News Release

22 Million Signatures, Hundreds of Thousands of Protesters Call for Morsi’s Ouster

The Huffington Post reports: “Hundreds of thousands thronged the streets of Cairo and cities around the country Sunday and marched on the presidential palace, filling a broad avenue for blocks, in an attempt to force out the Islamist president with the most massive protests Egypt has seen in 2 1/2 years of turmoil.”

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS, sharif at democracynow.org, @sharifkouddous
Kouddous is a correspondent for “Democracy Now!” and a fellow at the Nation Institute. Reporting form Tahrir Square in Cairo, he said this morning on “Democracy Now!”: “The Tamarod campaign … the campaign that really started the calls for this protest that took place yesterday, has given Mohamed Morsi until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow to respond and to step down and call for early elections. If he doesn’t, they’re saying they’re going to call for an escalation, further protests, more civil disobedience, and possibly calling for a general strike.

“The Tamarod campaign … began on May 1st, on Labor Day, here in Tahrir Square, by a group of grassroots activists, many of them tied to the Kefaya movement, which was formed in 2005 against Hosni Mubarak. … And they gained 22 million signatures calling for Morsi’s ouster. This is an unverifiable number, but certainly the number of people that have signed is indeed very, very large. And this was manifested, like we saw yesterday, in this incredibly massive turnout.

“I think it’s important to remember that what we’re seeing in Egypt is an increasing alienation and dissatisfaction with this democratic process. Egyptians have gone to the polls more than four times over the last two years, and their lives have not been improved in any way. The political class is seen as removed more and more from the lives of ordinary Egyptians and talking about things that don’t relate to them. And so we continually see this tug of war between conventional politics and revolutionary politics. And revolutionary politics is in the street, and that’s what we saw an explosion of yesterday.

“And just finally to add, the U.S. administration, Secretary of State John Kerry, very quietly approved the $1.3 billion in foreign military assistance that is the annual aid the U.S. gives to the Egyptian military here, despite the arrest and the conviction of 43 NGO workers who were sentenced to between one and five years in prison, including 15 Americans who were tried in absentia, except for one of them. Secretary of State John Kerry waived those concerns in Congress and allowed this foreign military assistance to go forward. And the letter that was leaked to the Daily Beast, you can read, includes the reasons of stopping attacks from Gaza into Israel, allowing U.S. warships through the Suez Canal, allowing U.S. military overflight rights over Egypt. So, again, security and military concerns trump concerns of democracy and human rights and justice, which has been the U.S. policy for some time now towards Egypt.”

GHADA TALHAMI, talhami at mx.lakeforest.edu
Talhami is emeritus professor in the department of politics at Lake Forest College. Her books include The Mobilization of Muslim Women in Egypt and Palestine in the Egyptian Press.

She said today: “If recent demonstrations in Egypt demonstrate anything, it is the Morsi government’s loss of legitimacy. The Islamist government had always threatened to mobilize and bring out its popular base in the streets, oblivious to the fact that this maneuver by an elected government is nothing short of fascism. By now, Morsi must recognize that the lack of any significant movement on the economic front, and his assault on Egypt’s institutions such as the judiciary and the press have cost him all goodwill outside of his party.

“Having recently suffered through his reinstatement of an Islamist constitution, the appointment of an Islamist governor of Luxor who was implicated in past attacks on tourists, and bloody and unprovoked assault on Egyptian Shi’ite villages, most Egyptians have run out of patience. Add to this his foreign policy blunders which not only mirror Mubarak’s diplomatic paralysis and his inaction in the face of threats to Egypt’s security, but also betray the current government’s lack of appreciation for the dangerous regional environment which surrounds it. For instance, rather than pay attention to public demand for renegotiating the Camp David treaty with Israel, or develop a strategic plan to face threats to Egypt’s water security due to the completion of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and the imminent independence of the Southern Sudan, Morsi seems focused on intervening in Syria’s civil war. But most of all, there is a perplexing inability of Egypt’s Islamist forces to appreciate what this struggle is all about, namely the refusal of the country’s secularists, liberals, women, and minorities to accept an Islamic redefinition of Egypt’s national identity.”