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When a coup is not a ‘coup’

Samia Sidhom

08 Jul 2013 9:14 pm

As the wide majority of Egyptians celebrated with gusto the overthrow of the Islamist president Mursi and said goodbye to Islamist power in Egypt, the world watched on and denounced the ‘military coup’ that toppled a democratically elected president

As the wide majority of Egyptians celebrated with gusto the overthrow of the Islamist president Mursi and said goodbye to Islamist power in Egypt, the world watched on and denounced the ‘military coup’ that toppled a democratically elected president. This had Egyptians aghast; it was as though the millions of them that had thronged the public squares and streets in Egypt on 30 June and the days that followed counted for nothing. True, the army had stepped in and practically tilted the outcome of the events in favour of the people, but this should never have eclipsed the people power which in the first place lent legitimacy to the army’s move. At least, that was how Egyptians saw, and still see, it.  
Rescuing democracy, not reneging on it
The view among Egyptians is not that they toppled a democratically elected president, but that they overthrew a regime that had exploited democracy to come to office, then threw democracy to the wind by entrenching itself and excluding all others on the political and social arena. Egyptians realised that, three years from now when Mursi’s term would have expired and it would be time for presidential elections, there would be not a remnant of democracy left. Add to that the fact that the Islamists had worked hard at Islamising Egypt, and this obviously came at the expense of the country’s “Egyptianness”, a move which Egyptians strongly resented. Their inherent pluralism and moderation were being challenged by the push at Islamisation, and this did not sit well with them. And the disastrous economic and political performance of Mursi and his Islamist regime worked to pour oil over the fire of public discontent.
When the public fury finally exploded in the 30 June rebellion, it was an outpouring of public anger at and rejection of Mursi and the Islamists. Yet it was an entirely peaceful, nationwide, 30-million people strong protest that threatened civil disobedience and had the potential of paralysing the country. Even before the protests, Egyptians had used the media, the Internet, and even legal authorisations written to Colonel General Sisi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to call upon the military to stand by them.
When the military did finally step in, the protestors were elated. Whether or not they realised their protest might have been ineffective without the army’s backing is an open question. But the army definitely gave their protest the success it needed, and also saved Egypt from falling into ruinous anarchy.
All-out war by the Brothers 
Matters took on ominous proportions, however, when the MB apparently opted for all-out war. One of its leaders, Muhammad al-Beltagui, threatened the Jihadi violence against Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula would only stop once Mursi was reinstated; and a prominent MB preacher, Safwat Higazy, took to inciting the MB demonstrators to attack the military and promised “escalating measures to levels no-one can dream of” if Mursi is not back. 
The MB assaulted the military and also peaceful civilians and, typically, claimed they were the ones who had been assaulted. The story of the notorious attack in the early hours of Monday at the Republican Guard headquarters, which they claimed had been waged against them by the army as they bowed down for dawn prayers, was refuted by the local residents who said it was the MB who attacked the army. The photos they used to claim that their children had been hit—which begs the question what business children had to be in that place at that hour—turned out to be photos of Syrian children injured during the civil war in Syria. The Health Ministry declared there were no children at all among the 51 dead or the 435 injured.  
To cap it all, the Cairo news site www.youm7.com, the topmost news site in Egypt, splashed images of documents which the MB had left behind as they fled from around the Republican Guards once the army fought back. The documents were registers of the names of the demonstrators, when they came in and when they left, if they spent the night there, and how positive their participation was. They were clearly some sort of assessment sheets, meaning the MB were amassing demonstrators, and it was not for free. 
And on Monday evening, the MB declared to its protestors at Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the east Cairo district of Nasr City, which lies some 500m away from the Republican Guard HQ, official jihad against the Egyptian army.
Battle for survival
Obviously, the MB were not leaving Egypt without a fierce fight.  So, while the world at large appears to see nothing in Egypt but “coup”, “legitimacy”, and “democracy”; Egyptians see something else as their top priority: “survival”. The millions of Egyptians on the streets have vowed to fight against the dark forces that wish to bring Egypt down and blot it off the map of human civilisation. And, in the process, they will regain the democracy they have been robbed of by Mursi and his Islamists. 
WATANI International
8 July 2013


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