Remembering Egypt One Year On
By Mohamed Zeineldine
One year ago, on the 3rd of July, 2013, two ‘Egypts’ waited in anticipation. 48 hours earlier, the armed forces issued a warning to Muhammed Morsi; agree to the demands of the opposition and the protestors or we will act.
It was, and continues to be, a very critical moment in the current crisis in the country. Two camps were formed, and it became visually clear to anyone: The events that were unfolding were to change the path of the nation for years to come.
Violence had become a daily occurrence by then. Muslim Brotherhood offices (and offices of its political party, the Freedom and Justice Party) were raided on a nearly daily basis. Clashes took place between protestors and Morsi supporters whenever his supporters took it upon themselves to protect those offices.
Independent media – except for those channels owned by the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters – was focused on one goal: Humiliate Morsi. Not one day would pass without his name being brought up on every channel in a demeaning way. Every decision made would be ridiculed. Every speech was mocked.
Freedom was at an all-time high. And yet, whenever a lawsuit was filed against a television icon, the opposition would raise the ‘freedom of speech’ card.
The season of power outages had arrived. Egypt’s problem with energy resources were felt every summer, when, with the increased use of electricity, power outages would increase drastically. The media threw the blame and responsibility on Morsi, and claimed that he was sending energy to Hamas in Gaza. (The media had already managed to demonise Palestinians in general and Hamas in particular.)
The fissure between the two camps reached its deepest depth by the 3rd of July. In Alexandria: Morsi supporters and sympathisers gathered at the Sidi Bishr Mosque; the opposition gathered in front of the Sidi Gaber train station. In Cairo: Morsi supporters and sympathisers gathered at Raba’a El Adawiya Square and Nahda Square; the opposition gathered in front of the Ittehadiya Presidential Palace and Tahrir Square.
Morsi, by nightfall, was already held in an undisclosed location. The announcement was made on live television by the same man Morsi appointed to be minister of defense when he removed Tantawi a little less than a year before that. (Tantawi was the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF], which ruled over Egypt, before Morsi became president.) Morsi was overthrown. A new system was being put in place. The head of the Supreme Court was officially to rule over temporarily. AbdelFataah ElSisi, the minister of defense who overthrew Morsi, was to rule in practical terms.
One year ago, the worst I expected would happen was that Morsi would be overthrown, and we would return to a state similar to that of Mubarak’s. Now, even that is a dream.
Immediately, once the announcement of the overthrow was made, all television channels that sympathised with Morsi were raided by the system. Those in the studios then were arrested. The property of those channels was confiscated. And, of course, those channels were shut down.
The publishing and distribution of the Freedom and Justice newspaper continued for a while until the system decided that it was enough. El Sha’ab newspaper, owned by the El’Amal (Labor) Party also continued to be published and distributed a few months longer than the Freedom and Justice newspaper, until the system shut it down. No outlet was left for any opposition except the worldwide web.
The protests continued. Those in Tahrir and at the Ittihadiya Palace left. Those at Rab’aa and Nahda remained. The sit-ins continued, and grew, through Ramadan. Post-Taraweeh protests were held in Alexandria. Eid was celebrated with a revolutionary taste. I was still optimistic.
And on that Wednesday, on the 14th of August, 2013, blood spilled onto the squares of Rab’aa and Nahda in Cairo, Egypt. One of the worst massacres in modern history took place. Thousands were killed on sight. Bodies were burned. Even the Rab’aa ElAdawiya Mosque was not saved from the flames of the system’s butchery.
The protests have not stopped, the voices are still heard and, one day, the chains will break again.
وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ اللَّهَ غَافِلًا عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ تَشْخَصُ فِيهِ الْأَبْصَارُ
(سورة ابراهيم – 42)
And never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them for a Day when eyes will stare
(Surat-Ibrahim : 42)