For the people of Egypt, 2011 was a year of transition and a symbolic new beginning. The international community watched as months of violent protests in the streets of Cairo cracked the foundation of then-president, Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of power. A year later, the election of Mohamed Morsi signified the beginning of a new chapter for the country – the start of the country’s democracy. However, two years after their historic revolution became a shining moment for the Arab Spring movement, Morsi’s recent removal has brought the country back to square one in its fight for democracy.
The ousting of Morsi was a direct result of a culmination of events. Protests calling for his removal began on January 25, 2013—the exact two-year anniversary of the revolution that toppled Mubarak. Claims suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood leader began abusing his presidential power shorty after being elected into office in 2012. Among the offenses, the former president attempted to increase his presidential power, declaring his decisions would be immune from review by the government’s judicial officials. Morsi’s attempt was later retracted, but the calls for his removal intensified. Morsi, who was once a symbol of freedom for Egypt’s people, had quickly become a symbol of the type of abusive ruling power the people of Egypt had fought against in 2011. By the end of June, millions of Egyptians were taking to the streets of the country’s capital once again, and by July 3, military forces had removed Morsi from power.
As the dust surrounding Morsi’s removal, the political situation in Egypt continues to develop. But the question on everyone’s minds seems to be, outside of the fact that the leader being removed was democratically elected, how will this revolution be any different?
For one, unlike the aftermath of 2011’s revolution, the next steps seem to be unfolding quickly. Chief Justice Adly Mansour is now the acting interim president, leading the country into the next phase of what many hope is a functional democracy. Mansour has acted quickly in detailing a transition plan for the country. There is a newly appointed prime minister as well as a vice-president. The plan also includes a tentative 2014 time bracket for the presidential elections. Despite criticism from all quarters, including the liberal anti- Morsi camp, that this plan is rushed; the military lead interim government is pressing on.
Clashes between pro and opposing Morsi camps have also been bloodier than ever with the body count rising fast. The military’s attempts to clamp down by engaging the media and arresting top officials of the Muslim Brotherhood, seem to have intensified rather than diffused tensions. Continuous reports of sexual abuse against women at gatherings are also worrying.
Yet even with all these red flags, international intervention seems to be scarce. The African Union has suspended the country’s membership, while the United Nations has not agreed to step in. Unlike the events of 2011, few countries are willing to be drawn into commenting on the conflict directly or to take a side. As Egypt tries to unshackle itself from the legacy of many years of tyrannical rule identifying the bad guys has become more murky. This could also be a sign of faith in the Egyptian people who seem determined to see their democracy become one where leaders are truly accountable to the people.