This week marks the sixth anniversary of one of the most significant events in the Middle East — one that reversed the trajectory of the Arab Spring. On July 3, 2013, the Egyptian military launched a coup against President Mohamed Morsi’s government, resulting in the massacre of thousands, the fleeing and exile of thousands more, and the demise of hopes that the country was on the verge of democratic rule.
Egypt’s military hijacked popular protests that were triggered in June 2013 to express discontent with the reign of Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president. Morsi was subsequently arrested, tried in politicized courts and reportedly mistreated.… Seguir leyendo »
Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi fainted and died during an appearance in a Cairo court last month, part of an ongoing and likely politically motivated espionage case stemming from his escape from jail during the 2011 uprisings. The country’s first democratically elected president was unceremoniously buried the next morning in a public cemetery located in the capital, after Egyptian authorities refused his family’s request to bury him in the family plot in his hometown.
This was the most recent blow dealt against the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian government. Morsi’s forcible removal from office through a coup six years ago next month immediately initiated a wave of repression against the Brotherhood.… Seguir leyendo »
Unas semanas antes del sexto aniversario del golpe de Estado ejecutado por el entonces ministro de Defensa de Egipto en 2013, Abdelfattah Al Sisi, la suerte de los líderes de los Hermanos Musulmanes en los tribunales y cárceles egipcias había dejado de interesar a la prensa mundial. La implacable represión contra el movimiento islamista se había normalizado completamente. Ya no era noticia. Sin embargo, la muerte del expresidente Mohamed Morsi, por haberse producido en unas extrañas y dramáticas circunstancias, parece haber despertado algunas adormiladas conciencias. Los focos de la actualidad se han vuelto a posar sobre las durísimas condiciones penitenciarias a las que estaba sometido el líder islamista.… Seguir leyendo »
Mohamed Morsi was buried in a closed funeral on Tuesday, almost exactly seven years after making history as Egypt’s first president elected in free and democratic elections. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that his was an assassination in everything but name.
Morsi was held in terrible and inhumane conditions since the Egyptian military overthrew his government close to six years ago. There had been many warnings about his deteriorating health, including from a British parliamentary delegation that visited Egypt last year. They concluded that, “If Morsi is not provided with adequate medical care soon, the consequences could be his premature death.” At 67, Morsi was relatively young, but the notorious so-called Scorpion Prison where he was held is less a prison and more a grave.… Seguir leyendo »
On Tuesday, Egypt plunged into constitutional crisis. The government of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi claimed victory in a referendum on constitutional changes despite clear signs of election tampering. Human rights groups were quick to condemn the result as a sham. The European Union issued a statement reminding Egypt of its commitments to the rule of law, judicial independence, and free speech and assembly.
And yet, before the dust had settled on this seismic political event, Sissi addressed the nation from the presidential palace in Cairo. He said he would renew the nationwide state of emergency for three more months.
To Egyptians, there was something depressingly familiar about this turn of events.… Seguir leyendo »
This has been a grim month for Egyptians who seek a better life and believe in dignity and freedom.
First, on April 9, there was President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s visit to the White House, where he received a warm welcome from his U.S. counterpart. President Trump uttered only a few hollow compliments about the situation in Egypt; he made no mention of Sissi’s dismal human rights record. Then, on April 16, the tame parliament in Cairo approved amendments to the constitution that could allow Sissi to remain in office until 2030.
According to statements by two senior judicial officials, the amendments would give Sissi complete authority over the judiciary and institutionalize the military’s dominance over political life.… Seguir leyendo »
We woke to the news last Friday: The 37-year-old software-developer and pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd El Fattah had finally been released from prison, after completing a five-year sentence for having called for street protests in defiance of the law. “Alaa is out. Yes, I swear,” tweeted his sister, Mona Seif, in Arabic. Not long after, she shared a blurry photo of him, sitting on a rattan chair at their family home, playing with their dog. Next came a photo of Alaa sitting with his now seven-year-old-son and holding the boy’s little feet.
It wasn’t Alaa’s first arrest, but his seventh, and longest, under four governments.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s been eight years since we took to the streets in the protests that led to the ouster of our longest-ruling president, Hosni Mubarak, a.k.a. “the pharaoh,” after his 30-year rule. Since then, we have gone from being first-time voters to seasoned ones, heading to the polls nine times to cast ballots for Parliaments, presidents or the Constitution. Our current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was re-elected in April to serve another four-year term — his second and, under the 2014 Constitution, his last. Or so we thought.
Earlier this month, Egypt’s Parliament speed-presented, -debated and -approved a package of amendments to the Constitution.… Seguir leyendo »
In less than two weeks, the Egyptian parliament suggested, debated and approved “constitutional amendments” that would allow President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to stay in office until 2034, make him head of the judiciary and subjugate the political system to a military “guardianship.” These extraordinary amendments will be subject to a referendum after a 30-day “public debate” (in a country where a tweet could land you a five-year sentence). Article 226, which defines the constitutional amendment process, explicitly prohibits the amendment of presidential term limits or the provisions related to freedoms “unless the amendment offered more guarantees” to these freedoms. In other words, Sissi’s proposed amendments are unconstitutional.… Seguir leyendo »
It is telling that, only shortly after President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi sat down with the U.S. broadcaster CBS, the Egyptian government tried to prevent the interview’s release. Enticed to take part in a “60 Minutes” interview through an appeal to his vanity, Sissi quickly realized that the questions — and his answers — were not the ones he wanted the world to see. It was embarrassing to watch. He was clearly not prepared for the interview, and that his team tried to prevent its release simply made it into an even bigger story.
His claims were astonishing. Throughout the interview, he made assertions widely known to be untrue.… Seguir leyendo »
Eight years ago, the Arab Spring uprisings led to the overthrow of longtime dictators Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. Many have attributed these unexpectedly quick ousters to the countries’ militaries defecting from the regime and siding with the opposition. But these depictions are not only inaccurate, they also have serious implications for theory and policy.
In a recent article, we argue that such interpretation of these events represent “Myths of Military Defection.” These myths have led scholars to inaccurately compare two very different armed forces and equate defection from the regime with support of the opposition.… Seguir leyendo »
I’ll never forget the words I read scribbled on the wall when I was first put into a cage in a Cairo courtroom, on Feb. 26, 2012: “If defending justice is a crime, then long live criminality.”
That was the first day of my trial, Case No. 173/2011. (In Egyptian courtrooms, defendants are kept in cages.) Along with 42 other defendants, 17 of them Americans, who worked for international nongovernmental organizations in Egypt, I was charged with operating an organization without a license (not true) and receiving illegal foreign funds (also not true). All of us worked for organizations promoting the rule of law, transparency and democracy.… Seguir leyendo »
To write in Egypt and about Egypt has long meant being under the scrutiny of an authoritarian state — starting in the 1950s with President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who nationalized the press, and extending to the present. If you didn’t approve of the government’s activities, your only option, you quickly learned, was to be noncommittal.
My first encounter with the red lines of authority was in the early 2000s, as a young writer at a weekly paper in Cairo. One day my editor, a well-respected journalist who stood apart from his submissive state-appointed colleagues for his outspokenness and professional rigor, called me into his office after an editorial meeting.… Seguir leyendo »
The head of the Coptic Church in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, is attempting to lead reforms that would redefine his church’s relations with other Christian denominations. But he now faces internal opposition that is not just doctrinal, but political, focused on the contrasting approaches of Pope Tawadros and his predecessor, Pope Shenouda III, towards the Egyptian state.
For over four decades and until his passing in 2012, Pope Shenouda acted as the political representative of the Coptic community. He perceived the relation between church and state, and by extension between political leaders and himself, as that of equals.
Pope Shenouda gave his relationship with the state a political slant by both applying and releasing pressure and exchanging political support from the church for religious benefits for the Coptic community.… Seguir leyendo »
May’s municipal elections in Tunisia had many commentators speculating about the future of the country’s ongoing democratic transition. The results were roughly in line with expectations, with the “Islamist” Ennahda taking 27.5 percent of the vote, the “secular” Nidaa Tounes taking 22.5 percent and independent candidates taking 28 percent. At the same time, voter turnout, at 35.5 percent of registered voters, was disappointingly low.
Nonetheless, most observers agree the prospects for democratic transition in Tunisia are much better than they are for Egypt or Libya. Indeed, some have come to see the contrasting trajectories among post-Arab uprising countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt as inevitable.… Seguir leyendo »
Soon after my family moved from Egypt to London, when I was seven years old and my brother was three, my mother sat us down for a talk: we are Egyptian and Muslim, she told us, remember that.
My father did not have to sit us down for a talk. But we learned every Saturday night, as we sat by his side watching “Match of the Day” broadcast one of that day’s English Division One football games, that we were also football fans (ever since, my dad and brother have supported Liverpool, while I’ve been a fan of Manchester United). And we remembered that.… Seguir leyendo »
Welcome to the first week of the 2018 African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular. We begin the series with “Women and the Egyptian Revolution: Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisings,” by Rutgers University-Newark assistant professor of political science Nermin Allam.
Allam’s book examines the 2011 Egyptian uprising. She draws from 118 interviews, most conducted with female protesters and activists. In addition to the interview data, Allam analyzes reporting (both news and commentary) on women’s activism during the 2011 uprising published in two of Egypt’s leading daily newspapers (Al-Ahram and Al-Wafd) and in the New York Times.
I found it most helpful in Allam’s book that she situated women’s activism in contemporary Egypt in a broader historical context.… Seguir leyendo »
The Egyptian presidential election has shown that the regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi still enjoys support among the same constituencies that opposed the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in June 2013. However, there has been a noticeable transformation within the regime’s support circles. Part of it has shifted from an active and unreserved support in 2014 towards a passive and conditional one in 2018.
Where supporters of the regime once showed their support by taking to the streets in 2013 and readily casting their votes in the 2014 election, many did not turn out this time. While around 25.5 million votes were cast in favour of Sisi in 2014, he received only 24.3 million this time, despite the total number of citizens with the right to vote increasing from 53.9 million in 2014 to 59.1 million in 2018.… Seguir leyendo »
As Abdel Fatah al-Sissi cruised toward reelection as president of Egypt, the state-controlled media launched an unprecedented wave of incitement against members of the Nubian minority — and my research on the topic. Descendants of an ancient African civilization, Nubians are indigenous to both Egypt and Sudan. At least 10 articles appeared on the same day with the same content — most likely under instructions from intelligence agencies. The articles featured the photographs and full names of human rights defenders who were described in derogatory language as “Nubian elements,” although they are Egyptian citizens. They stand accused of trying to “internationalize” the Nubian issue and thereby tarnish Sissi’s reputation.… Seguir leyendo »
During the last week of March, Egyptians headed to the polls to award incumbent President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi a second term. The event was an election in name only — and many Egyptians intentionally invalidated their ballots to register their protest.
Successive candidates from the military, civil society and the Islamist movement were pressured out of the race before campaigning even began. Sisi eventually faced off against a handpicked candidate, Musa Mustapha Musa, an uninspiring Ghad party official, who has been described as “an obscure toady gleaned from the scrap heap of fourth-rate politicians.” In the lead-up to the election, the Sisi regime observed “few boundaries on its untamed repression of all forms of dissent,’’ jailing, deporting or otherwise silencing any semblance of opposition.… Seguir leyendo »