2013 Past Headlines

Observations on the Current Situation in Egypt by Professor Mohamed Arafa, S.J.D. '13


Mohamed Arafa, S.J.D. '13, shares his first-person account of the situation in Egypt after spending Summer 2013 in his homeland.

"There’s been a lot of political instability and insecurity since early 2011, when you undoubtedly saw the news coverage of a million-plus protesters gathered in Cairo at Tahrir (Liberation) Square to demand the ouster of the president that ruled Egypt with an iron fist, Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak’s departure opened up a struggle for power that isn’t anywhere near resolved. The Muslim Brotherhood ended up winning Egypt’s first democratic presidential election, and Mohamed Morsi, took office on June 30, 2012.  

"What’s going on today is the latest round in a two-and-a-half-year battle over what sort of country Egypt will be. Considering that democracy is still really new and experimental in Egypt, regular people tend to express their political will by opposing and protesting. People began to protest against what some consider a terrorist group -- the Muslim Brotherhood – and their dictatorial religious policies. Morsi was removed from power on July 3, 2013, following what many call the second Egyptian revolution, which began on June 30, 2013, also the biggest mass gathering in national history.

"Egyptian security forces have a long track record of violence against civilians. I believe that the words “fight for Egypt’s future” are more than merely symbolic. It’s a genuine physical confrontation that’s happening on the street. At the current moment, there are three things that most legal experts and political analysts seem to agree on. Any or all of these could prove erroneous, but they’re the most common, short-term likelihoods:

  1. The military-led government (Lt. General ‘AbdelFattah elSisi) will keep cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood in order to fight the violent acts and terrorist activities facing Egypt (burning churches, rising sectarian tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians, burning police stations, burning public and private properties, using forces, killing national citizens, etc.) and inspiring public hostility toward the group, which they’ve been doing since the 1950s.
  2. The United States will call for a peaceful and comprehensive democratic transition including national dialogue, amending the 2012 Constitution, parliamentary election, followed by a fair and transparent presidential election. But the U.S. will refrain from punishing the Egyptian military for fear of losing power and to protect the U.S. national security interests in the Middle Eastern region as Egypt is the cornerstone in the Arab region, and most of the biggest Arabian countries at the moment support the Egyptian government and the military.
  3. The actual, fundamental problems—political division and a free-falling economy—are only going to get worse.

"At the risk of sounding apathetic and unenthusiastic, it should be noted that in every revolution the best day is the day on which the revolution is acknowledged and declared a success. From that point on it goes mostly downhill because the accumulated problems of the past come rushing to the fore, demanding instant resolution, with anger, frustration, disappointment, and hope all mixed together and competing for attention. It always takes time for revolutions to simmer down and for life to fall into a normal routine.

"As is generally well-known, revolutions are never tidy; instead, they are messy, chaotic, and unpredictable. Hopes are frequently destroyed—though some remain—and the reality of the situation and an appreciation for what needs to be done makes for a rude awakening. Democracy as a process may have succeeded, but freedom, human rights, and the rule of law will surely be lost. In this regard, I’d like to quote the extremely appreciated Egyptian expert and Century Foundation scholar Michael Hanna when he said, “Egypt might just be ungovernable.” When someone insists that he knows what God demands everybody must do, you can either submit or resist. Egyptians chose to resist and the Muslim Brotherhood, not the Egyptian military, chose blood. Accordingly, when all is said and done, some will say the glass is half full while others will say it is half empty. I believe the glass to be half full."

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