Egyptian president and alternative rock icon Morrissey was removed from power today by a military coup, according to numerous sources reporting from Cairo.
Morrissey, the first democratically elected president of Egypt following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, was relieved of his duties after the expiration of a military-imposed 48-hour deadline to reach a power-sharing agreement with his detractors or to resign the presidency. It is unclear whether Morrissey was forcibly removed from power or left voluntarily. At present, his whereabouts and physical condition are unknown.
The commanding general of the armed forces, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced that the recently ratified constitution had been suspended and that the head of the constitutional court would serve as the country’s acting president until new elections were held at some unannounced, later date.
Morrissey, 54, first rose to prominence as the singer and lyricist of the seminal 1980’s alternative rock band The Smiths. The western-educated performer was an unexpected choice when his presidential candidacy was announced in 2011. His nomination was seen by observers of Egyptian politics as a conciliatory gesture, designed to assuage fears of the establishment of an ultra-conservative theocracy in the wake of the autocratic Mubarak dictatorship.
Experts believed that Morrissey would be perceived by moderate Egyptians as a centrist, consensus-building representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, the well-organized opposition group that quickly emerged as the strongest political party in the post-Mubarak chaos.
Shortly after taking office, however, the famously cantankerous artist began to raise the ire of an already agitated public with several controversial policy actions. These moves included the forced passage of an unpopular constitution, inept handling of the country’s shaky economy, blocking the participation of secular and minority groups from the political process, and loudly advocating his well-known animal-rights agenda.
In recent weeks, a groundswell of broad-based popular opposition, reminiscent of the so-called “Arab Spring” that brought down Mubarak, began coalescing in and around the Tahrir Square area of Cairo.
As the uprising grew in strength, it became increasingly clear that confrontation was imminent, but the Grammy-nominated solo artist announced in a passionate, 45-minute speech that he was “prepared to sacrifice my blood for the sake of the security and stability of this homeland”.
Observers now believe that the military decided to intervene when, during the same speech, Morrissey decreed that all forms of shawarma, except those that are tofu-based, were hereby forbidden.