By Ahmed Mansour
This year has been hailed as another 2011 regardless of whether you see what happened on June 30 and in the days that followed as a second wave of the revolution, a people’s movement or a military coup. Two things cannot be debated: that by June 30 millions were unhappy with then-President Mohamed Morsi, his government and his Muslim Brotherhood, and that since Morsi’s overthrow thousands have died defending their beliefs and many have been imprisoned for expressing their opinions.
Discontent had been simmering since Morsi’s Constitutional Declaration in late 2012 and when Tamarod began their campaign, millions signed the petitions. June 30 saw huge turnouts on the streets demanding Morsi step down. General Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi, head of the Armed Forces, stepped in warning Morsi to do something about what people were calling “an unqualified government.” The president took to the podium on national TV and declared he was the “legitimate” president and would make no concessions. His removal from office was announced shortly after.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Adly Mansour was sworn in as interim president and the race was on to put together a new Cabinet. There were rumors that Nobel laureate Mohamed El-Baradei would become prime minister, but he was instead appointed adviser to Mansour and Dr. Hazem Al-Beblawi was sworn in as prime minister. On July 16 the first post-Morsi cabinet was sworn in with 34 ministers managing 30 portfolios.
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Interim President Mansour (right) swears in Prime Minister Hazem Al-Beblawi.[/caption]
But while many were glad to see the end of Morsi’s rule, not everyone was happy at the way he was removed from office, decrying the military’s role and declaring it the death of a short-lived democracy. Thousands marched in support of the man they called “the prince of Islam in Egypt.” All eyes turned to Nasr City’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square and Giza’s Nahda Square where pro-Ikhwan and anti-coup protestors gathered to voice their dissatisfaction.
Several incidents of violence and thuggery were reported at the sit-ins and despite calls from authorities on protestors to leave peaceably, demonstrators refused to budge. Meanwhile, El-Baradei spearheaded talks with factions to end the standoff but to no avail and, in the early hours of August 14, police and military forces closed in to evacuate the squares, arresting scores of Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Official figures put the death toll in Cairo at 989, among them 627 casualties at Rabaa. Other reports were much higher, with some estimating that 5,000 Egyptians lost their lives.
The Muslim Brotherhood, having waited anxiously for the past 60 years to reach the presidential office, were not willing to let go of their dreams and allegedly launched coordinated attacks all over the country. Churches and police stations were targeted or burned down, with Upper Egypt seeing much of the violence. Mansour declared a state of emergency, putting in place a strict curfew that many, fearing the firm consequences, abided by.
The violence, however, has not completely receded, with clashes between pro-Morsi protestors and police forces erupting sporadically. At press time marches were organized under the banner “We Are All Rabaa” to commemorate 100 days since the dispersal of the sit-ins. Meanwhile, Mansour has announced an anti-protests law, much to the dismay of rights activists, to regulate demonstrations.