Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Egyptians are fed up with Morsy

By Frida Ghitis, Special to CNN
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy clash with riot police during the swearing in ceremony of Adly Mansour as interim president in Cairo on Thursday, July 4. Egypt's military deposed Morsy, the country's first democratically elected president, the country's top general announced Wednesday. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/04/middleeast/gallery/egypt-after-coup/index.html'>View photos of Egypt after the coup.</a> Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy clash with riot police during the swearing in ceremony of Adly Mansour as interim president in Cairo on Thursday, July 4. Egypt's military deposed Morsy, the country's first democratically elected president, the country's top general announced Wednesday. View photos of Egypt after the coup.
HIDE CAPTION
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Photos: Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Photos: Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
Protests in Egypt
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Millions take to the streets to protest against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy
  • Frida Ghitis: What's striking is the intensity of anger at the Muslim Brotherhood
  • She says Egyptians realize that Morsy's government is not living up to its promises
  • Ghitis: The discontent and protests show that Egypt's revolution is far from over

Editor's note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer and correspondent, she is the author of "The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television." Follow her on Twitter: @FridaGColumns.

(CNN) -- One of the most striking aspects of the massive protests that have broken out across Egypt is the intensity of the people's anger directed at the Muslim Brotherhood.

Welcome to the second wave of the Egyptian revolution.

Millions of people have poured onto the streets, marking the first anniversary of Mohammed Morsy's swearing-in as Egypt's president with a demand that he step down immediately and make way for new elections. If Morsy refuses, they plan a campaign of civil disobedience that could paralyze the country. Now the army has stepped in with an ultimatum, telling Morsy he has 48 hours to satisfy the protesters' demands.

Frida Ghitis
Frida Ghitis

The organizers, a group known as Tamarod or "rebel," say they have already collected 22 million signatures in support of their demands. That's far more than the 13 million votes Morsy -- the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood -- received in the presidential election, and a sign that discontent has spread beyond the liberals, or former regime supporters.

The opposition's push for new elections has clearly capitalized on Morsy's dismal record, particularly on the economy's downward spiral and the chaotic security situation. But there's more to this protest than a call for jobs, bread and safe streets.

Morsy has few friends as deadline looms

Underpinning the calls for change is a growing understanding of the meaning of democracy, and an increasingly pervasive sense that what Egypt has had under Morsy is not the system that Egyptians had in mind in 2011 when they overthrew a deeply entrenched dictatorship.

When Egyptians poured into the streets in early 2011, they wanted to topple Hosni Mubarak, the dictator who had ruled the country for three decades. They succeeded in ending dictatorship, but their revolution took a sharply different turn from the one envisioned by the young idealists who occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Egypt's military gives Morsy ultimatum
Anti-Morsy protests heat up in Egypt
Egyptian protesters want Morsy out
American killed in Egyptian violence

Unlike the Brotherhood, Mubarak's rule had no overarching ideology other than cementing his hold on power. The Brotherhood, by contrast, has a distinct ideology, and it is moving steadily, if gradually, to put it into place. It essentially wants to use its interpretation of Islam as the guiding principle for the individual, society and the state. And it ultimately wants to unify all Muslim states into one, to "liberate them from foreign imperialism."

What happens to the Brotherhood in Egypt will affect Brotherhood parties across the region. Already its image of incompetence and noninclusiveness is a stain that will be difficult to erase.

In Egypt, Islamist parties quickly moved to the forefront of the post-Mubarak political scene. The Ikhwan, as the Brotherhood is known, had a head start in political organizing. It competed on a stage where other parties had barely taken shape, vying for voters who had practically no experience with democracy. Not surprisingly, the Brotherhood won every election, although its margin of victory steadily narrowed.

Liberal activists had struggled to explain to voters a number of basic democratic concepts, such as secularism, protection of minorities and rule of law.

Now Morsy and the Brotherhood have done Egypt a great service by demonstrating what these ideas mean.

Many Egyptian protesters accuse Morsy of governing for the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood rather than for the country as a whole. A year under Morsy has shown some of the important yet subtle aspects of democratic rule, such as the fundamental concept that winning elections does not mean the winner gets to ignore all the concerns of the opposition.

The Brotherhood's intentions and Morsy's credibility started to become troubling when they repeatedly broke their word. They vowed not to field a candidate for president, not to seek to control the parliament, not to try to dominate the constitution-writing process. And they broke every promise.

Morsy's reputation took a steep dive after he seized dictatorial powers in November. The protests forced him to reverse course, but he failed to lead the country through its "Constitutional Moment," the pivotal period in history when it has the opportunity to reach a national consensus -- much more than an electoral victory -- to write a constitution that is embraced as legitimate by the nation as a whole.

Instead, Morsy and the Ikhwan have taken their thin electoral victory as justification for gradually expanding their hold on the country's institutions. They rammed through a constitution that does not provide a strong guarantee of equality for women and for minorities. They have allegedly worked to suppress critical media, allowed inflammatory speech against non-Sunni Muslims, and rejected all criticism as work of foreigners and "falool," as nostalgic remnants of the Mubarak dictatorship are known. They have gone after nongovernmental organizations, seeking to hollow out the influence of grass-root groups, particularly those working on democracy education.

Ironically, one year under a Muslim Brotherhood government has proven quite helpful in educating Egyptians about democracy.

Morsy and the Ikhwan have inadvertently helped explain how in a democracy, the rights and the voices of minorities, even of election losers, must be heard. They have unwittingly shed some light on the complicated concept of secularism. In the first wave of elections, many voters thought if they were Muslim -- as most Egyptians are -- they should vote for the Muslim Brotherhood. And they thought secular was synonymous with atheist. Now they're discovering how religion can be exploited for power.

Egyptians accuse Morsy and the Brotherhood of engaging in a process of "Ikhwaninzation," a quest to take control of state institutions and impose their Islamist views on the population.

Unfortunately for Morsy and the Brotherhood the protesters are more experienced this time around. Egyptians have learned that it's not enough to topple a dictator.

It is unclear where this second wave will lead. The opposition is still divided and its small component parts may still not be large enough to defeat an Ikhwan party in a new election. But the protests are a sign that the revolution is far from over, and this time its target is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frida Ghitis.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT