ‘exclusive’ interview took the title ‘We’re Learning How to Be Free’ — which, in light of Morsi’s recent attempt to grant himself un-democratic powers, seems just a little dishonest. The opening gambit seems to credit Morsi for the ceasefire in Gaza, and acknowledges the county’s crisis, but the three interviewers — TIME managing editor Rick Stengel, editor-at-large Bobby Ghosh and Jerusalem bureau chief Karl Vick — never seem to press him on the point.

The interview begins with this note:

in previous stories, TIME had spelled the President’s surname as Morsy, based on his Ph.D. dissertation for the University of Southern California; his advisers in Cairo say the preferred spelling is Morsi.

A kind of pedantry which would have been better applied, in this interview, to Egyptian constitutional law.

The interview — even in full transcript — seems wildly superficial and full of odd attempts to describe Morsi’s personal side:

On accusations that he is a new pharaoh and tyrant: New pharaoh? [Laughs] … I went to prison. [He touches his tie.]

And, apart from that, see the weird mentions of his memories of watching ‘U.S. television’ during his Ph.D. in California — does this make him seem more human? — and his love for Gone with the Wind and the original Planet of the Apes.

I remember a movie. Which one? Planet of the Apes. The old version, not the new one. There is new one. Which is different. Not so good. It’s not expressing the reality as it was the first one. But at the end, I still remember, this is the conclusion: When the big monkey, he was head of the supreme court I think — in the movie! — and there was a big scientist working for him,  cleaning things, has been chained there. And it was the planet of the apes after the destructive act of a big war, and atomic bombs and whatever in the movie. And the scientists was asking him to do something, this was 30 years ago: “Don’t forget you are a monkey.” He tells him, “Don’t ask me about this dirty work.”  What did the big ape, the monkey say? He said, “You’re human, you did it [to] yourself.” That’s the conclusion. Can we do something better for ourselves? I saw it 30 years ago. That is the role of the art.

Issandr Amrani, writing at the Arabist, comments that Morsi is calling the Supreme Constitutional Court a “monkey”.

TIME magazine missed a critical opportunity to ask ‘the most important man in the Middle East’ the most timely and important question: What does Mohamed Morsi think of James Franco?



11 thoughts on “Should Mohamed Morsi be TIME’s Person of the Year?

  1. what? sorry, i’m confused. what are you saying? morsi SHOULD be the Times’ man of the year. he’s being super supportive of U.S. policies–all apologetic and ish about his people challenging the u.s. embassy. that’s the type of man the u.s. of a. needs in the head of state office. the times is merely a reflection on u.s. national interest. i’m not saying this to throw any shade on your work,.. but revolutions don’t happen in a year or two. after a (seemingly) tumultuous revolution, history has shown that putative leaders often make ish stricter than it was before the upheaval. it is in that interim space that folks bring the country to a more freer society. i sincerely hope _africa is a country_ keeps reporting on that joint.

  2. * It’s worth remembering, perhaps, that TIME magazine Person of the Year has historically been an organ of strange congratulations, exhibiting a distinct preference for war-mongers whose beliefs seem to offer short-term agreements with US government policy. Nazi-sympathizer Charles Lindbergh was the first to win, followed by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin (twice), Richard Nixon (twice), Cold-War enthusiast John Foster Dulles, alleged war criminal Henry Kissinger, Ayatollah Khomeini, Newt Gingrich, George Bushes junior and senior (3 times between them), and Vladimir Putin.

  3. Reblogged this on My Egyptian Intermezzo and commented:
    I can’t help I have to re-blog:-)
    I am lacking words to comment the following quotation after I see the actions…
    From the Time’s interview:
    “On accusations that he is a new pharaoh and tyrant: New pharaoh? [Laughs] … I went to prison. [He touches his tie.] And I was the chair of the materials department at university when I went to prison. The reason why I went to prison is that I was defending the judiciary and Egyptian judges. I know perfectly what it means to have separation between the three powers — executive power, legislative power and the judiciary. This is the main concept about a state based on institutions. The people are the original source of power. The President represents the executive power, and the President is elected by the people. “

  4. I cancelled my subscription to Time last year due to their elevation of war-mongers to a deemed acceptable level. Morsi is proving himself to be a dictator and must be removed immediately. The people of Egypt should take a lesson from the people of Iceland with regards to how to write a constitution. They are doing it via the internet and the entire citizenry is involved.

  5. It is disgusting and shameful that just an esteemed magazine like TIME would put Morsi on their cover. He is a fascist dictator who has caused a civil war in his country. I will cancel my subscription and have encouraged all my friends to do so as well.

  6. Some at AIAC endorse Hugo Chavéz. Is he a dictator? Many actions point to yes. Though much of Chavéz program is beneficial to the people, crime rate in Caracas has greatly increased since his tenure, he bleeds Venezuelan monies to other countries, he controls more than a democratic leader normally does. Still, there are the positives in his administration. Yes, a bit of apple and oranges comparasion, yet Morsi as well was fairly elected and represents the majority of his people, citizens who haven’t seen a ballot box before this.

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