In Egypt, the People Have Spoken
When an estimated 33 million people took to the streets of Egypt on Sunday, violence was expected to erupt en masse.
Instead of a day of frustration and anger, it quickly turned into a day of happiness and hope, with Egyptians coming together in what might have been the largest public demonstration the world has ever seen.
Manar Ammar, reporting for Occupy.com, wrote that there was an overwhelming sense of joy across central Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the place that has become synonymous with change. She said families, children and parents, couples, and the old and the young congregated in the square and on the numerous side streets in a massive show of people power that is likely to see the Morsi regime removed.
They began the day chanting, “Down with the regime,” and they ended with one word: “Leave.”
“We are here to oust Morsi,” said Mohamed Al-Sayed, 55, a printing supervisor who was accompanied by his wife and two children Jomana, 5, and Ahmed, 13, according to Occupy.com.
But Morsi remained defiant. With the military saying on Monday that it is giving the president, his supporters and the opposition 48 hours – ending Wednesday night Cairo time – to come to a compromise or it would intervene, the president rebuked the military.
Defiant and misleading, Morsi used the ongoing political impasse to slam the protesters and rally his supporters.
But the square continues to be crowded. Similar to the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, the protesters are unwavering in their demand for early elections and a new direction for Egypt.
There should be no underestimating the power of street protests in Egypt, though that’s what the White House is doing.
While it says it supports the democratic process, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson argued before June 30 that “Morsi is not Mubarak.” She didn’t make any friends with the protesters when she added at a seminar, “Some say that street action will produce better results than elections. To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical.”
She also said, "Egypt needs stability to get its economic house in order, and more violence on the streets will do little more than add new names to the lists of martyrs.”
As a result of these undiplomatic comments, many Egyptian protesters are carrying signs denouncing Patterson and the United States.
Egyptians know their country better than Patterson does. They know that by occupying the main squares across the country their voices will be heard.
In Morsi’s one year in power, the economy has continued to tank, violence has spread, attacks against women have multiplied, and the living conditions of the majority of Egyptians remain in the doldrums as he limits freedoms and tacitly supports sectarianism in the country.
The military is likely to return to power in a pseudo coup, taking back control of the country it led poorly for a year and a half following Mubarak’s fall.
Will it be better?
Maybe, maybe not.
But that is not the point.
The point is that Egyptians are demanding change. Street protests in the absence of any real debate and cooperation between political forces in the country are seemingly the only way for the majority to speak and be heard.
Military intervention in Egypt must not be an endgame scenario. It must be a truly transitional period where all political forces are able to come together and develop a new direction, a new constitution that guarantees the rights of all citizens above religious sentiment.
If the military can understand and learn from its previous mistakes, allowing for a transitional council called for by the Tamarod Movement, or “Rebel” in Arabic, then Egypt can have a bright future.
Will the military detain and imprison activists once more?
Or will it help build stable foundations for a country that is inching toward a modernity that is truly Egyptian?
These are the questions that must be answered.
Meanwhile, the people have spoken, and it is time for a new leadership to take Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s place.
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