The Washington Times on June 24, 2012, reported that Egyptians celebrated the election of their country’s first freely elected president – Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who becomes the first Islamist head of state of the Arab world’s most populous nation. Excerpts below:

Spontaneous displays of jubilation erupted throughout the capital, Cairo, after Egypt’s election commission announced that Mr. Morsi had defeated Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister before longtime President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year.

Commission Chairman Farouk Sultan announced in Cairo that Mr. Morsi won 51.7 percent of the vote and Mr. Shafiq 48.3 percent in the June 16-17 runoff election that followed last month’s presidential balloting.

Mr. Morsi assumes a post that has been largely stripped of authority by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military panel that has been ruling Egypt since Mr. Mubarak was forced to resign amid Arab Spring protests.

Uncertainty over the Brotherhood’s intentions, especially how it will handle relations with the U.S. and Israel, has created unease in both countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jewish state “appreciates the democratic process in Egypt and respects its outcome.”

Mr. Morsi, who received a doctoral degree in engineering from the University of Southern California and has two children who were born in the United States, has criticized Egypt’s relationship with the U.S.

Brotherhood leaders…have spoken in favor of dissolving Egypt’s 33-year-old peace treaty with Israel.

The election polarized Egyptians, who worried about Mr. Morsi’s Islamist credentials and saw Mr. Shafiq as an extension of the Mubarak regime.

The Muslim Brotherhood had been banned in Egypt since 1954, but its candidates participated in elections as independents.

Earlier this month, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the Islamist-dominated parliament must be dissolved because a third of its members had been elected illegally.

In a separate decision, the court rejected a law enacted by the parliament that prohibited former senior members of the Mubarak regime from running for office. That ruling paved the way for Mr. Shafiq to challenge Mr. Morsi.

In addition, the military gave itself powers that curbed the president’s authority and put the generals in charge of overseeing the writing of Egypt’s new constitution.

It also reinstated an emergency law that expanded police powers and suspended constitutional rights.


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