Egypt’s Second Revolution


Protests are still simmering and five ministers have resigned from Morsi’s cabinet. This morning, the Egyptian military offered (NYT) Morsi a 48-hour ultimatum to effectively respond to the demonstrations, turning this into a military coup in the eyes of some:

In a statement read on state television, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian military, said the mass demonstrations that intensified over the weekend, including the storming of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo early Monday, reflected an “unprecedented” expression of popular anger at Mr. Morsi and his Islamist backers in the brotherhood during his first year in power.

It was unclear from the general’s statement whether the military was specifically demanding that Mr. Morsi resign. But the statement said that if Mr. Morsi did not take steps to address demands for a more inclusive government, the armed forces would move to impose their “own road map for the future.”

Reuters reports seven dead and over 600 wounded so far. Issandr El Amrani explains how Morsi became so hated over the past year:

[H]is November 27, 2012, constitutional declaration was probably illegal and ended any benefit of the doubt the opposition was ready to give to him. The rushing of the constitution was likewise a slap in the face that created the opportunity of the current moment, with revolutionaries, liberals and old regime members temporarily collaborating against what they perceive as the greater evil of the Muslim Brotherhood. And he has made at least one disastrous decision, in the context of last December’s crisis, that has significantly worsened the economic outlook of the country by postponing reforms that had been planned as part of the IMF rescue package. I do not think it is fair, however, to blame Morsi for the more general economic situation (he inherited massive debt, an electricity crisis, a subsidies crisis, etc.) but it is true that save from raising loans from Qatar and elsewhere he has done little to stem it — and indeed his profligate spending on civil service salaries has worsened things to some extent.

Juan Cole emphasizes that much “of the protest is economic”:

Morsi’s government has pursued austerity policies and it has failed to revive tourism or attract substantial productive investment. Egypt’s foreign currency reserves have been cut in half, causing the Egyptian pound to fall in value, and hurting Egyptians, who depend on imported food and fuel. The textile workers of al-Mahalla al-Kubra, whose 2006-2008 strikes were a rallying cry for anti-Mubarak activists, have warned that under Morsi their factories are threatened with closure altogether. Although some of the animus against Morsi comes from liberals and secularists annoyed by his religious fundamentalism, many of the protesters on Sunday were devout Muslims who just object to Morsi’s high-handed style of governing, failed economic policies, and favoritism toward his Muslim Brotherhood base. One banner in Tahrir said, ‘we are for Islam, against the Muslim Brotherhood.’

Laura Dean reports from Cairo:

I spoke with Amani Sayed, 43, who wore a full face veil, about why she had decided to come out. Holding a piece of cardboard over her head to shield herself from the sun, she told me she had been in the square since ten thirty in the morning. This at around five in the afternoon. When asked why she was there, she was adamant: “He has divided us.”

“Christians from Muslims!” her friend interjected.

“And Muslims from Muslims,” said Amani. “We are munaqabat [wear face veils], muhagabat [wear hijabs], unveiled. Egyptians are liberals, secular, conservative. We’re all Egyptian.”

And Jonathan Guyer provides a slideshow of political cartoons skewering Morsi:

Morsi is drawn as a cowboy, as Godzilla attacking Cairo’s skyline, and, of course, as a pharaoh. He is a cleric in Muslim Brotherhood regalia. He sends a Tweet from his cell phone to the Egyptian people, as he sits on the toilet, pants dropped. He orders carryout: “I’d like the revolutionary platter…and hold the opposition.”

(Photo: Egyptians hold a plaque of the Muslim Brotherhood emblem which was removed from the party’s burnt headquarters in the Moqattam district of Cairo on July 1, 2013 after it was set ablaze by opposition demonstrators overnight. By Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)