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Remembering Egypt’s bloody military coup

Egyptians gather to protest their support for Mohammed Morsi on 15 February 2016 [file photo]
Egyptians gather to protest their support for Mohammed Morsi on 15 February 2016 [file photo]

Four years ago today the Egyptian army overthrew the country’s first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi. In the aftermath of the coup Egypt’s armed forces suspended the constitution and appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim head of state. Morsi and his presidential team were detained in an unknown location and later stood trial.

What: Military coup

When: 3 July 2013

Where: Egypt

What happened?

In January 2013, then army Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned that the political crisis in the country might lead to a collapse of the state. Two months later the Tamarrod movement collected signatures for a petition calling for new presidential elections in light of Mohamed Morsi’s failure to restore security and fix the economy and organised mass protests to this effect.

On 30 June demonstrators took to the streets. Armed vehicles were deployed around Cairo and armed forces to areas they expected protests in support of Morsi, such as Cairo University.

Morsi warned the country that he was the elected leader and that attempts to overthrow him would lead to chaos but on 3 July he was arrested by the army and detained in an unknown location alongside other members of his presidential team.

Read: Torture in Egypt up by 16 per cent

That evening Al-Sisi set out his roadmap for Egypt in a televised statement.  President Morsi had ignored the calls of his people, he said, and therefore he was suspending the constitution, calling for early elections, putting the chief justice in charge, putting in place an interim government and setting up a committee to amend the constitution.

Opposition leader and then Vice President Mohamed El-Baradei and the Coptic Pope Tawadros II stood by his side.

What happened next?

In the weeks that followed, Morsi supporters joined mass protests and demanded his release. On 14 August 2013 1,000 people were massacred by the army in Rabaa Square where they had gathered to call for his immediate return to power.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders were prevented from leaving the country and Morsi and his presidential team were held at secret locations. In September 2013 state television announced that Morsi would stand trial for “incitement to murder and violence” during a protest between his supporters and the opposition and for ordering others to be tortured and unlawfully imprisoned.

#AntiCoup 

In November 2013 Morsi and other top Brotherhood figures were put on trial for the first time. In April 2015 they were sentenced to 20 years in prison. They still face trials in a number of cases.

In March 2014, Al-Sisi officially announced his presidential bid and assumed power on 8 June that year. In the four years that have followed the coup the military-led government has inflicted a wide-scale crackdown on all members of the opposition, not just the Brotherhood.

Unprecedented numbers of people have been forcibly disappeared, tried in mass trials or military courts, given the death sentence, tortured in detention and denied medical care once detained. Children are arrested, detained with adults and sexual violence used against them. Human rights organisations and workers have been targeted as well as journalists, activists and lawyers.

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