After ideological clashes between the Egyptian populace and President Mohammed Morsi, the military staged a coup on July 3rd and deposed Morsi. The new authorities have also targeted many leaders within the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoning several and conducting surveillance on others. The military has appointed a judge as Egypt’s interim leader, and promised the people a new round of elections.
In a region of the world where many people support sharia as the law of the land, and coming on the heels of the so-called Arab Spring, this coup represents a significant departure from current trends. Morsi, himself a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been pushing an agenda centered around the propagation of political Islam since he was elected in June 2012. In November of last year, he granted himself unlimited powers to protect the nation, including the ability to unilaterally pass new legislation immune to judicial oversight.
Egyptians began protesting in greater and greater numbers until the dissent finally came to a head on June 30. The military demanded Morsi acquiesce to the protestors’ demands and relinquish his expanded powers; Morsi, for his part, remained defiant. Then, on July 3, the military swiftly and effectively deposed Morsi and installed an interim government. Again, this coup is an interesting development; in a region where most of the population supports political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and its leaders have suddenly found themselves unpopular among the people and targeted by authorities.
In light of these events, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning urging citizens to avoid visiting Egypt. The warning, issued yesterday, includes the following: “Demonstrations have, on occasion, degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters, and between protesters supporting different factions, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators… Of specific concern is a rise in gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the specific targets of sexual assault…On June 28, a U.S. citizen was killed during a demonstration in Alexandria. On May 9, a private U.S. citizen was attacked with a knife outside of the U.S. Embassy after being asked whether he was an American. Additionally, Westerners and U.S. citizens have occasionally been caught in the middle of clashes and demonstrations.”