Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1158, (25 - 31 July 2013)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1158, (25 - 31 July 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Not a coup

Part of the international community feels that 30 June was a coup, not a revolution. As Rania Khallaf found out, Egyptian writers think otherwise

Tahrir Square
Tahrir Square
Al-Ahram Weekly

An international press conference convened by Mohamed Salmawy, the president of the Egyptian Writers Union (EWU) on Saturday explained to the media the EWU’s unequivocal verdict on 30 June. The celebrated writers Alaa Al-Aswani, Gamal Al-Ghitani and Iqbal Baraka were the main speakers, but numerous prominent writers were present to offer their support at the crammed conference hall in Zamalek. Before reading out part of the statement issued by the EWU, Salmawy gave a short introductory address: “The former president’s promises of an economic revival turned out to be a nightmare, as the poverty rate rose from 23.5 to 25 per cent, and it is ironic that it was the poorer constituency that suffered under the Muslim Brotherhood regime even though they were the main factor behind Mohamed Morsi winning in the presidential elections.” Salmawy went briefly into the public deficit and currency reserves, explaining the soaring inflation. “The Brotherhood also failed dramatically at restoring security to the streets, and built up autocratic pillars to exclude other political trends, which led to unprecedented polarisation in society.” In this speech, Salmawy also mentioned hate speech against women, Coptic Christians and Muslim minorities like the Shia, which thrived under the Muslim Brotherhood.
“What happened in Egypt was not a coup. It was a popular revolution waged by millions of this ancient nation’s citizens. These millions rose up in order to free the country of dark forces inimical to enlightenment, progress and beauty,” the EWU statement itself says. “On 30 June, huge numbers of Egyptians staged the largest political demonstration in history, exercising a basic human right, that of the people to choose their own rulers. In choosing to side with the will of the people, the Egyptian army was performing its duty to protect national security against the horrors of bloody civil confrontations, the shadow of which was looming over the country. The threat of this spectre originated with a despotic ruling authority that had resolved to defy popular will and insisted on clinging to power… Once again, for the first time in the two and a half years since the January Revolution of 2011, Egypt is proceeding along the path of freedom, democracy, social justice and human dignity. These were the slogans of the revolution and for their sake the Egyptian people have paid dearly with the blood of their young. Egypt has retrieved its spirit from the clutches of an antidemocratic regime that had abducted, betrayed and assaulted it for over two years.”
The statement was read in Arabic, English and French by the key speakers, after which Salmawy made one of the main points: “I wonder why our friends in the West believe the revolution was a coup d’état when ‘recall referendum’ is a well-known democratic tool adopted in many states in the US. In 2011, there were around 150 recall referendum cases in different parts of the United States.” For his part, Al-Aswani, who read the statement in French, said foreign analysts should first realise the meaning of a coup d’état before making judgments. “What happened in 1952 was a military coup later supported by people,” Al-Aswani said. In any democracy, he explained, citizens have the right to call for early elections through parliament. “Now that parliament was dissolved in 2012, people should have the authority to withdraw their confidence in a president who decides to be a dictator. This is why Tamarod was a legitimate movement.” Al-Aswani pointed up Washington’s double standards: “When the former president Morsi decided to issue his constitutional declaration [placing his decisions above legal questioning], though it was rejected by the opposition, the US did not react.”
Al-Ghitani focussed on how strange it is to see the pro-human rights West supporting the fascist-style protests at Rabaa Al-Adawiya. “This runs completely counter to the sublime democratic ethics different generations of Egyptian writers have inhaled and learned from Western literature,” he said. “Millions of demonstrators of all ages and political backgrounds went out to voice their discontent all across the country that day. They did so spontaneously, without direct orders from any political party,” he said in a moving tone. “I believe the number of demonstrators exceeded 50 million, counting the many millions who waved Egyptian flags and red cards from their balconies. I will never forget the sight of a group of blind, poor women whom I encountered on my way back from downtown that day. They were walking, hand in hand, with the first one on the right holding the Egyptian flag and asking passers-by the way to Tahrir Square — obviously to take part in demonstrations.”
Also present at the conference was Mohamed Nabawi, a member of the executive committee of Tamarod, who said that millions of Egyptians took to the streets on 30 June to put an end to what was a fascist regime that caused a serious social rift. Likewise, Tarek Al-Kholi, a member of the Revolutionary Forces Front, remarked that the Muslim Brotherhood had one positive effect, in that it helped to reunite various national forces, the army and police together with the people, all against the stupid and reactionary governance. “Dissolving political parties based on religious affiliation is a must,” Al-Kholi said. “This should be one of the essential gains of the 30 June revolution. We also reject the notion of amending the current constitution. A new constitution must be drafted, representing all classes and sects of Egyptians.” For his part Mahmoud Badr, the popular spokesman of Tamarod, expressed his appreciation for the role played by the EWU in supporting the campaign since day one. “What counts,” he said, “is the solidarity of the Egyptian people, not the views of the West. When [the Brotherhood leader] Khairat Al-Shater said in his last meeting with the anti-Brotherhood politician Amr Moussa, ‘We are strong because we have the United States on our side’, I thought, ‘Tamarod is strong because we have God and the majority of the Egyptian people on our side’. My question to the free world is: What would you do if you were ruled by a dictator whose policies drove the country to record levels of failure at all levels? Would you stay calm and let him complete his presidential term and completely destroy your country?”

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