On the first anniversary of his inauguration as Egypt’s first ever elected president Mohamed Morsi found himself facing demonstrations, unprecedented in size, demanding his dismissal. At times it felt as if the entire population was on the streets, the vast majority asking Morsi to go.
The size of nationwide protests on 30 June wrong-footed not just Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership but also key Western capitals, not least Washington.
The mass protests were accompanied by a show of sympathy for the Armed Forces whose leadership was receiving assessments suggesting that protester numbers would exceed 10 million. Demonstrators also received a sympathetic nod from both the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar and the patriarch of the Coptic Church.
“I don’t need encouragement from anyone to join the demonstrations. I have never protested before, not during 25 January Revolution or afterwards, but I am protesting now because things cannot go on this way. I spent five hours last night queuing to get fuel for my car and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of our problems,” said Ahmed, an accountant, on the eve of 30 June demonstrations.
A day later and Ahmed’s sentiments were being expressed by millions of demonstrators who flocked to the presidential palace. Complaints of deteriorating living conditions dominated, but there was also concern over attacks on freedoms, especially the freedom of expression.
Informed sources say that as the demonstrations were growing Morsi, “secured” in an annex of the offices of the intelligence, was insisting that protesters numbered only tens of thousands, all of them supporters of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.
“He was not just arguing, he really believed it. When he was shown pictures of Tahrir Square he actually claimed the pictures were false,” said one source.
--July 4, 2013