It’s been one month since Egypt’s first democratically-elected president has been deposed, and since Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, the power struggle between the military and Morsi’s supporters has kept the country on edge.
Vowing to remain until Morsi is reinstated as president, tens of thousands of his supporters have staged two sit-ins in Cairo for weeks, filling every inch of airspace around them with calls for his return.
Egypt’s cabinet and Interior Ministry have indicated that these sit-ins need to be dispersed, leading to fears of further deadly clashes between Morsi’s supporters – led by the Muslim Brotherhood – and security forces.
With Morsi in detention and being investigated on charges that he cooperated with the Palestinian group Hamas in perpetrating violence upon opposition protesters, the interim government is left to negotiate a peaceful solution clearing the sit-ins and yielding to calls for new presidential elections.
But what has a month without Morsi been like?
“It’s been better,” said Mohamed Ahmad, 24.
“There was not trust in the Muslim Brotherhood…they were trying to hijack the revolution,” said Ahmad, a business student.
Still, there’s the sense that both Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had their chance and blew it.
“The Muslim Brotherhood had the opportunity as they’ve never had before, but they didn’t prove to be efficient in ruling the country – they just wanted to seize power and put Muslim Brotherhood members in high positions,” said Mohamed Mahmoud Ibrahim who owns a car dealership in downtown Cairo.
Ibrahim, 50, said for him, there is no difference between the January 2011 uprising which led to the toppling of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak and the June 30 protests that led to Morsi’s fall. In fact, he’s not surprised that Morsi is now being investigated for potential criminal charges.
“If we took Mubarak before a court, why not Morsi as well? If he’s committed mistakes, then he should be charged.”
For a country that stayed under the thumb of one man for decades, the changes in Egypt have come at breakneck speed over the past couple of years: A revolution that took down a strongman, a military power grab followed by an election that brought in an Islamist-dominated government, and now, an interim government struggling with stability and the spectre of the return of military rule.
But all of those who don’t want military rule and who want new presidential elections, the pro-Morsi sit-ins have proven to be a distraction and a reason for concern.
“I blame the Muslim Brotherhood for this escalation and for blocking the streets and stopping normal life,” said Nancy Abbasi, 23.
“These sit-ins are not just sit-ins, they’re no peaceful. They just want to achieve their goals,” said Abbasi, a graphic designer who lives near the Nasr City sit-in.
“The problem is the sense of insecurity – my family worries about me every time I leave the house.”
So far, those at the sit-in don’t seem to have any quit in them, digging in more with each day, expanding the borders of their vigils, piling up more sandbags, bussing more people in and defiant that they will not be moved until Morsi comes back – however long that takes.
“I am here to defend Islam and to defend the votes of the people,” said Walaa Sayed, who has been at the Nasr City sit-in since its start.”
“I’m defending the legitimacy of Morsi.”
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