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Military Coup or Street Elections? Egypt’s Crisis 2013

Phil Johnson, Ph.D, July 6, 2013

Global Next Research Group and Leadership Institute

(All photos taken by Phil Johnson in Cairo from June 30-July 3, 2013)

One year after Egypt’s first free democratic elections, President Mohamed Morsi has been forced to step down. Depending on who you talk with, the president’s ouster was the result of a military coup or it was the decision of the masses who decided that they didn’t like the direction of their country and took to the streets for a “snap election” of sorts.

Here’s a concise update on the situation:

June 30: Massive demonstrations across Egypt (the largest protests in Egypt’s history) called for President Morsi to step down. Reasons for public dissatisfaction included the free-falling economy, frequent power outages, Morsi’s abuse of power, the crafting of an Islamist-leaning constitution, lack of protection for the rights of women and minorities and failure to create an inclusive government.

July 3rd: The Egyptian military announced that Morsi’s presidency was over and that the constitution would be suspended.

July 4th: The military appointed Chief Justice of the constitutional court, Adli Mansour, as interim president. The military stated that new presidential elections would be held and a new constitution created.

July 5th: A coalition of conservative groups, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, have promised to protect the legitimacy of Morsi’s presidency - the result has been increased violence. On Friday, July 5th, more than 30 were killed in clashes between supporters and opposition groups. More than 1000 were wounded. (Al Jezeera English)

July 6th: Gunmen killed a Coptic Christian priest in the increasingly difficult to control Sinai peninsula. According to security sources, he was dragged from his car and riddled with bullets. This could be the first sectarian attack since Morsi was forced from office. Coptic Pope Tawadros, leader of Egypt’s Christian minority, has come under fire for his support of the removal of Morsi.

Those who support Morsi’s presidency state that Morsi was democratically elected and that he is the legitimate leader of Egypt. The people made their choice and if they want a new choice, then they need to wait three more years for a new presidential election. Therefore, the action of the army to take over is viewed as a military coup in direct opposition to the principles of democracy. Supporters also site the unwillingness of the opposition to accept key positions in the government and to participate in the democratic process. Morsi stated in a speech on July 2nd, that he would defend his presidency with his life, if necessary. He is now under house arrest.

The Egyptian opposition to Morsi’s presidency (The Tamarod movement, among others) views the action of the military to remove Morsi as a response to the will of the people - NOT a coup. After all, it’s hard to ignore the largest protest movement in Egypt’s history - and according to some sources, the largest protest movement in the history of the world. Those opposed to Morsi’s rule say that they and the military are one- and that the military is acting on behalf of the best interest of Egypt.

In the midst of this new chapter in Egyptian self- determination, there is also a visible rise in anti-Obama and anti-American sentiment. Many of those who opposed Morsi’s presidency and the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood accuse US President Obama of supporting the Brotherhood’s regime and supporting terrorism. Arguments can be made that Obama is supporting democracy - in any form, but that argument doesn’t hold water with those who feel that the US administration is siding with the Muslim

Brotherhood and its agenda. The resounding cry is simply, “Leave Egypt alone and stop supporting terrorists.” They are quick to remind the world that the Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of Hamas and al Qaeda and has produced the likes of Osama bin Laden and Ayman

Zawahari. So, they ask, why exactly is Obama supporting this organization?

Al-Qaeda is now offering to rescue the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt by sending in fighters. And according to Al Jazeera English, “A new Islamist group has also announced its formation in Egypt, calling the army's ousting of Morsi a declaration of war on its faith and threatening to use violence to impose Islamic law. Ansar al-Shariah in Egypt said it would gather arms and start training its members, in a statement posted on an online forum for fighters in the country's Sinai region on Friday.”

In the end, Egyptians are continuing to take their fate into their own hands. While it’s unlikely that Morsi will regain the presidency, the conflict is far from over. Will more blood be shed? Unfortunately, yes. Will some groups become more radicalized? Probably. But as of now, tens of millions of Egyptians decided, after a year of Morsi’s rule, that they didn’t want their country to go in the direction of the Brotherhood and Sharia law.


Millions of thinking Muslims and Christians decided that they want to participate in a civilized, pluralistic society that allows for freedom of speech, thinking and religion - and that they will not become victims of


radicalism in any form. Maybe that’s the real story.


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