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Egyptians were in deep shock but even more worrying was the presence in large numbers of leaders and members of Hamas. The final point was the presence of Ayman el Zawahry in Sinai. That was the lowest point for Egypt. Strong rumors were circulating about a deal with Hamas to take over northern Sinai and evacuate Gaza; that a deal was being brokered by the States to buy 40% of Sinai to repatriate the Gaza residents. Not only were our eastern borders compromised, our southern borders as well were being traded off to Sudan, and a large part of our south was even chopped off the newly printed maps. Not only that but the planned Suez Canal project was being turned into a buy/sell deal to Qatar. This was the straw that broke the Carmel’s back where the Egyptian people were concerned. We were being slowly turned into a torn country, a terrorist country with the blessing of its rulers. Depression turned into desperation, desperation into anger, then into innovation. It was at this lowest point in our collective consciousness, when our desperation reached unprecedented proportions that we started looking for help. We were unarmed. We were only united in our misery, and the different Parties and the opposition leaders were all very ineffectual. Slowly all eyes started to turn to the Army. Then voices started asking about where the army stood in all that. At first there were rumors that General Al Sisy was a Brotherhood sympathizer, but this died a natural death when in April, at our lowest point, he took the opportunity of some gathering, to address the people in general. It was the first time he spoke directly to the Egyptian people. In a soft voice, without any bombast or histrionics, he got his message through. The Army would never let the people down: “We have your back. You are the source of legitimacy and we are here to serve you”. I remember listening to a repeat of that speech the next morning, I broke down and cried. Egypt was not totally lost after all. There was still hope as long as the army was with us.
By end of April 2013 three young men spearheaded a rebellious movement which they called Rebel. This was a peaceful campaign to gather signed petitions calling for early Presidential elections. The cutoff date was set for June 30, the anniversary of Morsi’s one year of rule. The target was 15 million signatures to show that more people are for the early elections than those who actually supposedly voted him in.
In the meantime a committee made up of all the extremists quickly made up a constitution that was passed practically overnight. Human rights and freedoms were totally compromised in this constitution, but especially women’s rights. One clause was put in specifically to get rid of one of the most active Supreme Court Judges. Never had we seen such a tailored piece of legislation. It should be taught as an example of what not to do.
The Tamarod campaign took off like wildfire. Everybody participated. The form was put on the net from which people printed and started gathering signatures of family and friends, of co-workers and when it really took off, total strangers approached total strangers, and signed. The Brotherhood started getting worried. Tamarrod offices were attacked and burned, signed petitions were stolen, Tamarod personnel were attacked, and in several cases killed. But the campaign snowballed, and excitement grew and all the people were in a state of anticipation as to the number achieved.
Fuel and food shortages were now at their zenith. Public transport of goods was being affected by the dearth of gasoline. The man on the street was feeling the pinch. Power outages were now the norm. At the same time word got out that the direly needed fuel was being funneled in to Gaza! Not only were Hamas personnel now running wild all over Egypt, they were sucking the life out of us, and all sanctioned and even encouraged by the gang ruling the country. Discontent was at its highest and angry rumblings started to take the aspect of a muted roar.
While this was going on you would think that the Brotherhood would keep a low profile, but no, on the anniversary of Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 war with Israel, Morsi held a rally in a covered auditorium where only card holding members of the Brotherhood were admitted. There he toured in an open car to the cheers of his people, then sat through speeches by some of the most virulent of their preachers, spouting hatred and inciting against minorities like Christians and Baha’is. This was a real low for Egypt indeed. Very soon after this rally several Baha’i citizens were dragged out of their homes and brutally slaughtered, as a direct result of that rally.
By June 26 tensions were so intense and expectations so high, Morsi announced that he was going to give a speech, which kept being put off till he started at around 11 in the evening and talked for three hours which did nothing to allay these tensions, on the contrary, it left his audience even more upset than before. It was his usual rant, but even worse. He was extremely nervous and was more vulgar than ever. It was quite a performance. He had the gall to actually wish he would get the chance to go stand in the gasoline lines that were everywhere for miles on end! Rumors were spreading like wildfire that there were armored vehicles on many street corners, police special forces. The atmosphere was very tense.
On June 28, exactly two months after the Tamarod campaign was inaugurated, the number of signed petitions was announced. Twenty two million and several hundred thousand. Euphoria! We did it! There could be no doubt where the will of the people lay. But absolutely no response from Morsi or the Government. So the Tamarod leaders held a news conference where they announced that they as representatives of the people who had signed the petition are asking the people to take to the streets on June 30 to clearly ask for early presidential elections. It was very hot and demonstrations would start at 5 pm, but people started drifting in to all squares, all over Egypt, not just Cairo and Alexandria. By nine that evening there was an estimated 33 million Egyptians on the streets, all over Egypt. I joined one of those demonstrations and marches near my residence and the energy and excitement was very addictive. The spontaneous chants were, “Come out Sisy, Morsi is not my President”. All the calls were for Sisy and the army. The mood was euphoric, the hope was bursting out that the nightmare endured for a year now was about to be over.
On the 30th June Sisy gave Morsi an ultimatum, either announce early presidential elections, or abdicate in favor of the head of the Supreme Court. Morsi refused. Sisy gave him another forty eight hours, and when he still did nothing, Sisy, in response to very strong popular demand announced a new road map:The appointment of the head of the Supreme Court as Interim President, an interim Government to be formed and the constitution to be amended.
The one year long nightmare was over, and though, knowing the Brotherhood’s history of violence, and after living through that year of fascism and assassinations, we were expecting the worst. We were not disappointed.
To be continued … The Aftermath