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In a stunning display of power, the Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday, putting an end to the Muslim Brotherhood's hold on power after just one year. Tanks and troops poured onto the streets of Cairo, and fireworks erupted in Tahrir Square, where millions had gathered to celebrate.

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Stop Calling Our Revolution a Coup

The military stepped in as a response to the outcry of the people, Egyptians tell Kirsten Powers.

Egyptians have been jubilant that their autocratic and dangerously incompetent president, Mohammed Morsi, was removed from power one week ago. But they are also frustrated with lectures from American congressional leaders and some American journalists who have characterized the Egyptian people's popular uprising as an undemocratic power grab. The Obama administration has avoided the word “coup,” which would jeopardize under U.S. law the $1.3 billion in aid we provide to the Egyptian military—but expressed “deep concern” over the ousting of Morsi.

Ousted President Morsi

A poster of ousted President Mohammed Morsi hangs on the barbed wire at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, on July 9, 2013. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

If there was one message I heard repeatedly in speaking to Egyptians who were active in the protests, it was this: “Stop calling our revolution a coup.”

Their president, the Egyptians note, was given the opportunity to meet the demands of the people but instead delivered a defiant speech making clear he would continue to rule in an undemocratic fashion. The military removed him, and Adly Mansour, the head of the Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is now the acting president. He issued a decree Tuesday that calls for a constitutional referendum in November, followed by parliamentary elections in December and a presidential election in February.


The Muslim Sisterhood

Will Egypt’s fresh bloodshed quiet the newly established female voice? By Sophia Jones.

Hager El Saway is an assistant lecturer of dental radiology at Cairo University. When she speaks—whether in a lecture hall or over a coffee—she has a striking presence. Under the Mubarak regime, when she was denied the right to work at the university because of her religious beliefs and political affiliation, she filed a lawsuit against the government—and won. Hager is a proud female member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has long been seen as a boys’ club of conservative, bearded men.

Muslim Brotherhood

A female supporter of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood protests in support of deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on July 7, 2013. (Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty)

Following the 2011 revolution, Hager, like many other women, took on a more public role within the organization. But now, with the ousting of Mohamed Morsi and subsequent bloodshed, Islamist women say they are afraid the Muslim Brotherhood will be pushed underground once again, inhibiting their newly established voice.

“Muslim Brotherhood women weren’t seen as women before the revolution because they were afraid of politically participating and being arrested,” Hager said assertively. “Women—especially very conservative women—didn’t go out. Now, women in niqabs stand in demonstrations alongside men.”


Death on the Nile

A massacre before dawn in Cairo this morning raises the risks of massive violence in Egypt.

Shortly after dawn in Cairo today, as news spread that members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been slaughtered while saying their morning prayers, their spokesman told The Daily Beast that “the conscience of this country needs to wake up, and the conscience of the rest of the world needs to wake up."


A wounded supporter of Morsi lies at a local hospital in Cairo on July 8, 2013. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

The tragic events described by Gehad El-Haddad may just do that: the official death count is now over 40, allegedly including five children, one as young as 6 months old. El-Haddad blamed the military and police for firing on peaceful demonstrators without provocation.

The details may or may not be accurate. The military may or may not be responsible. In terse statements it has blamed an unnamed “terrorist group” for attacking the protesters outside the Republican Guard headquarters, or the headquarters itself, or both. The military says one police officer and one soldier died in the incident.

Can’t Hide

The Crackdown Begins

‘This is a coup!’ Morsi’s been ousted, and his supporters have nowhere to go. Do the Army arrests signal Egypt’s return to the Mubarak era?

When Egypt’s top general announced that the Army had overthrown the president late Wednesday night, the thousands of Mohamed Morsi supporters who had massed around the Rabaa el-Adaweya mosque in Cairo erupted into shock and hysteria.

Egypt's top general announced Wednesday that Mohamed Morsi had been ousted as president.

“This is a coup! A military coup!” exclaimed one 42-year-old man, who until that very moment had been sure the generals would allow Morsi to stay, a look of horror washing over his face.

Some men screamed in rage. Others fired guns into the air. On the streets surrounding the demonstration, shopkeepers pulled down their metal grates. Crowds scrambled to leave the area as men with heavy sticks and metal rods rushed to reinforce makeshift checkpoints, expecting an attack.

Independence Day

Happy Fourth, Egypt

Yes, it was a coup. But the Egyptians are striving for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness just like America did in 1776. Christopher Dickey on what Washington should do to help.

Washington has a serious tendency to exalt semantics over common sense. Right now it’s fretting over whether to call what happened in Egypt on Wednesday a coup d’état.

Mideast Egypt

Amr Nabil/AP

To do so could trigger an automatic cutoff of more than $1.3 billion in American aid to Cairo and with it, the Obama administration fears, whatever is left of American influence in the Arab world’s most populous nation. Unfortunately, the law is clear: no dough for “the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.” Lawmakers and journalists are turning to the American Heritage Dictionary, among other lexicons, hoping they can weasel around that wording by defining a coup as something carried out by a “small group.” This overthrow, it might be argued, had the backing of millions of people in the streets of Egypt’s cities.

Well, on this Fourth of July I’d like to suggest that our lawmakers take a look at another bit of American heritage that gives a much clearer idea of the emotions behind the ongoing Egyptian uprisings. What the masses in Tahrir Square want their rulers to understand, precisely, is that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And as the American Declaration of Independence proclaimed without equivocation, governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Cairo’s protesters were in Tahrir Square, Morsi fans stuck to Nasr City, and across the Nile at the university, 16 people were killed. Explore a city under siege in this interactive.


What Egyptians Really Want

It's official: the military has ousted President Morsi after just one year in office. Will all hell break loose, or can the army keep control? Christopher Dickey reports.

It looks like all hell is about to break loose in Egypt, so it may seem a strange moment to leaf through the pages of an old history book. But in a nation that has existed for more than 5,000 years, the past is more than a prologue.

Egypt Protest

Thousands of Egyptian protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo as the deadline to evacuate approaches on July 3. (Spencer Platt/Getty)

In 1830, as it happens, a young imam who had been sent to France by the Ottoman viceroy to learn about the mysteries of the West bore witness to huge, bloody riots in Paris. The mob brought down one king, installed another, and still was not satisfied. (Further riots two years later set the stage for Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.)

The Muslim scholar from Al-Azhar, Rifa’a al-Tatawi, had never seen anything like it. But as he tried to make sense of the popular revolution, he focused on the word “honor,” which he thought carried the same weight for the French masses as for his Arab compatriots. It implied courage, valor, dignity, and an attachment to personal freedom that made people almost ungovernable. Writing specifically of his compatriots, Tatawi said, “Each holding on to his superiority, no one submits to the other: they are all noble equals.”

Roadmap to Violence

The Mexican Standoff in Egypt

Any good spaghetti Western or Hong Kong action film culminates with a "Mexican standoff." Classically, three protagonists stand, pistols drawn, all with each other in the crosshairs at close range. Theoretically, in this conundrum, the first to shoot is at a tactical disadvantage. More recently, Mexican standoffs have degenerated into a simpler formula in which two principals have each other at gunpoint, neither able to fire or stand down without unacceptable risk.

In the Arab world, Egyptians are renowned for their films and TV shows, especially their dramas and soap operas. The Egyptian "revolution" has, from the start, been a roller coaster alternating between epic heroic drama, mass tragedy, ludicrous farce, gangster-film intrigue and surrealism worthy of David Lynch. Now, with the dark inevitability of Greek tragedy, it has reached the "Mexican standoff" phase between the President and the army.

Egyptian protesters calling for the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi gather in Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on July 2, 2013. (Khaled Desouki / AFP / Getty Images)

Egyptian protesters calling for the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi gather in Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on July 2, 2013. (Khaled Desouki / AFP / Getty Images)

Army chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday gave President Mohammad Morsi just 48 hours to resolve the political crisis rocking the country by finding an accommodation with the political opposition. If "the people's demands" were not met in that timeframe, the military, he vowed, would assume their "responsibility to the nation" and enforce a "roadmap for the future." The statement was unambiguous: Morsi must either resign, or call new, snap presidential elections at once. Otherwise he will face a de facto coup d'état.

Last night, Morsi responded with an angry, defiant and implicitly violent speech to the nation. He used the word “legitimacy” no less than 57 times in 45 minutes, and insisted that because he had won the election, any attempt to get him to engage in political compromise was a plot by remnants of the old regime, traitors, coup plotters and agents of foreign "hidden hands." He repeatedly stated his willingness to shed his own blood and give his own life in defense of "legitimacy." Most importantly, he offered no concessions, to the political opposition, the military, or the millions of Egyptians who continue to demonstrate for his resignation or new, immediate presidential elections.


‘Game Over’ for the Brotherhood

If a military coup takes place, what will happen to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood?

On Monday night Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi vowed to defend his presidency “with my life.”

Mideast Egypt

Amr Nabil/AP

Officials from his Muslim Brotherhood still making statements—many said they couldn’t speak—were likewise defiant in the face of a deadline imposed by Egypt’s top general that seems to spell Morsi’s ouster and possibly a crackdown on the powerful Islamist group. The deadline expires at 4 p.m. in Cairo, or 10 a.m. in New York. Mohamed Soudan, the foreign-relations chair of the brotherhood’s political party, warns of “endless violence and bloodshed” sparked by the group’s more extreme Islamist allies if the “coup” takes place. “It can be bloodshed. It can be civil war. And the Army knows that it can’t face that,” he says.

Mohamed Beltagy, a senior brotherhood official, said in a Web statement that Morsi’s supporters should prepare for “martyrdom.”

Slow Change

Obama, Egypt, and the Long Haul

I wouldn't exactly defend Obama's Egypt policy, and I can understand politically why Republicans are taking potshots, which are nicely summed up in this Foreign Policy article. But most of the criticism is opportunistic. Not only can no US president control events in Egypt. It's nearly impossible even to influence them. What's going to happen is going to happen.

This is a natural phase in the Arab Spring. Yes, I still use that term, because I take the long view that what started in Tunisia and Egypt two years ago was the beginning of a process that's going to take probably two generations, or 30 years, maybe more.

It was inevitable that the first round of elections in a newly democratic country was going to be won by the most nationalist-right party. There are many reasons for this, among them the fact that the liberal groups are ill-financed and fractured, but mainly just that the nationalist-right party offers the kind of xenophobic appeal that most people will fall for before democratic habits of mind are established in the larger people, which takes a long, long time.

Democratic habits of mind...this is the key, and it doesn't come easily for any society. Took the United States a good 100 years. With regard to the treatment of black citizens, 170 years. These habits don't exist yet in the Arab world by and large, except to some extent in Lebanon, which unfortunately is functionally run by Hezbollah, and a few other places.


'This Is Our Army'

Who’s leading the campaign to oust Morsi? Mike Giglio reports.

At around 4 p.m. on Monday, a photo of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian Army, appeared on television sets around the country. Addressing Egypt’s embattled president, Mohamed Morsi, Sisi delivered an ultimatum: calm the crisis gripping Egypt within 48 hours or the Army will intervene. With protesters flooding the streets, the prospects of Morsi’s ouster seemed more likely by the minute as the clock began to tick.

Within the hour, TV screens focused on a different face. Mahmoud Badr, 28, was unknown even among Cairo activists as recently as this spring. But he has become the face of the anti-Morsi movement behind the protests now threatening to force him from power. Speaking at a press conference, Badr said protesters wouldn’t be satisfied until Morsi was gone. “He is against the revolution!” he said, clearly fired up.

He also praised the military, again and again. “We salute the Army! We salute them! They have shown that they are with the people.”

Slight and unassuming away from the cameras, Badr was dressed in a T shirt and jeans late Monday as he sat down with The Daily Beast outside the TV studio where he’d just made his last on-air appearance of the night. He was riding high on the moment. “I am so proud of the Egyptian people,” he said. “We are so close to doing it.”


Morsi, Get Out!

Bigger Than the Arab Spring

Egypt’s Coming Crisis

After millions protested against Morsi, there are rumblings that the military may force the democratically elected president to resign. Is Egypt ready for the generals to reenter the spotlight?

It was Hazem el-Zohery’s job to keep track of the numbers for the signature campaign that led the calls for Sunday’s landmark protests in Egypt. But even he was surprised by their size. “I never imagined,” he said.


A protester holds an Egyptian national flag outside the vandalized Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo on July 1, 2013. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Visibly exhausted, Zohery was standing on a street corner near Cairo’s presidential palace as demonstrators drifted home late Sunday night. Millions of people had turned out across the country to call on their Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, to step down. In Cairo, they’d filled Tahrir Square and surrounded the palace, as news reports suggested the protests were even larger than those Egypt had witnessed in the Arab Spring. Now Zohery and the other organizers were left with the question of what comes next.

Zohery said the protests wouldn’t stop until Morsi was gone—and that the coming days would see their campaign move toward “escalation.” Hardcore supporters from outside Cairo would be brought in to support a sit-in around the palace as the crowd ebbed and flowed with the work week under way. A campaign of civil disobedience, meanwhile, was being planned for other parts of the city. “These numbers change everything completely,” he said.


Egypt on the Edge

Both sides say they will not initiate violence — but are prepared to respond in kind if the other side does. Mike Gilgio reports from Cairo.

CAIRO—When Mohamed, an organizer with a prominent Egyptian opposition group, decided that his colleagues needed more guns, he knew where to turn. He collected donations from wealthy local supporters totaling 11,000 Egyptian pounds, or about $1,500. Then he went shopping on the booming black market, buying four handguns, two rifles that shoot rubber pellets, and 300 bullets. The new weapons brought the total close to 10 for a group of around 50 people that Mohamed oversees in his Cairo district.


Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty

Mohamed is a well-to-do young father and professional, a devout Muslim and a respected activist. He spoke on the condition that his last name not be published and his organization not be named. He bought the weapons late last year, with the intention of using them to defend anti-government protesters from the supporters of Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, amid escalating tensions between the two sides. They’ve never been used. But with millions of people expected to take the streets around Egypt demanding Morsi’s ouster on Sunday—and fears of political violence running on high—Mohamed says that will change.

He expects the demonstrations to come under attack, the guns to be fired and people on both sides to be killed. “No doubt my friends will defend themselves,” Mohamed says. “We know that some people will die. But it is a price.”


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