Friday, July 5, 2013

A Day Without Morsi

Cairo, Egypt: 6AM
Preparation for Friday Prayer outside my apartment. Photo by Alexia Underwood

Another quiet and rather cool morning in Dokki.

One of the things you do not realize is that no one sleeps in revolutionary situations, especially in Egypt. All the important news arrives at 2AM and the next thing you realize the sun is coming up.

Yesterday Egypt awoke to an Egypt not under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood for the first time in one year and four days. It seemed that the whole country took of a collective sign of relief. In just four days, Morsi's government had been toppled by a combination of popular uprising and a military coup. However, you are not supposed to say the word "coup" in Egypt. In fact, the use of the word by our dear President has resulted in a lot of anger. I would write an entire article about this, but Robert Fisk is more eloquent than I will ever be. I suggest you read his excellent article entitled "When is a military coup not a military coup?" from The Independent.  

While I still believe the term coup is appropriate, the fact that millions of people demonstrated in favor of the ousting of former President Morsi, changes the dynamics on the ground. This is not Algeria in 1991. However, the military intervened to bring the wave of revolutionary energy under control rather than save the revolution from Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time, Egypt is mobilized and on the move. The question of next steps is completely open. In my opinion, the only way to bring about fundamental transformation of Egyptian society would be to wrench control of the economic and political system away from military. Unfortunately, the state has been handed to them as of two days ago.

A rose for the revolution.
Yesterday Egyptians continued to celebrated the end of the Muslim Brotherhood's year long rule. People greeted each other with exclamations of "Long Live Egypt!" In spite of the fact that we were given an evacuation order - I will address this later - we still had class yesterday, including a lecture on Ramadan. It creates a bit of cognitive dissonance to be discussing evacuation while still heading to classes. Not surprisingly, the majority of us had not slept much on Wednesday night and the getting homework done was out of the questions. We mostly sat around discussing the most recent developments and the future. At around lunch time, a women came around and handed out red roses to celebrate the "revolution." Our colloquial Arabic class turned into a debate about the future of Egypt among the different professors. 

While there was a great deal of disagreement between Egyptians and the rest of the world about what these recent events mean, there is one thing that they all agree on - Egypt is awake. One of my teaches claimed, Egyptians have escaped the genie bottle (القمقم). The Egyptians were ruled by Hosni Mubarak for over 30 years before the revolution broke out. It took only a little over a year for the Egyptian people to reject the Muslim Brotherhood. No ruler of Egypt would ever believe again that they could govern this country with impunity. 

Professors in the CASA Program debate the revolution.
In spite of this optimistic thought, there are reasons for concerns. I mentioned in my last blog post that the military had moved against three Islamic television stations just after Morsi was deposed. Upon awaking, I learned that the military had stormed one of the al-Jazeera affiliates in Cairo and arrested their staff mid-broadcast on Wednesday night. A media crackdown appears to be in full swing. The democratic nature of this new regime seems to be in serious question after only two days.

In other news of the day, the new interim president, Judge Adly Mansour, was sworn into office yesterday. Largely unknown and with no real experience in Egyptian politics, it is unlikely that he will have a great deal of political influence. In spite of those that argue to the contrary, the military will be ruling the new Egypt, not the civilian government. Former President Muhammad Morsi is currently in custody. He can share a room with Hosni Mubarak or they can build a special compound for deposed Egypt "presidents." Some people are speculating that Morsi will not be the last.

As the sunset last night, the celebration continued but much less subdued. A lot of people are returning to their now lives after 4 days of frantic activity that included long nights of demonstrating in Midan at-Tahrir and around the country. Everyone seems to be taking this moment to get a bit of sleep and see what happens. The military is continuing its over the top displaces of military pomp. Last night I watched a Blue Angel-style airshow over downtown Cairo from balcony and fireworks continued throughout the evening. The news feed showed that the crowds in Midan at-Tahrir.were rather small in comparison to past days. The question of continued demonstration remains open for the opposition.

A banner in my street. It says: Egypt is a country for all. Photo By Alexia Underwood
In terms of the former regime, there are reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is calling for protests after today's prayer against the coup. It seems like a dying cause but we hope it does not lead to more violence. Last night, Islamists clashed with the military at the Rafah border crossing in the Sinai, an area that has seen increased instability since the 2011 revolution. I would delay any trips to the Red Sea for the next week.

In spite of these concerns, Cairo seems safe. In fact, it feels safer than it has in weeks.

The Revolution Continues...


For more on events in Egypt, see the excellent blog by Alexia Underwood: