Many Egyptians – not only the activists and protestors who worked against the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime – were astonished that it was toppled so very quickly. This occurred not only because of the Egyptian army’s role in the process. Rather, the main cause lay in the fact that, during one year of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi’s rule, his policies on all levels – social, economic, cultural and security – were a huge failure.
In addition to these failures, the Muslim Brotherhood as a religious group sought to quickly change the identity of the Egyptian people. They sought to impose their views, style of life, and vision for social relations. They intended to build a religious state that exclude Egypt’s Coptic Christians and treated women as second-class citizens, based on the Brotherhood’s interpretations of religious and sex-determined roles.
Over the last two centuries, Egypt developed as a modern secular state that respected freedom of religion. On this basis, Christians were part and parcel of its social and political life. As for women, the liberation movement, which recognized women’s rights as human beings and citizens, commenced at the end of 19th century, and further progressed after the July 23rd Revolution led by the Egyptian army in 1952. During the second half of the twentieth century, Egyptian women were educated on a large scale, with thousands integrated into the workforce, as well as trade and civil society associations.
It is the sons and daughters of these women who organized the mass movements of the January 25th Revolution in 2011, and the second wave of the revolution on June 30, 2013. More than 30 million Egyptians were in the squares and streets all over Egypt. Even peasants who were absent in January 2011, joined the revolutionary movement of 2013. There was also intensive participation of women of all ages.
The Egyptian army supported this popular uprising, enabling it to avoid the massacre anticipated by the religious militia. The army refused to shoot the protestors, with El Sisi saying, “We will cut our hands before shooting the people.”
This is why any objective and rational analysis of what happened on the 30th of July, 2013, when Morsi was toppled, would never describe what happened as a military coup, as this description would be unfair and untrue.
In both waves of the revolution, Egyptian women participated on a large scale, defending the four aims of the revolution: bread, freedom, social justice, and human dignity. These aims were largely betrayed by Morsi’s regime. During the one year of his rule poverty increased, as did the number of jobless educated young people. There were shootings on protests and strikes, while more than 3,000 youth and activists who participated in the revolution were arrested and tried on false accusations. Sexual harassment became such a widespread phenomenon that women were obligated to stay home – which, according to Morsi’s regime, is their natural place.
However, contrary to the regime’s ideology, millions of women participated in the second wave of the revolution, including my neighbors who were never before interested in politics or public issues. In addition, women added to the four aims of the revolution, a fifth: defending women’s rights, which were violated by Morsi’s religious regime. Morsi refused to recognize the Mubarak regime’s signing of international human rights conventions, including those related to the rights of women, and especially the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This when most new civil society associations recognize CEDAW as the basic reference point for defending women’s rights as fundamental to international conventions pertaining to human rights.
The main problems facing Egyptian people (stemming from the rule of ex-president Sadat) are still looming: poverty, unemployment, and the growing influence of radical Islamists who are fanatically anti-feminist. However, Egyptians are hopeful because we recognized our energy, ability, and power to change. We say, YES WE CAN.