Egypt marks on Tuesday the second anniversary of the June 30 protests that led to the ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, a day after an explosion struck the convoy of the Egyptian state prosecutor in the capital Cairo, who later died.
June 30 is the anniversary of Mursi’s presidential inauguration in 2012. A year after completing a troubled year in power, nationwide protests filled Egyptian streets with the aim of forcing Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group out of power.
Several political parties have called for celebrations to commemorate this year’s anniversary.
A founder of the Tamarod movement, which campaigned for the protests and organized a petition drive demanding Mursi’s resignation, told Al Arabiya News she would celebrate what she called “the world’s greatest revolution.”
But the celebrations are likely to be marred by Monday’s car bomb attack that killed prosecutor Hisham Barakat and injured several of his bodyguards, casting doubts over the already unstable security situation.
Barakat has referred thousands of Islamists to trial following Mursi’s ouster. The crackdown on Islamists following June 30 has also led to intensified attacks by insurgents in the violence-plagued Sinai Peninsula sparked by the Islamist leader’s overthrow.
In addition to security problems, doubts over curbing freedoms are still persistent. A recent report released by the Committee to Protect Journalists earlier this month said that Egypt’s imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high.
The controversial protest law is another restriction of freedom that could lead to prison sentences, said Tarek Khouli, an opposition activist who participated in the 2011 and 2013 protests, told Al Arabiya News, calling for it to be amended.
Arrests among students and activists are still rampant, according to local media reports. “The state is still tracking activists, the situation is getting worse,” opposition activist Mahmoud Afifi, said in an interview with Al Arabiya News.
But what will Egyptians celebrate?
While many demands remain unfulfilled, Cairo-based political sociology Professor Saeed Sadek told Al Arabiya News Egyptians still have an achievement to celebrate.
“[Egyptians] will be celebrating victory over political Islam. The Muslim brotherhood was the biggest and strongest organization in the Islamic world.”
“They will celebrate that they did not end up like the Iranians [after] the Iranian Revolution or that Egypt did not end up like Syria, Iraq, Yemen or Libya.”
“If the brotherhood continued it would have led to a civil war,” he said.
Sadek said Egyptians saved the state on June 30 from a fate similar to what happened in other Arab countries following the Arab Spring.
He acknowledged more was yet to be done to restore security and flourish the economy.
“To many Egyptians, the most important thing is the state, stability and security,” he said. “Four years ago the security conditions are much better but not perfect.”
The police and security sectors still need reform, he added. But the step towards that has already started in his opinion following a court ruling that sentenced a policeman to 15 years in prison for the killing of an unarmed female activist in Cairo last January.
“In the case of Shaimaa Sabbagh, the Interior ministry played games not to put the officer on trial,” but later he was convicted, he said.
People angered by the Brotherhood’s monopolization of power, massive fuel shortages and electricity blackouts channelled their outrage through protests that began in February 2013.
A month later Tamarod emerged on the scene, collecting signatures calling Mursi to step down. By June, the protest group said it had collected more than 22 million signatures and called for protests on June 30, the first anniversary of Mursi’s election to office.
The military, led by the then army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, vowed to side with the public and asked Mursi to propose concessions, including the appointment of a new government.
Continued protests prompted the military to give Mursi a 48-hour ultimatum to seek a political solution. But Mursi saw that as a way to “dispute his legitimacy” as a president, and rejected the demands.
On July 3, Mursi was ousted from power. He was placed under house arrest by the country’s elite Republican Guards. A new leadership emerged on the scene led by Sisi which suspended the constitution and issued arrest warrants against Muslim Brotherhood figures.