Tuesday, July 2, 2013
CAIRO — President Mohamed Morsi was under growing pressure Tuesday to offer political concessions, facing a Wednesday deadline set by Egypt’s powerful military, a phone call from President Obama urging him to be responsive and an announcement by the Islamist Nour party that it supports both the army’s threat of intervention and a call by protesters for early elections.
Addressing the nation in a televised speech late Tuesday, Morsi acknowledged that he had made mistakes during his year in office as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. But he appealed to Egyptians to give him more time to deal with the country’s problems.
In a defiant Twitter message before the speech, Morsi responded to the military’s ultimatum by saying he would not step down and that he would stick to “constitutional legitimacy.” He called on the military to withdraw its ultimatum.
Earlier, Morsi’s office had issued a vaguely worded statement, saying that the president would continue to walk the “path that was outlined,” regardless of “any statements that could deepen the divisions between the sons of the nation, and could threaten social peace.”
That initial missive, issued just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, did not respond directly to the ultimatum issued by Egypt’s military on Monday, after a weekend in which millions of anti-government protesters called for Morsi’s ouster in the largest show of opposition to the president since he took office one year ago.
“The country is heading toward a clash and a civil war,” said Salah Abdel Maboud, a spokesman for the Nour party, which won the second-largest bloc of seats in parliamentary elections last year.
The commander of Egypt’s armed forces,Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, told the government and opposition groups in a televised statement that the military would step in within 48 hours if they could not resolve the standoff that has paralyzed the country and led to a number of deaths in recent days.
The statement did not make clear whether commanders want Morsi to step down or share power, and it did not specify the kind of role the armed forces would assume if the stalemate continued. Instead, Sissi pledged to impose a “road map” toward a solution if the conflict persists, leaving considerable room for interpretation.
“If the demands of the people are not met within the given period of time, [the military] will be compelled by its national and historic responsibilities, and in respect for the demands of Egypt’s great people, to announce a road map for the future, and procedures that it will supervise involving the participation of all the factions and groups,” Sissi said, calling the coming two days a “last chance.”
The warning was widely interpreted as a threat to stage a coup, stoking fears of a violent backlash from Morsi backers and signaling a dark turn in Egypt’s volatile struggle to navigate a path to stable democracy since a popular revolution in 2011 ended 60 years of authoritarian rule. Angry crowds of Morsi supporters swelled in Cairo after the military’s statement, and clashes erupted between the president’s supporters and opponents in several cities.
Parlez-vous polite? Paris manual teaches how to not be rude to tourists
Dana McMahanNBC News contributor
8 hours ago
As the saying goes, Paris would be great, if it weren't for the French. Now, in an effort to improve tourism in a down economy, the city is distributing pamphlets to local businesses teaching them how to not be so famously rude to visitors.
Aimed at improving relations between the 80,000 visitors a day and front line workers like taxi drivers, servers, hoteliers, museum staffers, and merchants, “Do You Speak Touriste?” provides colorful cheat sheets aimed at helping Parisians shed their snooty image. The city's tourism board is passing out the six-page guide directly to service personnel, and also has an accompanying website.
"I think they know it's desperate," Elaine Sciolino, a New York Times writer in Paris told TODAY, “I mean the economy is really hurting, and unemployment is at ten percent. Foreign investment is way down, so you've got to keep tourism up.”
For instance, to understand Americans, the guide says, locals should know they demand WiFi, enjoy high-end hotels, and prefer to have dinner at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, Germans want to converse in German. Spanish like amusement parks. Feeling uncertain about navigating an unknown city, the Japanese need to be reassured. And the guide describes the Chinese as "fervent shoppers," gently reminding readers that "a simple smile and hello in their language will fully satisfy them."
The pamphlet provides tips for 11 different nationalities in total.
But not everyone feels they need the new handbook. Chef Francois Pasteau of L'Epi Dupin has insisted his staff speak English, among other languages, for the last 18 years.
“Why you have to be rude with customers??” Pasteau told TODAY. “No! You have to be nice, with everybody!" With tourists lining up to dine at his bistro, the attitude seems to be working.
Though the guidebook endeavor launched last month, it's not the first effort Paris has made to make itself more approachable. "Meeting the French," a program born in 2005, offers travelers the chance to meet “real Parisians” – at work or at home, over dinner in a local family's apartment.
Dana McMahan / for NBC News
Similarly, the free "Parisien d'Un Jour" (Paris Greeters) program has since 2008 paired visitors with local volunteers who love to share their city. Travelers register online ahead of their visit – noting interests like food, architecture, flea markets, history – and the program matches them up with a local enthusiastic about the topic.
Alain Sauvage, 67, has led Paris Greeters strolls in his Grenelle neighborhood in the 15th arrondisement of Paris since 2009. “I know that we have a very bad reputation,” he said. “The reason of doing this is to give to the visitor a good impression of the Parisian.”
Sauvage traveled the world before retiring from IBM. “You can visit monuments, museums, but the good thing is to have contact with someone who lives there," he said, "and that is something we need to do more and more in Paris.”
Along with the other 300 volunteer guides, Sauvage does his part. “I had this feeling that the people who are coming to Paris need to be a little bit more accepted as friends by Parisians,” he said.
Thankfully, it looks like there's at least one Parisian out there who doesn't need