News / Middle East

Does Egypt Face a New Revolution?

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi hold up documents from the "Tamarud" campaign during a news conference at their headquarters in Cairo, May 29, 2013.
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi hold up documents from the "Tamarud" campaign during a news conference at their headquarters in Cairo, May 29, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Millions hope so, it seems; they have signed a national petition demanding the president resign and plan to take to the streets on June 30, when Mohamed Morsi marks a year in office.
 
Their slogan is a call for revolt: “Tamarud - Rebel!”
 
But for all the simmering discontent with the Islamist who has presided over political and economic paralysis, millions more are ready to defend Egypt's first freely elected leader; they say those campaigning for him to quit are agents of the old regime and plan their own pro-Morsi rallies starting Friday.
 
A man signs a form for the pro-Morsi Tagarod (impartiality) campaign in Amr Bin Aaas mosque in Cairo, June 14, 2013. The campaign was started in response to counter the Tamarod (rebellion) petition started by anti-Morsi supporters to withdraw confidence in the president.A man signs a form for the pro-Morsi Tagarod (impartiality) campaign in Amr Bin Aaas mosque in Cairo, June 14, 2013. The campaign was started in response to counter the Tamarod (rebellion) petition started by anti-Morsi supporters to withdraw confidence in the president.
x
A man signs a form for the pro-Morsi Tagarod (impartiality) campaign in Amr Bin Aaas mosque in Cairo, June 14, 2013. The campaign was started in response to counter the Tamarod (rebellion) petition started by anti-Morsi supporters to withdraw confidence in the president.
A man signs a form for the pro-Morsi Tagarod (impartiality) campaign in Amr Bin Aaas mosque in Cairo, June 14, 2013. The campaign was started in response to counter the Tamarod (rebellion) petition started by anti-Morsi supporters to withdraw confidence in the president.
Their counter-campaign - “Tagarud” - calls for open minds.
 
There is a risk of more of the violence that has punctuated the two-and-a-half years since Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a blast of rage from Tahrir Square. “June 30” crops up endlessly in conversation. The Cairo bourse has shriveled in anticipation and security forces say they are preparing to deal with trouble.
 
“There is a strong chance of violence resulting from the coming protests,” said retired Egyptian general Sameh Seif al-Yazal, a military analyst. “It could start from any side.”
 
It is unclear what can end stalemate between the Islamists, whose organized electoral base has handed them the formal levers of power, and a diffuse opposition of liberals, Christians and secular conservatives united in fear of Islamic rule, plus a mass of the uncommitted fed up with economic drift under Morsi.
 
The “culture war” between elected Islamists and a secular opposition, with a once-political army in the background, has echoes of today's unrest in Turkey, but deep economic crisis and a still unformed political system makes Egypt much more fragile.
 
With world powers at odds over Syria, where Morsi has backed the Sunni Muslim revolt, and Washington funding an Egyptian army that honors Cairo's peace treaty with Israel, any instability in the most populous Arab state has implications far beyond.
 
The wealthy generals, once led by Mubarak but who sacrificed him to save themselves, have said they want no more political role. Islamists say it would mean civil war if the troops moved against them. Yet the army is still held in high regard by the vast majority and says it will intervene to maintain order.
 
However June 30 ends - and few will bet with confidence on the outcome - it will help determine whether the Arab Spring eventually blossoms, or withers - not just for 84 million Egyptians but for would-be democracies across the Middle East.
 
Unfinished Revolution

“This revolution is not over yet,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, a former top U.N. diplomat and one of the best known faces of Tamarud, whose keen young sidewalk volunteers say their petition is close to gathering more signatures for Morsi's - hypothetical - removal than the 13 million votes that elected him a year ago.
 
ElBaradei spoke at a two-week-old sit-in by artists at the Culture Ministry. It was prompted by the new minister firing the head of Cairo Opera and by fears of a new puritanism after an Islamist lawmaker called for a ban on ballet as “naked art”.
 
Such threats capture media headlines and ElBaradei said Islamist dominance must be stopped: “We ask every Egyptian to go out on the 30th, to free ourselves and reclaim our revolution.”
 
For the millions of poor, for whom the ballet ranks low on their priorities, it is an economy caught in a vice of collapsed tourist income, rising world commodity prices and a growing population dependent on subsidized bread and fuel that matters.
 
“We don't want Morsi. We want change,” said Umm Sultan, working with her son at the family juice stall in Cairo's Old City. “They must give us money so our children can live.”
 
Echoing fellow Islamists governing in Turkey, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood insists he has a democratic mandate and warn that protest is permitted - “a healthy sign that this revolution has actually worked”, one aide called it - but must be peaceful.
 
Morsi himself says he will react “fiercely” to trouble from “felloul” - 'remnants' of Mubarak - and calls the petition, which has no legal weight, “an absurd and illegitimate action”.
 
There have been scuffles this month between groups gathering signatures; an apartment used by Tamarud was firebombed. A new test looms this Friday, when Islamists plan pro-Morsi rallies.
 
The heart of the problem is a failure to build consensus.
 
Protesters chant anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in Tahrir square, in Cairo. May 17, 2013.Protesters chant anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in Tahrir square, in Cairo. May 17, 2013.
x
Protesters chant anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in Tahrir square, in Cairo. May 17, 2013.
Protesters chant anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in Tahrir square, in Cairo. May 17, 2013.
With opponents in disarray, the Brotherhood and its allies won majorities in both houses of parliament and the presidency last year and rushed a constitution through a referendum. The opposition, partly backed by a judiciary the Islamists see as Mubarak holdovers, now reject most of those state institutions.
 
Elections for a new lower house that might provide a forum for national dialog are being held up by rows over the rules.
 
Anchoring his power in the provinces, Morsi named Islamists to run several governorates on Sunday, including one from a group whose gunmen massacred 58 foreigners in Luxor and will now head the administration in the temple city, a hub for tourism.
 
Deprived of broad popular support, the legislature and the executive have struggled to act decisively on the economy.
 
Islamists Warn Army
 
There seems little prospect the Tamarud petition will induce Morsi to resign - and even some liberal commentators say that might set an unwelcome precedent. Morsi's win seemed fair and a new presidential vote might produce a broadly similar result.
 
No opponent is clearly more popular than the bespectacled, bearded face crossed out with a red “X” on Tamarud's ubiquitous posters. Yet if the protest movement seems like a leap into the unknown, that is not deterring large numbers from joining it.
 
“Tamarud is a representative public reaction to the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi's failure to run the state,” said Hassan Nafaa, a Cairo University political scientist who says Morsi must resign for his “stupidity”. “It has left people no option but the streets and so they will come out - in large numbers.”
 
The president's allies will not give in so easily.
 
“If Morsi ends up being ousted by violence or a coup by the army or police, there will be an Islamic revolution,” said Al-Ghaddafi Abdel Razek, manager of the pro-Morsi Tagarud campaign.
 
“We have our people in the army and the police, too, and we are ready,” added Abdel Razek, 37, a pharmacist once jailed for his membership of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, the militant group that tried to cripple Mubarak by attacking tourists in the 1990s.
 
Tagarud's gathering of seven million signatures urging Morsi to stay is also deeply personal.

“We know that if Morsi goes, we'll all be in prison,” Abdel Razak said.
 
Decision Time
 
Over at the opposition campaign, spokesman Mahmoud Badr is grappling with piles of signatures and ID numbers that need to be verified against databases if Tamarud is to make the case it hopes to the United Nations that its petition is genuine.
 
Even without international intervention, Badr argued, the weight of opinion could embarrass Morsi into stepping aside. Others say that at least it might push him to listen to them.
 
And after that? It may seem hypothetical now, but Badr and his team have a post-Morsi plan: the constitutional court chief would be interim head of state with a small technocrat cabinet.
 
For many, exasperated by power cuts, shortage of fuel and rising prices, a return to army rule would be welcome - though the military insists it wants no such responsibility. Its chief, appointed by Morsi, has urged “a framework for consensus”.
 
One military source told Reuters the army was ready for all eventualities after June 30 - “but we will not interfere unless the situation seems to be heading towards violent conflict”.
 
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said troops will “defend the state and what is sacred to the people” - that, the source said, included their rights to protest.
 
As the rallies approach, Egyptians have decisions to make.
 
Ahmed Mahmoud, 30, a laborer from Alexandria is already in the capital to make his voice heard.

“I want to tell Morsi loud and clear he needs to go since he has failed to meet the demands of our revolution, for a better life and freedom,” he said.“We are tired and cannot take it any more. We want to live.”
 
But others, who fear yet more unrest can only plunge them deeper into poverty, are more patient. Mohamed Ali, 26, a waiter at a Cairo cafe, said Morsi should be given his chance: “We are new to democracy and we should give him time to work and learn.”

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid