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Egypt: A Pyramid Scheme

In early 2011, anti-government protests, known as the Arab Spring swept across the Middle East and North Africa. It started in Tunisia, and spread within weeks to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Libya. These protests were supposed to bring to power new governments that would bring social justice and political reform. The main result has brought these countries war. In Egypt, the military has taken control over the government, with broken promises of democracy now long forgotten.
The President of Egypt in 2011 was the authoritarian leader, Hosni Mubarak. He was in power for 30 years until he resigned in February of that year amid corruption and abuse of power allegations. When he stepped down from power, he gave the presidency to the military’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which only convenes in times of war or great internal emergencies.
The Council’s first order of business was to establish an open democratic election for the presidency and parliament. It suspended the Constitution of Egypt, and planned to eliminate the emergency laws put in place nearly three decades before. Eventually there was to be a peaceful transition of power to civilians that had been demanded during the protests. The Supreme Council did none of the things they promised would occur. The head of the Council, Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, “elected” 15 new governors, most of whom were military figures, and/or members of the old regime. Many citizens complained the governors were appointed, not elected, which was not democratic of the acting government. Additionally, over 16,000 people, many of whom were journalists, protesters, and bloggers, were put on trial for expressing their opinions. One member of the Council called for “some kind of insurance” so the Council would not have to operate under the whim of a president. After the burning of a church in October of 2011, Coptic Christians, members of the Orthodox Church of Egypt, protested. The Council, in retribution, killed twenty protesters. The SCAF attempted to put the blame on the protesters, saying that they were the ones who became violent first, but released footage indicated otherwise. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces remained in power for over a year until elected president Mohamed Morsi took office.
Morsi, however, was removed from office in 2013 after a coup by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces led by the chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Al-Sisi forced Morsi to step down or he would be arrested. Morsi refused, saying he could fix Egypt’s problems politically, and al-Sisi ordered his arrest. Morsi went on trial for espionage, and was sentenced to death, but it was commuted. The military, as represented by President al-Sisi, is once again in power. This began an error of mass murders, with the government ordering the deaths of thousands of citizens.
Additionally, al-SiSi has now started to crack down on citizens who speak their mind. He has classified them as “terrorists,” claiming they are a threat to Egypt. Recently he has placed retired soccer icon Mohamed Aboutrika on the rapidly growing terrorism watch list. He has also banned dissent of his regime, and accusations of unfair trials, kidnapping, and torture regularly come up on the news, and the disappearances of bloggers, activists, and journalists is now a norm. A retired security official stated that the government keeps activists in check by making sure they don’t meet with other activists, give them no breathing room, and arrest some to scare the rest.
The instability in the leadership of Egypt has been difficult on the people. The people fear expressing their own opinions, and do as the government dictates. Under the military, the government’s abuse of citizens and power has caused many organizations to claim that Egypt has a growing human rights crisis, which will only worsen the longer that the military is in charge.