Some claim the coup against elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was justified because he acted undemocratically. While Morsi did act undemocratically in some ways, this has been greatly exaggerated relating to the new constitution and his decree powers.
The new Interim President is Adly Mansour. Originally appointed a judge by Mubarak, in 2012 he over-turned a ban on former members of Mubarak’s dictatorship standing in elections (1).
He has re-appointed Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud as Chief Prosecutor. Mahmoud was sacked by Morsi’s November 2012 decree for acquitting Mubarak and his security officials of ordering the killing of protesters. (2) – (5).
This may be the start of a counter-revolution following the military coup.
The fact that Morsi’s decree powers were primarily a response to Mubarak’s judiciary and prosecutors blocking the conviction of those who ordered anti-Mubarak protesters killed, along with constitutional reform, by trying to dissolve the elected parliament and assembly, has largely been ignored (6) – (9).
So have Morsi’s many concessions to, and repeated, mostly rejected, offers of negotiations with, the opposition National Salvation Front, which includes parties founded by former MPs from Mubarak’s NDP party and parties which have allied with them or granted them membership.(10) – (19).
The opposition mostly demanded Morsi accede to all its demands, including his resignation, before it would talk, even when, just before the coup, he offered a national coalition government (20) – (22).
Morsi gave up most of his decree powers less than three weeks after assuming them, maintaining only the referendum on the new constitution, the sacking of the Chief Prosecutor ; and the retrial of Mubarak and his officials (24).
The new constitution was drawn up by a constituent assembly elected by the elected Egyptian parliament. The assembly was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the Islamist Nour party because a majority of Egyptians voted for them (25) – (26).
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are certainly not blameless. Brotherhood supporters, acting with their leaders’ approval, tortured confessions from people they suspected of being hired thugs sent to attack them. Though using plain clothes police or hired thugs to attack political opponents was a method used by Mubarak and by unknown forces (the military? Mubarak remnants?) since his overthrow, this doesn’t justify torture (27) – (29).
Islamic parties’ MPs drafted a law to reduce the minimum age of marriage for women to 13 and blamed women protesters for their own rape by mobs. The military are no protectors of women’s rights though, having beaten, stripped , tortured and killed female protesters and carried out “virginity tests” which amounted to sexual assault under military rule (though judges ruled these illegal) (30) – (35).
Protesters saw Morsi as betraying the “bread, freedom and social justice” demands of protesters by rationing publicly subsidised bread and cutting fuel price subsidies in order to secure an IMF loan, possibly in the belief that following Mubarak’s IMF approved economic and welfare policies would ensure US government support, preventing a military coup (36) – (39).
A lack of any attempt to reduce population growth has left Egypt with food and energy shortages which force it to import most of its food. The scandal over the meeting about the Ethiopian dam was similarly linked to impending water shortages (40) – (42).
While condemning Morsi’s economic mismanagement the opposition opposed and got him to reverse increased taxes on cigarettes and alcohol which were conditions for an IMF loan (43)
The secular opposition rightly condemned Morsi’s alliance with extreme Islamists. He appointed a member of the former terrorist group Gaama Islamiya, which carried out the Luxor massacre of western tourists in 1997, as governor of Luxor. The group’s leader threatened to “sever the heads” of anti-Morsi protesters. Morsi and the Brotherhood also spoke at rallies with extreme Sunni clerics who condemned Shia as infidels, and called Egyptians to armed Jihad in Syria (44) – (46).
Murders of Shia and Christians followed. However Morsi condemned the killings and ordered the police to bring those responsible to justice. Sectarian murders also happened under Mubarak and military rule, including the notorious Maspero massacre of Christians by the military in October 2011. So the coup is not protecting minorities (48) – (50).
The military has its own extremist allies. In December 2011 Abdel Moneim Kato, a retired general then on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, said protesters should be “burnt in Hitler’s ovens”, though he was later fined for this (51) – (52).
A Wall Street Journal editorial recently claimed that Egyptians would be “lucky” if their military rulers turned out to be like “Pinochet” and “hired free market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy”. In fact Pinochet had thousands tortured and murdered and ruled as a dictator without any elections for 15 years till 1988 and planned to stay on till 1997 if he hadn’t lost a referendum (53).
While all Egyptians understandably try to avoid getting on the wrong side of the men with guns, tanks and jet fighters ; and both the Islamic parties and their secular opponents have tried to get the decisive support of the military as kingmakers, it shouldn’t be forgotten that since Mubarak fell, and even before Morsi was elected, the military has been responsible for much of the jailing, killing and torture of protesters ; even jailing some for years merely for criticising it (54).
The military may aim to prevent civil war, but maintaining their own power and influence is probably an additional motive. The coup hasn’t prevented pro and anti Morsi protesters killing one another ; and the military was already killing pro-Morsi protesters with live ammunition before the 50 deaths on July 9th, though not all protesters on either side are peaceful ; a minority being armed with clubs or knives (55) – (60).
While some pro-Morsi protesters armed with petrol bombs and at least one man firing a pistol seem to have been present when the military killed over 50 and wounded over 400 of the Muslim Brotherhood protesters camped outside the building where they’ve imprisoned the deposed President, and 3 soldiers and policemen were killed, this may have been an over-reaction, like armed police and the military using live ammunition on protesters, some of whom were violent, under both Mubarak and military rule (61) .
Being elected shouldn’t be a blank cheque used by governments to do whatever they want without listening to all their citizens, but military coups against elected governments are undemocratic.
Zogby polls found support for Morsi and the Brotherhood fell to 27% by May, and most Egyptians opposed the new constitution, but 56% of Egyptians were against the army taking power even temporarily (62) – (63).
However opinions can change quickly and polling results differ greatly depending on the question asked : in March Pew Polling found 52% having a positive view of Morsi and 53% viewing the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party positively (64).
The secular opposition condemned Morsi for military repression, for instance his decree which granted the military the power to arrest and try civilians until the constitutional referendum. Will it now repeat this and hand the military all the cards?
While there may be some former members of the NDP that the secular opposition to Mubarak can work with, a power sharing government of all parties might be a way to prevent the military and Mubarak’s old guard continuing to return real power to their own hands by playing their divided opponents off against each other.
(1) = BBC News 04 Jul 2013 ‘Profile: Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour’,
(2) = Al Ahram Online 04 Jul 2013 ‘Prosecutor-general sacked by Morsi reinstated’,
(3) = Amnesty International 02 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt: Mubarak verdict fails to deliver full justice’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-mubarak-2012-06-02 ; ‘However, the acquittal of all the other defendants, including senior security officials, leaves many still waiting for full justice…Six senior security officials, including former head of the now-disbanded State Security Investigations service (SSI), were acquitted…Corruption charges against two of Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, and his business associate Hussein Salem, who was tried in absentia, were dropped.’
(4) = VOA News 08 Jun 2013 ‘Anger Erupts in Egypt Over Mubarak Retrial’, http://www.voanews.com/content/anger-erupts-in-egypt-over-mubarak-trial/1677958.html ‘Anger erupted Saturday in the Egyptian court retrying ousted president Hosni Mubarak for complicity in the killings of hundreds of protesters, after a judge barred the participation of lawyers representing families of those killed.’
(5) = BBC News 22 Nov 2012 ‘Egypt's President Mursi assumes sweeping powers’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20451208 ; 3rd para ‘President Mursi also sacked the chief prosecutor and ordered the retrial of people accused of attacking protesters when ex-President Mubarak held office.’
(6) = Egypt Independent 22 Nov 2012 ‘Morsy issues new constitutional declaration’,
(7) = BBC News 14 Jun 2012 ‘Egypt supreme court calls for parliament to be dissolved’,
(8) = NYT 02 Dec 2012 ‘Egyptian Court Postpones Ruling on Constitutional Assembly’,
(9) = CNN 23 Nov 2012 ‘Egypt's Morsy says courts can't overturn him’,
(10) = BBC News 08 Jun 2012 ‘Egypt parties end deadlock over constitutional panel’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18360403
(12) = BBC News 23 Feb 2013 ‘Egypt's Morsi changes parliamentary elections date’,
(13) = BBC News 07 Dec 2012 ‘Egypt opposition rejects President Morsi's call for talks’,
(14) = AP / Time World 10 Dec 2012 ‘Gunmen Attack Egyptian Opposition Protesters’, http://world.time.com/2012/12/10/egypts-military-takes-over-security-ahead-of-vote/ ; 9th to 10th paragraphs ‘Cracks in the opposition’s unity first appeared last weekend when one of its leading figures, veteran opposition politician Ayman Nour, accepted an invitation by Morsi to attend a “national dialogue” meeting. On Monday, another key opposition figure, El-Sayed Badawi of the Wafd party, met Morsi at the presidential palace. The opposition has said it would not talk to Morsi until he shelves the draft constitution and postpones the referendum.’
(15) = BBC News 28 Jan 2013 ‘Egypt opposition rejects Mohammed Morsi dialogue call’,
(16) = France 24 27 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt opposition rejects dialogue with Morsi’,
(17) = Wall Street Journal 05 Jul 2013 ‘Egyptians Open Door to Mubarak's Allies’,
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324260204578587872719316196.html ; see 4th, 17th, 19th , 20th paragraphs ‘Mohammed Abul Ghar, the head of Egypt's secular-leaning Social Democratic Party and a leader in the National Salvation Front, the leading opposition group to Mr. Morsi…After Mr. Morsi claimed authority over Egypt's judiciary in November, many of the young secular activists behind the revolution against Mr. Mubarak made common cause with Mr. Shafiq's supporters and other NDP loyalists… The party decided to accept former NDP members who weren't close to Mr. Mubarak and whose records were clean of corruption allegations… Gamal al Zini, a former NDP parliamentarian from the Nile Delta city of Damiet, said he has had regular meetings with local youth activists, Tamarod leaders and members of Mr. ElBaradei's Constitution Party since May..’
(18) = Egypt Independent 20 Feb 2013 ‘Former NDP members to form new party’,
(19) = Ahram Online 11 Feb 2011 ‘NDP Offshoots’,
(20) = Al Jazeera 03 Jul 2013 ‘Egypt's Morsi offers consensus government’,
(21) = Israel National News 03 Jul 2013 ‘Morsi Offers to Form Interim Coalition Government’, http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/169573#.UdY3aW3K5bM
(22) = ABC 04 Jul 2013 ‘Morsi aide says coup underway in Egypt after president defies army deadline to quit’, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-04/tensions-high-in-egypt-as-army-deadline-expires/4798284 , 11th – 14th paras, ‘In a last-ditch statement before the deadline passed at 1.00am (AEST), the presidency said a coalition government should be part of a solution to the country's political standoff. Mr Morsi reiterated his call for a national dialogue and the formation of a panel to amend the country's controversial Islamist-drafted constitution….Opposition parties refused to negotiate with him and met instead with the commander of the armed forces.’
(23) = BBC News 23 Feb 2013 ‘Egypt's Morsi changes parliamentary elections date’,
0) = Observer 30 Mar 2013 ‘How Egypt's radical rulers crush the lives and hopes of women’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/31/egypt-cairo-women-rights-revolution
(31) = Al Ahram 11 Feb 2013 ‘Shura MPs fault protesters for Tahrir Square rapes, sexual harassment’,
(36) = Global Post 20 Mar 2013 ‘Egypt bread protests begin after rationing announced’, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/130320/cairo-egypt-bread-protests-rationing-fuel-shortage
(37) = Al Ahram 20 Dec 2012 ‘It’s still bread, freedom and social justice’, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/631/30/It%E2%80%99s-still-bread,-freedom-and-social-justice.aspx
(38) = guardian.co.uk 19 Mar 2013 ‘Bakers become latest victims of Egypt subsidy cuts’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/19/bakers-egyptian-subsidy-cuts
(40) = guardian.co.uk 06 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt's gathering economic gloom leaves millions facing food shortages’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/jun/06/egypt-economic-gloom-food-shortages
(41) = ‘Egypt's new age of unrest is a taste of things to come’ by Dr Nafeez Ahmed, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jul/04/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-morsi-unrest-protests
(42) = Guardian Weekly 18 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt sees Ethiopian damn as risk to water supply’,
(43) = guardian.co.uk 11 Dec 2012 ‘Egypt's IMF loan deal postponed after Mohamed Morsi scraps tax increases’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/11/egypt-imf-loan-delay-morsi
(44) = guardian.co.uk 17 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt's Mohamed Morsi appoints hardline Islamist to govern Luxor’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/morsi-appoints-islamist-governor-luxor
(45) = AP / ABC News 28 Jun 2013 ‘Violence Flares in Egypt Before Weekend Rallies’, http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/egypts-opposition-criticizes-presidents-speech-19513846?page=3
(46) = Wall Street Journal 24 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt's Morsi And His Party Criticized After Killings’, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323998604578565510237185012.html
(47) = AP / Seattle Times 19 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt top cleric: Protests against Morsi permitted’,
(48) = Human Rights Watch 27 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt: Lynching of Shia Follows Months of Hate Speech’, http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/27/egypt-lynching-shia-follows-months-hate-speech
(49) = Al Ahram 24 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt's Morsi, Qandil denounce Shia killings’,
(50) = HRW 25 Oct 2011 ‘Egypt: Don’t Cover Up Military Killing of Copt Protesters’,
(54) = Amnesty International 22 Nov 2011 ‘Egypt: Military rulers have 'crushed' hopes of 25 January protesters’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-military-rulers-have-crushed-hopes-25-january-protesters-2011-11-22
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3c61c72c-e54a-11e2-ad1a-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2YOQLQWHZ , ‘Egypt was on Saturday recovering from a day of violence and mayhem after street battles between thousands of supporters and opponents of its ousted president raged across the country on Friday. At least least 35 people have been killed and 1,404 injured in the last 48 hours according to the health ministry....’
(62) = Zogby Research Services Jun 2013 ‘AFTER TAHRIR: Egyptians Assess Their Government, Their Institutions, and Their Future’ , http://www.aaiusa.org/page/-/Polls/EgyptianAttitudesTowardMB_%20June2013.pdf (see pages 10, 11,19 and 23 by numbers at foot of pages, or 12,13, 21 and 25 by PDF page counter)
(63) = Independent Media Review Analysis 18 Jun 2013 ‘Zogby poll of Egyptians: Morsi bad-do not want army take over’, http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=61307
= Wall Street Journal 17 May 2013 ‘Poll Shows Muslim Brotherhood Maintaining Support Despite Egypt’s Travails’, http://blogs.wsj.com/middleeast/2013/05/17/poll-shows-muslim-brotherhood-maintaining-support-despite-egypts-travails/