After 11 years of Sisi, Egyptians ignore 2013 coup anniversary

Over the past decade marking Sisi’s rule, media freedom, freedom of expression and human rights sharply deteriorated in Egypt, a country ranked now as the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists. [Getty]

11 years after a coup ousted Egypt’s first democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi, led by then-defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egyptians do not seem to pay much attention to the anniversary.

The limited reactions of social media users and publicly to the 11th anniversary of the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule is no surprise.

Rather, social media activists seemed more preoccupied with the impact of the worst economic crisis the country has sustained in modern history, mostly impacting low and average-income households.

“Ideally, people are expected to celebrate a victory, an occasion they remember happily that has resulted in a positive outcome,” a prominent political sociologist told The New Arab.

“It is true that the public requested the army’s intervention to counter the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and help put the people on track by realising the demands of the 25 January Revolution of 2011. But, unfortunately, this was not the case,” noted the expert on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.

Conspiracy theories abound

Sisi first took power unofficially in 2013 as the de facto leader of Egypt after he overthrew Morsi, who died years later behind bars, and then he was officially elected president a year later.

“People now mock the changes advocated by Sisi’s government as they know very well they have turned into the prisoners of the International Monetary Fund and the loans overburdening the country as well as regional pressures and challenges, not to mention political oppression and restricted rights,” the expert argued.

Over the past decade marking Sisi’s rule, media freedom, freedom of expression and human rights sharply deteriorated in Egypt, a country ranked now as the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists. 

In June 2022, Sisi admitted that he ordered the Egyptian air forces to film the 2013 protests that broke out against Morsi’s reign, which were used in the coup.

“Whether the conspiracy theory suggesting that intelligence or army agencies mobilised the public against Morsi is true, nobody can deny that many Egyptians were dissatisfied with the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ‘Brotherhoodisation‘ of the state’s powers,” a high-profile political studies professor told TNA, who asked to remain anonymous for similar reasons.

Political groups, human rights activists and religious minorities found no solid ground for themselves in an Islamised community at the time when Morsi failed Egyptians, whose living conditions deteriorated on social and economic levels during his tenure.  

On the other hand, women felt that their rights were diminished as they were looked upon as inferior to men or so perceived by religious fanatics dominating the social and political scenes at that time.

A ‘soft’ coup

Morsi was known for being a mediocrity in the group’s leadership, only enlisted to run as a substitute candidate to the top choice, billionaire businessman Khairat El-Shater, who had been disqualified by the election committee.

Following the coup, tens of thousands of coup opponents were imprisoned with hundreds more being crushed at two squares in Cairo and Giza, dubbed by international media and rights groups as the “Rabaa Massacre.” Morsi himself died in an Egyptian courtroom in 2019 after years of medical neglect in prison.

How to label what took place after 30 June remains a subject of debate. Sisi and his allies still labelled it as a “revolution” while pro-Brotherhood and anti-regime activists insist it was a military coup. However, in terms of political definition, analysts in the country have resorted to calling it a “soft coup.”  

The country’s debt soared by 5.1 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2022, reaching US$162.94 billion, a total of US$10 billion more than the previous quarter.

In April this year, Sisi officially took oath as president for a third, and supposedly final term, as president, winning 89.6 per cent of the vote held in December 2023, a contest overshadowed by Israel’s brutal onslaught on the Gaza Strip and the civil war in Sudan bordering Egypt.

Sisi’s victory has been a foregone conclusion for most Egyptians as he ran against three other candidates, none of whom were high profile, in a vote widely viewed as neither free nor fair.

The country’s constitution was previously amended in 2019 to extend the presidential term to six years from four, which allowed Sisi to run for a final term in 2030.

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