More than 22 million Egyptians want Mursi out
The final figure for the signatures gathered by the Tamarud (Rebel) movement to hand President Muhammad Mursi a no-confidence vote was announced today to be 22,134,465. The spokesman for Tamarud, Mahmoud Badr
The final figure for the signatures gathered by the Tamarud (Rebel) movement to hand President Muhammad Mursi a no-confidence vote was announced today to be 22,134,465. The spokesman for Tamarud, Mahmoud Badr, who declared the figure at a press conference at the Journalists’ Syndicate in Cairo said that some 100,000 signatures had been excluded because they were redundant, and 56 were incomplete. As the figures stand, they amount to near half of the 51 million-strong Egyptian electorate.
Badr warned, however, that all these signatures would be meaningless if the ‘rebels’ would not go out in the mass protest tomorrow to demand that Mursi should leave.
The plan, if Tamarud manages to topple the president, is for the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court to take over the president’s responsibilities for an interim period until the Islamist constitution rushed in by Mursi is replaced be a consensual one, a new parliament is elected, and early presidential elections bring in a new president.
Tamarud started some three months ago as a popular movement to rally against the Islamist President Mursi who was sworn in on 30 June 2012, exactly one year on tomorrow. Mursi’s one year in office has been beleaguered with political unrest, economic decline, and a severe polarisation of Egyptians along an Islamist/non-Islamist divide.
Mursi was voted in by some 15 million votes, so it was the target of Tamarud to gather signatures that would exceed this number of votes. The 22plus million went beyond their wildest expectations. Mursi’s supporters, who retaliated by their own campaign which they called Tagarud, literally ‘stripped’ a word used here in the context of ‘impartiality’ were sceptical about the Tamarud figures and pointedly accused them of forgery.
Mursi’s supporters have been flagrantly threatening Tamarud protests. Tareq al-Zomor, a leader in the Gamaa Islamiya group, said at a news conference earlier this week: “They threaten us with protests on 30 June, and we promise that they will be crushed on that day.” His political party, the Building and Development Party, promised the day would be “the end of rebels and rebellion.”
One year on Mursi as president
In a televised speech last Wednesday Mursi blamed his lacklustre performance—even though he never owned it was lacklustre; he insisted it was unprecedentedly brilliant—on conspiracies against him and on his inheriting a corruption-riddled and economically battered country from a long-time president, Hosni Mubarak. But that was a hard sell with Egyptians, the majority of whom still remember the Mubarak times as peaceful and economically flourishing, despite the corruption. The numbers Mursi cited in his speech to denote a ‘booming’ economy fell on deaf ears as Egyptians writhed under stifling shortages of basic commodities including bread and fuel.
A recent poll by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) indicated a sharp decline in the president##s approval ratings to 32 per cent compared with 78 per cent at the end of the first 100 days of his tenure.
In his speech, Mursi described relations with Christians as “lukewarm”; an allusion taken to indicate he was not happy with an uncooperative Church that repeatedly announced it would have nothing to do with politics. The Church for its part has been unhappy with the marked escalation in hate crimes, incitation and violence against Copts while Mursi’s Islamist regime looked on, neither protecting the Copts nor taking to account any culprit.
Prelude for tomorrow
Even though the big day for protest is tomorrow, Sunday 30 June, squares and public places all over Egypt have been filling up with demonstrators since yesterday, Friday. Rival protests staged by Mursi’s supporters and opponents took a violent turn; the Health Ministry announced three had died among them the 21-year-old American student Andrew Pochter, and 236 injured. Alexandria, Port Said, and the Delta governorates of Daqahliya and Sharqiya, as well as Beni Sweif some 100km south of Cairo, have seen the most violence. Army units have been deployed in several places in Egypt, among them those that saw the worst violence; the military were warmly welcomed by the people many of whom believe the military is now their only ‘salvation’. In Mansoura, themilitary were applauded by cheering and ululations.
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, banners were raised against the US intervention in Egyptian affairs, and against the US ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson for what the demonstrators described as her blatant support of the Muslim Brotherhood regime to whom Mursi belongs.
In Beni Sweif, a leaflet was circulated all over town by Islamists, alleging that it was the Christians who were behind the 30 June protests to overthrow Mursi, the objective being to defeat Islam and the Islamic sharia (Islamic law) that Mursi would apply. It alleged the Church was pushing the Copts to protest against Islamic rule.
On the ground, Coptic youth movements announced they would be taking part in the 30 June protest in order to bring down a “corrupt, incompetent, racist regime”. But the youth movements are independent of the Church which has absolutely no say where they are concerned.
In a surprise move, at least eight MPs in the Shura (Consultative) Council—the upper house of Egypt’s parliament which, since there is currently no House of Representatives, is charged with legislation—belonging to the liberal parties and the Coptic MPs resigned. According to Ihab al-Kharrat of the Egyptian Democratic Party, the resignation came in solidarity with the masses of Egyptians who saw the current ruling regime as devoid of legitimacy, and in protest against Mursi who did nothing to contain the anger of the masses.
29 June 2013