As millions of Egyptians watched on television the country’s first Islamist
president, Dr. Mohamed Mursi, was sworn in on Saturday, taking the oath
of office before 18 judges of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
election as the fifth head of state since officers overthrew King Farouk in 1952
brings to an end 60 years of military rule.
Egypt’s national anthem
sounded at the beginning of the ceremony, which was broadcast live on state
After taking the oath, in which Mursi promised before God to “uphold
the republic, to respect the constitution and the law, and fully safeguard the
people’s interests, [the nation’s] independence and territorial integrity,” the
new president said that “today, the people of Egypt laid the foundations for a
“Egypt is now a civil, national and modern state,” he
Although according to custom Egyptian presidents are sworn in
before parliament, Mursi took the oath of office before the SCC, Egypt’s highest
judicial authority, following a June 17 decision by Egypt’s ruling military
junta, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), to dissolve the Muslim
Brotherhood-dominated lower house.
Judge Farouk Sultan, the SCC chairman,
congratulated Mursi on his presidency before calling on him to take the oath,
citing the June 17 constitutional declaration.
After being sworn in,
Mursi said he saluted the court, dubbing it an “institution that I will ensure
remains independent and strong.” His decision to be sworn-in before the SCC –
announced only late on Thursday – caused controversy.
Brotherhood previously said it rejected the SCAF’s decree to dissolve parliament
as well as its June 17 issuing of a supplementary constitutional
Following Mursi’s victory in a runoff election, the Egyptian
press speculated that he would likely refuse to take the oath of office in front
of the SCC – as decreed in the supplementary constitutional declaration –
because to do so would indicate that he accepted both the declaration and the
ruling to dissolve parliament.
On Friday, some revolutionary youth
movements condemned his decision to agree to be sworn in before the court, which
they said implied recognition of the SCAF’s controversial decrees.
group calling itself the Second Revolution of Rage, which advocates a
“democratic, civil state that extends to all political and civil forces with
full respect for their religious beliefs,” announced on its Facebook page Friday
that it did not recognize Mursi as president because of his decision to be sworn
in before the court.
After attending Friday prayers at Cairo’s al-Azhar
Mosque, Mursi went to the city’s Tahrir Square and read out the oath of office
in a symbolic gesture to the crowds. He vowed he would represent all Egyptians –
Christians and Muslims alike – and said the revolution would continue until it
achieved all its goals.
After the short swearing-in ceremony on Saturday,
Mursi went to Cairo University, where he delivered his first speech as
president. The speech was attended by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi,
head of the SCAF.
In an address that began “Allah is greatest,” Mursi
said Egypt would continue on its democratic path.
Outside the university,
protesters called for Tantawi’s execution, the Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm
Mursi also reiterated his support for the Palestinians, saying
that Egypt would “stand by” them until they “regained all their
However, he added that the country would also stand by its
Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979,
bringing to an end three decades of conflict. Following Mursi’s runoff victory,
speculation mounted as to whether he would honor the treaty.
president also called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria.
speech, Mursi attended a military parade at the Hike Step military base near
Cairo. In attendance were Tantawi and other SCAF members.