Egypt: what happened to democracy, freedom, stability?

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Egypt: what happened to democracy, freedom, stability?

by Adam Ramsey

2013-07-02-egypt-tahrir-590.jpg

Protest against Morsi in central Cairo (Gigi Ibrahim under a Creative Commons Licence)

The day before Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first civilian President in 2012, he came to Tahrir Square and opened his jacket to show the happy crowd of people that he was wearing no body protection. A ‘man of the people’, he promised them ‘a new life of total freedom, a real democracy, and stability’.

30 June was his one-year anniversary as president. It was not a date of celebration. People were talking about a ‘second revolution’ to remove the ‘illegitimate’ president. Egyptians started to buy lots of food and fuel. They were worried about problems in the coming weeks, maybe months.

On that date many Egyptians came into the streets. No-one knows how many, but it was millions. This was of historic importance. The main opposition groups have come together as a loose group around the ‘Tamarod’ (Rebel) campaign who want a lot more protests.

They are angry at the way Morsi has run the economy badly; angry at his November declaration; and how he cannot make the country secure. So they are asking for Morsi to leave the presidency and have early elections. In two months they got 22 million people to sign (although this number is impossible to check) – 9 million more than the number of people who voted for Morsi in last year’s elections.

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It is unlikely that Morsi will leave the presidency and have early elections, but if he does, there will be a big reaction. A lot of the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, would feel angry. They have suffered a lot of persecution, and they would see this as another example of unfair discrimination.

Many of the anti-Morsi groups do not want to ask for military intervention, but the army has not said it will not intervene. Other people would be happy to see military intervention, because this seems the only way to have early elections.

At the time of writing, at least 10 people have been killed and over 500 injured since 30 June. The deaths were in Cairo and south of Cairo in the cities of Beni Suef and Assiut, but the overall level of violence is much less than many people had thought. There are such a lot of people involved.

For now, the very big numbers of protestors on 30 June has inspired the Tamarod campaign to send President Morsi a demand: resign from the position of President by Tuesday, or face a very big campaign of civil disobedience.

Late on Sunday evening the Presidential spokesperson said that the only solution to the political problems is talking. He invited all the important opposition parties to talk, and said: ‘The presidency wants to bring the country to together’. The problem with this is that people have said no to talks many times in the past.

Then, on 1 July, the head of Egypt’s armed forces, General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, surprised everyone and gave his own 48-hour ultimatum. He chose his words carefully (he didn’t say Morsi had to leave), he said that the many people at the protest showed that the parties must come together to ‘meet the people’s demands’ or face control by the military.

Morsi quickly replied that this would be a coup d’état that would never succeed without the support of the Americans. But, as time passes, it seems that Morsi’s future has crossed a line and cannot now return, and the protesters know this.

Five ministers have now resigned after the protests, including the Foreign Minister. Groups who support Morsi are angry at this and groups who are against Morsi are happy. So now, as each side becomes more desperate, there will probably be more fights.

The next few weeks will be very important for Egypt’s future.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: http://newint.org/blog/2013/07/02/egypt-anniversary-protests/