Translation: President Mohamed Morsi’s Address to the Nation

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Editor’s Note: The following is a translation that stays faithful to President Mohamed Morsi’s June 26 speech on the occasion of the one year anniversary of his inauguration. In his speech, the president often appeared to go off script, speaking casually in Egyptian colloquialisms. Our aim is to convey the same expressions in English. For our analysis of the speech, please click here

I stand before you today to transparently make an account of my first year, including all that was promised, what steps were taken, and the difficulties faced so that you all can see what we were able to accomplish –all of Egypt and its people—what we were unable to accomplish and the things that we have struggled with. I present to you the roadmap for all Egyptians and what this period is. Every revolution has its enemies and every people its competitors. Each nation faces challenges, and we as Egyptians can, God willing, overcome this period. All I ask of you is to listen with a spirit of understanding that lifts up the affairs of our nation so that we can build on the positive aspects and avoid the negative ones—not with this spirit that distorts, and makes treason out of everything.

Delays in economic development for which we have no alternative and which cannot be achieved except through political stability have aggravated living conditions, which we have not been able to address without encountering other issues. Allow me to speak to you frankly and share with you what has brought us to this. There are a number of factors that must be understood, recognized and dealt with immediately. After an entire year of these challenges and events, we cannot waste a single second or minute. I shall begin with myself and the institution of the presidency. It is not just or wise to hurl blame at others without first realizing that we find ourselves in an extremely complicated situation, such as what we are going through in Egypt after the revolution.

I have struggled along with those who are loyal in this situation to appraise matters. I have been right at times and been wrong at others. Of course I have made many mistakes and been right as much as possible. Mistakes are to be expected, but correcting them is a duty. I add, I am a man who has become accustomed over long years to being a teacher and researcher. In knowledge, experimentation, and research people are right and people make mistakes. In politics this is even more true, however correcting mistakes as soon as we discover them is the most important. I put in effort and now believe the time has come to turn our revolution and its tremendous energy into an energy for building and development.

The way to do this is by avoiding exceptional procedures as much as possible and seeking to reform institutions from the inside. Experiences throughout this year have proven that the revolution, in order to move toward realizing its goals must undergo farreaching and rapid reforms.

The map of political parties after the revolution presents a faithful representation of the various popular currents and efforts and that the political experience based on elections and the legitimacy of the ballot box are sufficient to take in everyone. However, experience has shown that basic forces such as the youth have not found a place in many of the current parties or in the political process. Many of these forces do not find today, two and a half years after the revolution, any way other than returning to the streets and squares to express their positions and demands. This signifies that the youth possess a revolutionary state and energy for change that they are not finding an outlet for in political life. We must fix this.

It would be simple to promote to executive positions the greatest talents who were blocked during years of nepotism and corruption in the old regime. Experience has shown, however, that the means we have to know, attract and direct this talent and expertise are insufficient in accommodating and putting them forward. Many of them continue to be far from participating and being effective, despite their interest, flow of ideas and the abundance of what they have to offer.

Regarding the institution of the presidency, I say completely frankly so that I may take on my share as well of the responsibility for the current circumstances and to move toward correcting them insightfully and responsibly. So what about others? It is no secret to any rational being that there are some abroad who are overtly hostile to this revolution. There are those who realize what a free, strong, growing, developed Egypt could provide to its community, both at home and abroad.

There are those who crave the ability to turn back the clock and revert to the state of corruption, oppression, monopolization and injustice. It seems, unfortunately, that there are those among us who cannot imagine being able to eat or live without it.

Egypt’s enemies have spared no effort in attempting to sabotage the democratic experiment. They have led it into a state of violence, defamation, incitement, and corrupt financing, as well as playing with fire in vitally important institutions. It is known that the remnants of those who benefited from the old regime have difficulty in seeing Egypt rise up.

There is a national opposition, and we cannot do anything but stand side by side in order for it to become stronger and have a popular presence whereby it carries out its basic roles in the alternation of power, democratic oversight, and presenting alternatives for ruling and development.

I am keen for real and democratic exchange of power in Egypt—even tomorrow—as long as it is according to the stability and constitution we have realized in the path to democracy. And I will be keen for us to become accustomed to exchanging power in a peaceful way like the rest of the world.

A high price was paid in the revolution. We must not forget it and remember those who sacrificed for stability, freedom, dignity and social justice.

A year has passed since I stood among you in Tahrir Square and took my oath of office to assume the great responsibility in this crucial period, with hope uniting us to build the new Egypt that we have been dreaming of.

Oh great people of Egypt, I stand before you today as Mohamed Morsi, an Egyptian citizen before I am a president responsible for the fate of a country and the future of a people.

I stand before you as a citizen fearful for my country, my homeland, my nation, fearful for our beloved Egypt. God forbid that any adversity strike it that is afflicting the Arab and Muslim world, or even the whole world.

I stand before you to speak to you frankly and honestly. There is not enough time to go through all the positions or all the facts.

We spent ten years in Egypt dreaming: when, O Lord, when…How can we change the unjust, criminal regime…without Egypt losing blood, without our sons in the future suffering from any sort of division…When our Lord granted permission for the revolution, it was only by the grace of God. We were all hand in hand, in order, by God, to do away with the adversity, injustice, forgery, corruption, and theft.

We removed the regime and followed the path together as we see in detail. It is no secret from anyone of us that we are still faced with challenges.

I stand to declare transparently, looking back on my first year, to realize together what we have been able to accomplish and what we were unable to, and what we want. We have accomplished some of the things and faltered in others. We still have challenges ahead of us.

We are Egyptians, able, God willing, to overcome this period and its challenges.

All that I ask from you now is to listen, understand, and discuss with a spirit that lifts up the affairs of the nation, and to look for the positives to build upon and the negatives to address.

This is not the spirit that distorts everything or treats everything as treasonous. It would not be Egypt[ian] for us to act this way. Egypt is not like this at all. This kind of spirit is strange to us.

I was hoping that the circumstances would be satisfactory to us all. However, Egypt is facing several challenges.

Polarization and political fragmentation have reached the point where they threaten our nascent democratic experiment, even jeopardizing the entire nation with a state of paralysis and chaos. This is something that none of us wants.

A number of factors have led us to this state that must be recognized and dealt with immediately. After an entire year we cannot waste a single minute or second.

I will begin with myself and the institution of the presidency: In a highly complicated situation such as that in which we are living in Egypt after the revolution, I have expended efforts with those who are faithful in this country in appraising matters, both making mistakes and doing the right thing at various times. This is not just talk.

Mistakes are to be expected, but correcting them is a duty. I am a man who has grown accustomed over many long years to be knowledgeable and always searching, and if you so wish you could say, knowing. In knowing, experimenting, and searching, people make mistakes, and even more so in politics. But correcting mistakes is even more important.

The time has come to change our revolution and its incredible energy into energy of building and growth. The way to achieve this is by avoiding exceptional procedures. Experience over the past year has proven that the revolution in order to move toward realizing its goals must see radical and rapid reforms.

There is no longer any advantage nor personal interests in the authorities. Nay, there is zeal and a keenness to take on responsibility.

I want Egypt, while we are living together, to stand up on its feet and for its children to seriously take control of it.

The January 25 revolution is only one revolution. All Egyptians took part in it, and it continues on.

Any rational person knows that there are those who wish to lead the revolution astray in blatant hostility. There are those who realize what a powerful, growing and developed Egypt is capable of providing its nation and to the world. There are those who falsely believe the clock can be turned back and the state of corruption, oppression, monopolization, and injustice can be restored. Unfortunately, it seems as if there are those among us who cannot imagine themselves living with it.

It is very strange for one to see people speaking as if they are the revolutionaries. Was Makram Mohamed Ahmed a revolutionary? The journalists syndicate rose up against him, removed him and chose someone else. After two years in the presence of a good president, whoever knows anything…will say “I am one of the revolutionaries”…even Safwat al-Sharif and Zakariya Azmi will tomorrow be revolutionaries…why not? Everyone is innocent…why not?

Egypt’s enemies have spared no effort in trying to sabotage the democratic experiment. They have led us into a cycle of violence, defamation, incitement, and financing as well as playing with fire in vitally important institutions. It is well known that the rest of those who benefitted from the former regime are finding it difficult to see Egypt truly rise up—its people, army, and police force all together.

The criminal regime of old would do whatever it wanted and employ those from the security apparatus and protect them. Later on there were rifts, envy, and splits between the people and some of the security men, and sometimes even the distortion of the institution.

On the other hand, there is a national opposition with which we stand side by side, whereby it carries out its basic oversight role in politics. I hope for there to be a true transfer of power in Egypt according to the constitutional stability we have achieved.

We want a loyal opposition that have the vision and perspectives of the people who elected them, so there can be an alternation of power between whomever holds it and those elected by the people. At the first sign of disagreement with the presidency, some factions have chosen to give up the rules of the democratic process such as commitment to the ballot box and legitimacy, ignoring the extended hand offering dialogue. Instead, they rushed to question the legitimacy of the entire regime and the absurd scene now is of them standing with the youth of the revolution saying that they are revolutionaries. They want to attack the democratic experiment; it is a documented reality that they are pushing the country to make a blind leap, those criminals that have no place among us.

Is Ahmed Shafiq one of the revolutionaries? He has cases against him and he says things that incite a coup against the ruling regime. He is abroad but yet some go to him as if he himself is a symbol of the revolution.

I hold the Egyptian judiciary in high esteem, for without it governance cannot stabilize in Egypt. However, one of the members of the judicial circuit, which is handling the Shafiq case, Ahmed Mohamed Ali al-Nemr, is an illegitimate judge. This is well known and I have submitted a complaint against him myself. Ali al-Nemr is among twenty-two who must be investigated for election fraud.

Why would Ahmed Shafiq file an appeal concerning the elections after all the efforts we have seen exerted by the military, Article 128 and the constitutional court decision? He says that he will appeal the election results, how will he do so? The Judiciary will decide that. Why were all those people released from jail? It’s not the judge’s fault. No, the cases that were filed and the original report of the first fact-finding commission were not presented to Judge Refaat, and this is the responsibility of the Attorney General.

I completely understand the Interior Ministry’s efforts and its loyalty to the country as it makes a huge effort to eliminate bad elements from among us and now is the time for change.

I understand the stance of the opposition, but what I do not understand is its cooperation with those who attack the revolution. There are hundreds of thousands of revolutionaries with integrity who did not get a chance for participation, so they felt more depressed because of the slow improvement in the interior situation.

The revolution will stay alive, achieve its goals through elections and does not give a mandate to anyone, even the president; rather it is the constitutional legitimacy that we all abide by.

I have faced a war attempting to make me fail since I assumed my responsibility.

What we have achieved:

Social Justice: Despite massive strain left by the previous regime, with 20 million under the poverty line, 3.5 million unemployed citizens, and huge income disparity, studies have shown that only 32 families were controlling the Egyptian economy.

We have increased the salaries and incomes of around 1.9 million employees who benefited from the first phase of minimum wage increases to reach 700 EGP. 1.2 million teachers as part of the special cadre, 750 thousand administrative officers, 58 thousand preachers and Imams and 150 thousand faculty members have seen increases in their salaries. We have made a disbursement of a 15 percent bonus for employees and retirees, for 1 million and 9 hundred employees covering 9 billion EGP. In two years from 2011 to 2013, increases in wages have equaled the increases in the sixty years before that.  We are working on supporting low-income individuals for state-funded medical treatment. Starting in July 2013, social pensions will increase to 400 EGP. We have also improved the system of ration cards used by 67 million citizens. I admit that prices have gone up but we are doing all we can to confront this and we have subsidized twenty commodities.

490,000 women have benefited from the medical insurance for female breadwinners and will benefit from 400 EGP social pensions starting July 2013. 13 million children have benefited from pre-school medical insurance. 593,000 part time workers have become full time. And we have instituted total debt forgiveness for 52,000 small farmers with debts under 10,000 EGP.

We have increased education and health allocations, but these steps are not nearly enough.

Economy: Under the previous regime, Egypt’s foreign debt increased to 50 and 77 billion USD.

The size of the internal and external debt on Egypt in July 2012 reached 212 billion USD as a result of the budget deficit transferred from a ruler to another. Is it logical for the problems of this budget to be solved in one year? Is it logical to sell Egyptians gas for 2 USD per unit while importing it for 12 USD per unit?

We received public business sector companies in 2012 with 48 billion EGP loss and debts of 70 billion EGP.

Energy: Under the subsidy system inherited from the former regime, the rich were benefitting more than the poor, and there was a loss of 12 billion EGP. There is no justification at all for what is happening now, and I have apologized for what is happening on the street now, and we have started to subsidize energy so that the price of a cooking gas cylinder has dropped from 120 EGP, as we have seen. We have provided 74 billion EGP to provide petroleum products. The gasoline and diesel problems are well known to all, the result of smugglers, and we have put in place a system to combat this corruption so that whoever has a card can go and take as much gasoline as he pleases.

Tourism: How could tourists possibly come to a country where there are roadblocks, Molotov cocktails and satellite channels broadcast pictures of this? Where the media broadcast clashes between protestors and the police in front of the Semiramis and the Prime Minister finds people stealing computers and they are arrested only to be let go?

I thank the outgoing governor of Luxor governorate; he is not tainted and yet he gave up his position for the sake of tourism.

The number of tourists this year has increased by one million, and as stability increases so will tourism.

Egypt does not bow to pressure. Remnants of the former regime sold everything in the country while they were in power. It won’t be possible to get rid of the sickness of the former regime that squandered so much. But the presidency of Egypt’s revolution will adhere to the law and constitution, and will cut off the hand of anyone who tries to take an inch of its water or sand.

But the great economic breakthrough is contingent on bolstering state institutions and achieving stability, without which there will not be development. Stability is threatened by the calls for demonstrations which have created losses equal to 15 billion USD. If the losses were reduced we wouldn’t need the IMF loan yet the Treasury incurred significant losses this week due to the calls for and rumors of protests.

We have succeeded in writing a modern constitution we can be proud of, even if a few of its articles ought to be amended but now we have ended the stage of overlapping constitutional campaigns—and of course the constitution isn’t the Qur’an as it may be amended by law. But this constitution which some have opposed is what now protects the nation and guarantees the very freedoms some abuse now. It is also what protects the media, to whom I promised a policy of no prison-time for journalists, only waived in cases of personal insult.

Civilians imprisoned under military sentences have been released, and I have given them a blanket amnesty for their full sentences so that today political prisoners do not exist in Egypt—not a single political prisoner. 

Martyrs’ Rights:  We have formed a fact-finding committee, sent its report to the court, and retried cases in expectation of fair rulings this time. Why didn’t the Interior Minister include the former Attorney General who was responsible for the “Battle of the Camels” case? They are calling now for his return because he withheld or obscured important facts about the case. Martyrs’ blood is in my consciousness and we have provided compensation and work opportunities to the families of martyrs and the wounded.

And I issue a stern warning to Ahmed Bahgat [Dream TV owner] and Mohamed al-Amin [CBC owner]: they owe debts and back taxes but instead of paying them they stir up trouble on their TV channels. No one should think that they are able to escape justice.

We face attempts to change our will and decisions and intrusion from external powers to force decisions and halt policies, such as the IMF loan, which is not charity but a right for Egypt.

I have moved to make arrangements with Egyptian institutions to reestablish relations that were suspended and ignored by the previous regime with other countries including those in the Nile basin.

The ongoing protests and violence hinder development. There are 1,770 sit-ins and thirty-seven protests every day, with some of them involving violence, roadblocks and loss of life. How is it possible to work in this environment? What is most threatening is the spread of violent acts that do not belong to Egyptian society such as roadblocks. I fully admit that we are facing difficulties and that the police are facing difficulties from various sectors due to how the institution was abused by the previous regime, but we will train the police force to work solely in the service of the people.

There some policies that contradict each other such as the fact-finding commission report and the sentences of some policemen. Despite that, we appreciate efforts by the police to do their job in such difficult circumstances. We will definitely succeed but we must be patient.  Police performance has improved but there are still singular abuses that we plan to deal with through the law. We must also never forget the eighty-five police force martyrs.

After this accounting, I present my vision for the future:

  1. Faster reform and change of state institutions. We need an upcoming parliament and new legislation to achieve progress in all fields and I announce that parliamentary elections will be held soon in order to complete our institutions and for Egypt to have its full state leadership in place.
  2. Working with the increasingly youthful political street to implement society’s efforts as a whole. The street has become more politicized after the revolution and to exclude some would be a gift to the previous regime.
  3. Creating 1 million three hundred thousand employment opportunities for youth through large projects.
  4. Empowering the youth to open new horizons to address what went wrong in our experience and integrate with the youth of the revolution to achieve our goal of empowering youth without finding a mechanism for this. Currently, 1 million young men are being trained in the Ministry of Youth.

I have therefore decided to:

  1. Assign the Minister of Interior to create a special unit to combat thuggery and bullying of citizens.
  2. Establish an independent committee for receiving constitutional amendments from all political parties and powers. All of them are invited for a meeting with me after choosing a representative.
  3. Establish a Supreme Committee for National Reconciliation that includes representatives for all elements of society, including parties, al-Azhar, the church, youth, and national societies in order to determine the procedures that can achieve true reconciliation and agreement between national institutions for the benefit of the country.
  4. Order ministers and governors to immediately fire the troublemakers responsible for what citizens have been suffering from for a week now. One year is enough for the remnants of the previous regime who cause crises for citizens in all services.
  5. Revoke the licenses of all gas stations that refuse to receive or distribute [petroleum] products.
  6. Assign the Ministry of Supply to take receivership of filling stations who refuse to work in coordination with their administration.
  7. Oblige governors to appoint youth assistants, not older than forty years old, starting four weeks from now.

And I say that even if adherents of the previous regime have been released from jail, we will not go easy on them

Now allow me to direct a number of messages to:

The People: I am distressed at the icy relations during our visits and official meetings. I am aware of the inherited fear of the Islamic boogieman stoked by the previous regime and I depend on the intelligence of the Egyptian people for our interactions to return to how they were for many centuries.

To the Brave Armed Forces: The Armed Forces have been and will always be the protecting shield for Egypt and have the respect of the people for protecting the institutions and the revolution’s achievements. After that, it plays it role of protecting the borders. We have succeeded in establishing successful military-civil relations. As for the rumors about the president’s relation with the army aiming to drive a wedge between the institutions of the country, I say that there is someone who desires unhealthy relations between us. The agreed upon facts are that the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces and that the country’s institutions, including the armed forces, are working in complete harmony as long as each plays its assigned role according to the constitution.

We will cut off the invisible fingers that work to hinder good relations. I voice my appreciation and gratitude to all members of the armed forces for what they did during the revolution and for what they are doing now to develop the institution. The armed forces are now acting as an aid to the police and the Interior Ministry, which is keeping them from doing their own job. To those who undermine Egypt and its leadership, I say: You will not succeed in your attempt to involve Egypt with the aim of obstructing its action or alienating it from the scene. I say: Go back to your caves; your work is not welcome here. I vow by the law that I cannot overrule that you will be punished for the crimes you are committing against the country.

To the Interior Ministry: No person, except an ingrate, could deny the role you play in the nation. We feel the crisis you are facing and the role that you been historically obligated to fill, which is to guarantee the security of citizens and preserve institutions. We will not fall short in developing state institutions so that your only obligation becomes to fulfill your duties. 

To the Judiciary: The involvement of some judges in politics has confused both the judiciary and the political circles. Judges appearing as politicians is considered by Egyptian judicial norms to violate the esteem of the judiciary. The involvement of laws and the judiciary has harmed both institutions due to the constant participation in the political decision making process, which is a process unrelated to the role of the judiciary. I realize that the judiciary is an institution that crowns the Egyptian State. We hold no animosity towards you. On the contrary, we know that protecting the judiciary is our main responsibility. I will seek to support an environment of confidence between the powers as well as any change that will fulfill the desires of judges. There will be no legal link between the legislative and the judicial powers as per the constitution.

I ask the Constitutional Court to respond quickly to the electoral law until the High Elections Commission is able to call for elections. Our respect for judicial decisions has kept us from calling for the elections to be held on time.

To the Opposition: We appreciate the constructive role of an opposition that criticizes but also builds. However, and in all honesty, I was expecting that other forces would take the example of a constructive opposition that acknowledges the importance of the political role it plays. I was surprised to see the opposition quickly give up at the first difference in opinion and resorting to insults, stubbornness and degrading adjectives instead of dialogue. Is democracy the imposition of one opinion? Is it doubting electoral processes? Is it the destruction of elected institutions; the imposition of conditions for any dialogue; the refusal to participate in any political positions; or throwing accusations of take-over, domination and Brotherhoodization? Why do they speak of my responsibility as a governing authority when they demand the execution of decisions without asking about my authority? Whoever wants to be part of the opposition should take a participatory role and form a parliamentary majority rather than destroy. It is clear why you do not want to walk down the path of change. We are reaching out to you and we are ready for immediate dialogue.

To the Media: We are still waiting to see the media fulfill its role of raising awareness amongst the people. Stop spreading rumors, adversity and hate speech. We cannot stay silent in the face of lies, adversity and traps broadcasted on television. This is not Egypt. However, I would like to note that I am not accusing everyone in the media.

To the Remnants of the Old Regime: The revolution started to get rid of the dictatorship and corruption that you once played a big part in. In post revolution Egypt, you have tried to turn a new page in which you are patriotic and dignified. You hired people to terrorize citizens in the streets and you collaborated with foreign enemies. You used the weak hearted and those of narrow vision in state institutions as your tools.

To Thugs: Either we achieve absolute justice and open a new page or you stop your actions. In the latter case, an agreement could be reached between us and your previous actions will be forgiven unless you have committed a crime. Besides that the only other option is prison. Choose your place you corrupt individuals.

To Protesters: I urge you to keep demonstrations peaceful and to protest in the aim of criticizing the governing authority and not in the aim of creating chaos. Beware of being drawn into violence because demonstrations are a means to express your opinions and not a tool to impose those opinions.

To everyone: If your choice is to peacefully protest then the interest of the country comes before everyone else’s interest. The interest of the country comes before all. The measures you see taken to preserve the institutions are directions for which the president of the state is mainly responsible, in addition to the head of the police and the commander of the armed forces. Egyptian blood is a red line, be it that of the opposition or of the supporters of the government.

To the Youth: Young people of Egypt, you are the pride of this nation. I admit that you have not been given the rights you deserve in this post revolution phase. I forgive you and I apologize to you. You will have your rights. I understand your needs and I am doing my best to create new opportunities for you.

To the People: Participate and be productive to build a better tomorrow for our children. Use the card to buy gasoline. We will be patient together a bit longer. Do not accept any neglect or inaction. We will be patient as our country slowly improves. There is hope in tomorrow. Participate in the political process and don’t listen to those who would delay it. Improve your relations with the security forces. And let me just say long live free Egypt, long live her great people with freedom and dignity and may God keep away all those who want to harm us.

Responsibility mandates that I be honest in achieving the interests of the country.  There are no spoils in responsibility and no personal interests. However there is a strong will and enthusiasm to take up this responsibility.