Sunday, June 30 saw what was the widest breadth of social upheaval in Egypt in the country’s recorded history. Millions of Egyptians participated in demonstrations calling for President Morsi’s ouster, and counter-demonstrations supporting his legitimacy took place. Momentum seemed to have soared instantly and continues to run high as millions of people literally overflow Tahrir Square, and various other cities and towns across the country. Late Sunday afternoon, Tamarod, the leading opposition group against Morsi that claimed to have collected over 20 million signatures in a petition calling for his ouster, gave President Morsi a deadline of Tuesday, July 2 at 5:00 p.m. to step down. Even in Morsi's own administration, four cabinet members stepped down this morning, showing his waning support. It’s clear that Morsi’s administration has lost credibility simply from the sheer number of protesters that came out yesterday and the millions of supporters of Tamarod. However, what the opposition must push for going forward is not only the removal of Morsi, but also the push for an inclusive government, and a move away from an authoritarian, one-party system.
A year into his administration, Morsi and his government have only seemed to successfully create a dangerously wide political gap between his supporters and the rest of Egypt, and has utterly failed in providing any sense of security as crime rates have nearly quadrupled and sexual harassment has gone to absurd heights. In addition, scores of arrests without charges continue to take place, even as Morsi promised at the beginning of his rule to stop such practices. Even to the apolitical Egyptian, daily life is becoming a struggle. The power goes out up to several times a day, and in some areas, days at a time. Running water in many areas has also been sporadic. Gas is a hard commodity to come by with hours-long gas lines at stations all across the country. The poor are becoming poorer, and there have been several threats from the government against liberal and secular media outlets and personalities. There is no sign of economic improvement as food prices continue to rise.
Only a few days before Sunday, President Morsi addressed the nation in a two-and-a-half-hour speech in anticipation of the protests. In his address, Morsi admitted that he has made mistakes during his first year in office, and that the country was in bad shape on many fronts. Despite this however, he did not address the recent killings of Shia Muslims that took place a few days prior, name-called several journalists and politicians who oppose him, and members of the opposition claimed he indirectly threatened them. What Morsi’s speech most directly reveals is that his administration continues to run the country on the same system as his predecessors have, an exclusive, one-party system. Throughout Morsi’s rule, his administration has not only alienated and criminalized liberals, but also regularly associated them with Mubarak supporters, fueling anger from his opponents.
What is sorely needed is a true break from the autocratic rule that has claimed the country for the last 60 years. Morsi’s administration sorely failed to create a system that allows for multiple parties to influence policy and make decisions. His lone decision-making, and the fact that the vast majority of his appointees were installed based on political affiliation rather than competency, is one of the most fatal mistakes of his administration. This exclusion is the reason for Egypt’s economic decline, and the reason unrest is on the rise.
What absolutely must be one of the long-term results from the June 30protest — and what the opposition must make its priority — is to aim for an inclusive and competent government. Simply taking Morsi out of the presidency and electing a liberal or secularist president will not fix this. In order for a true revolution in Egypt to truly start, the entire Egyptian political spectrum and voices of religious and ethnic minorities must be included in the legislature. If the opposition succeeds in overthrowing the current administration, it must not alienate supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Until now, a revolution has not truly started. Morsi continued Mubarak’s legacy simply by establishing a government run by one group of interests and neglecting incredibly pressing problems experienced on the grassroots level. Egyptians protesting against Morsi must understand what Morsi symbolizes and the inclusive government they must push for. Otherwise, it’s once again back to square one.