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An Egyptian Describes the July, 2013, Coup

This is from a teacher friend who lives near Cairo. 

Regading the demonstrations they were hugely amazing and they were wide nation . I hope you’ve watched them on TV . I’d like you and all Americans to know that all the squares all over Egypt were exactly like Tahrir Square and all Egyptians asked the military to take the side of the people and help us to remove the dictator, terrorist and criminal Morsy who was asking his supports ( Muslim Brotherhood) to fight us , his opponents ( the majority of Egyptians) and use violence and cause chaos in the country. But thanks God the Egyptians won and gained their freedom and gave the criminal Morsy ,who  keeps claiming that he wants to maintain legitimacy by causing civil war in the country, a hard lesson and taught him  that the ballot is not a guarantee to any oppressive ruler to keep running our country and the people of the country are the Master and the ruler is just a public servant and should serve all  his people  and not discriminate and he should fulfill his promises of freedom , justice ,  maintaining dignity for his people , otherwise he should leave.  So I want you to know that the position of the American media is so misleading to the world as it support Morsy and his regime , who called on America to support him by sending him the American military to oppose and fight his people and the Egyptian army, and he  wants the world to believe it was a coup . But the fact is the military proved its patriotism and took the side of people and helped us to remove the criminal after the repeated calls from Egyptians to the military to intervene. So the intervention of the military came afterwards people’s calls .And right now in Egypt all Egyptians are so mad from the position of America towards our revolution  and they say that the American government is a supporter of terrorists and dictators and America is a hypocrite democracy as it contradicts its principals when it comes to its interests. So all Egyptians here try to clear the position of the military to the whole world and the minister of defense declared that Egypt is on a transitional phase and according to the constitution the Chief Jude of the constitutional court sworn in yesterday, as a temporary president till  we make a new constitution instead of the very oppressive constitution by Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood and after that there will be a parliamentary elections and a presidential elections . So the military doesn’t rule .
This is a message from Egyptians to the misled American people. The situation right now is still unstable as the Muslim Brotherhood are trying to cause chaos and attack the military and his generals through the social media and try to damage its image by spreading the misleading news that it was a coup by the Egyptian generals. And they try to mobolise and use violence against their opponents. But i’m sure stability will happen soon. 


Who Participated in the Arab Spring Revolutions?

Although youth led the revolution, looking at the main supporters of the revolution, it wasn’t youth, according to a statistical study of participants in the Egyptian (sample size of 98 people) and Tunisian Revolutions (192).[i] Only 8% of students who were surveyed were active in demonstrations in Egypt, compared to 35% in Tunisia. Only 13% of the Egyptian demonstrators were aged 18 to 24, (compared to 35% in Tunisia) and 31% were aged 25 to 34 (25% in Tunisia). The authors concluded, “These simple statistics give lie to folk theories that the Arab revolutions were caused primarily by youth frustration.” Keep in mind that only 8% of the Egyptian sample reported participating in the demonstrations, compared to 16% in Tunisia, so the authors were working with a small sample.

In Egypt, using data from the Second Wave Arab Barometer administered in 2011, the three authors concluded that the Tunisian Revolution was comprised of a younger and more diverse class background than in Egypt. Both revolutions were supported disproportionately by the educated middle class and by males (76.5% of the demonstrators in Egypt and 79% in Tunisia). In Egypt the participants were more likely to be middle-aged, middle class, professional, and religious. In Tunisia the rebels were younger (likely to be students), more secular and from more diverse class backgrounds.

Although the outcome of the uprisings was free elections, the primary motivation for rebels—including youth– in both countries was economic grievances, and to a lesser extent anger about corruption, rather than a desire for democracy. In Egypt, the second greatest motivation was they were against Mubarak’s son Gamal as heir to the throne. Being unemployed wasn’t a significant predictor of participation in either country and the poorest people had the lowest rate of participation. For the minority of rebels who prioritized democracy, in Egypt they were likely to have participated in civil society associations, while in Tunisia they had higher levels of income. Few in either country wanted an Islamic regime, but the participants were not less religious than non-activists in the sample. The fact that democracy was not the top goal helps explain why Islamic parties were elected in both countries.

Despite young people’s beliefs that they made the revolution, a Harvard scholar agreed with the Princeton scholars that increasing support for democracy by the middle class was the main force behind the revolution.[ii] Ishac Diwan based his conclusion on the 2000 and 2008 World Value Surveys that showed “little inter-generational differentiation” in Egypt by 2008. Support for democracy jumped from 24% to 52% over the survey period. He believes that class has more impact than other explanations for increasing support for democracy and thus the Arab Spring: modernization (secular rational values), the youth bulge (associated with less democracy and more political violence), splits within the governing coalition as when the army supported the uprising, political Islam, or conflict between the rich and the poor over resources with the latter in favor of democracy.

Diwan argues that the middle class was motivated by the rise in skilled unemployment and frustration over economic inequality to abandon support for the regime. He included educated youth in the middle class and their more modern views. He concludes, “While the movement towards democratization was initiated by the youth, it spread among the poor and especially the middle class by 2008,” partly due to the Muslim Brotherhood’s support of democracy starting with the 2005 elections.

Two other academics use their data to emphasize the impact of expansion of education and rising expectations combined with job scarcity.[iii] This combination creates discontent, plus an unresponsive autocratic government, equals the uprising of the Arab Spring. The key role of education is enhanced by the finding that educated people are more likely to be politically active. A poll conducted in Egypt in April 2011 asked participants in the protests what motivated them—64% cited “low living standards/lack of jobs,” while only 19% mentioned lack of democracy. This seems to conflict with Diwan’s emphasis on class and desire for democracy although the middle class is more likely to be educated. When I asked him about this, he emailed, “My results do not contradicts theirs – I find that democracy is a means to an end, and that most people that shifted from support for “order” in 2000 to support for democracy in 2008 have done so because of their grievances.” Regarding youth, the co-authors state that the not-so-young group aged 25 to 39 were a bigger share of the population in countries where uprisings occurred and they suffered from the high unemployment rate. The authors suggest that this formula for revolution can be applied to other countries in the future.

[i] Mark Beissinger, Amaney Jamal, and Kevin Mazur, “Who Participated in the Arab Spring? A Comparison of Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions.” Princeton University, APSA conference paper, 2012.


[ii] Ishac Diwan, “Age or Class? Leading Opinions in the Wake of Egypt’s 2011 Popular Uprisings,” Youth Policy, December 2012.


[iii] Filipe Campante and Davin Chor, “Why was the Arab World Poised for Revolution?” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 26, No. 2, Spring 2012, pages 167-188.



Loss of non-violent activism in Egypt?

After two years of ongoing conflict with the Morsi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood, some young people turned to civil disobedience such as the general strike supported by around 10,000 people in Port Said the end of January, 2013. They were protesting the court’s rulings about the soccer riot the year before. Others gave up on non-violent protest after numerous accounts of police kidnapping, torture, beating, and aiming their bullets at the protesters’ eyes. The catalyst was the police attack on a peaceful sit-in at the Presidential Palace in Cairo in December 2012. Five—or some say 10–demonstrators were killed and sparked “a generation born of the blood of the martyrs.” The faces of these youths are painted on Cairo walls. Hassan, 20, an engineering student and co-administrator of a Facebook page, explained to a reporter, “After the palace events we saw that the Brotherhood were very organized. We had to organize ourselves. Basically, the idea is to defend the revolutionaries” and the spirit of the revolution.

A month later the Black Bloc announced its formation via the Internet. A video filmed in Alexandria at night with a hard rock audio background proclaimed its opposition to a religious dictatorship, a “fight against the fascist regime and their armed wing. Get ready for hell. Chaos against injustice.” Their Facebook page quickly got over 35,000 fans. The roots of Black Bloc go back to young people wearing black clothes and black mask who were willing to destroy property to protest nuclear plants (Germany, 1980s), the World Trade Organization (Seattle, 1990, broke windows and spray painted graffiti), and Black Bloc members breaking windows at Occupy demonstrations in the US (Oakland 2011). In Egypt, they’re not anarchists although some of their black flags carried in demonstrations include the letter “A” for anarchy. It includes female members.

Their goals are to change the new constitution with its attempt to institute Shariah law, to establish secular democracy instead of “fascist tyrants,” and to protect women, foreigners and others harassed on the streets. They make their own Molotov cocktails, firebombs, and grenades and some members have shotguns. The Black Bloc acknowledges attacks on Muslim Brotherhood offices in various cities on its multiple Facebook pages. It also has its own rap song. Black baklavas are sold on the streets for who ever wants to join the demonstrations. Some wear gas masks or Guy Fawkes masks used by the group Anonymous. A participant in the Jan25 uprising told reporter Jared Maslin, “I think whoever is behind them is very immature. All they’ve done is given the government more excuses to clampdown on protests.”[i]

Blogger Gigi Ibrahim concluded on a positive note, “People have found their voice, they are not afraid and they know their way onto the streets.” Much work remains as the military controls much of the economy, many officials are ex-generals, it is funded by over a billion dollars from the US each year, and insists on shaping the constitution to keep some of its power. Youth succeeded in making a revolution but not in long-term planning.

[i] Jared Malsin. “Egypt’s Black Bloc—An Exclusive Interview,” HBO Vice,

http://www.vice.com/read/we-met-some-members-of -egypts-black-bloc


Summary: Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World

Shereen El Feki. Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World. Pantheon Books, 2013.


For many in the Arab world, Western values include homosexuality, sex before marriage, mixing of the sexes, women’s liberation and pornography. They’re believed to undermine Islam and traditional Arab values, observed Shereen El Feki. She spent two years interviewing Arabs about sex for her book Sex and the Citadel.[i] The irony, she adds, is that discussion of sexual pleasure and “so much of what they brand as dangerous foreign ideas were features of the Arab-Islamic world long before they were embraced by Western liberalism.”[ii] She notes the fear of Western ideas was coupled with a feeling of inferiority that followed Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 and the British occupation from 1882 to 1952. The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s, Hassan al-Banna taught that part of the reason for loss of political power was Egyptian’s sexual immorality and that the solution was to follow Shaira law. (Surveys indicate about a third of Arab young men are sexually active before marriage, compared to about 20% of young women).[iii]

Most Egyptian young women now cover their hair, while their mothers and grandmothers didn’t and could wear short skirts without being harassed. In the 1960s and ‘70s sex was an accepted aspect of films until the rise of Islamic conservatism and official censorship. A return to Islamic fundamentalism was a form of protest against dictatorship, the most extreme form taught by the Salafi movement. Soon after Mubarak was dethroned, Salafi squads of morality police—similar to those in Saudi Arabia—correcting hand-holding couples, etc.

She found a general lack of sex education by either family or schools, leading to many complaints about sexual satisfaction, supported by larger surveys of Egyptians.[iv] Widespread female genital mutilation doesn’t help. A Population Council survey of more than 15,0000 young people under age 30 found that 82% of female respondents are circumcised, with a declining rate for younger girls, although most respondents (64%) think it’s a necessary custom.[v]  It’s considered necessary to cool women’s sexual desire so she won’t want sex before marriage or be too demanding of her husband. Most young people don’t discuss puberty and sex with their parents.

El Feki suggests that authoritarian government requires the same kind of patriarchal family life where the father rules and sex before marriage is controlled and prohibited. Although the nation overthrew its father figure, “the nation’s young people may find that it’s more difficulty to move away from home than it was to get Mubarak out of office.” [vi] More than three-quarters of both young men and women believe that a woman must obey her husband’s orders and two-thirds agreed that wife battery is justified in some situations. When asked about what they were looking for in a spouse, number one was “polite,” meaning well brought up, followed by being religious. Education is also valued for both sexes. Expressions of love are not common between spouses, despite being sung about in popular songs and music videos.[vii] The main focus on the first year of marriage is producing a child. El Feki reports that media—women’s magazines, TV talk shows, newspapers and the Internet—frequently talk about “the trouble with marriage. It’s hard to see how democracy can flourish in a society if its constitutional and cultural cornerstone in the family is so undemocratic.”[viii]

[i] Shereen El Feki. Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World. Pantheon Books, 2013, p. 6.

[ii] Ibid., p. 294.

[iii] Ibid., p. 97.

[iv] Ibid, p. 50.

[v] “Survey of Young People in Egypt,” Population Council, 2010.

Click to access 2010PGY_SYPEPrelimReport.pdf

[vi] Ibid., p. 287.

[vii] El Feki, p. 63.

[viii] Ibid., p. 91


What’s on the Minds of Arab Youth 18 Months After the Revolutions: A 2012 Survey

Need for financial security may trump desire for democracy, as evidenced in 2012 interviews with 2,500 Arab youth, ages 18 to 24 (60% male). The emphasis on democracy dropped from 68% to 58% in 2012; however in Egypt 75% of youth view it as very important. Youth unemployment in the region is 25%, the cost of living is rising and foreign investment is decreasing. A year after the Arab Spring, top priority changed from wanting to live in a democracy to desire for fair pay (82% said it is very important) and wanting to own a home (65%). This goal of homeownership is similar to a large survey of 25,000 young people in 2010 cited elsewhere, indicating a global desire for security in recession. The other country where they would most like to live is modern UAE with its high standard of living and a ruling family. Youth point to the two biggest obstacles facing them and the region as lack of democracy and civil unrest, so they’re still very focused on liberty. (Their second biggest concern is the danger of drugs.) There are much more likely to keep up with the news and to blog on the Internet than before the revolutions. Despite economic troubles, like young people elsewhere, Arab youth are optimistic about their futures. In Egypt, optimism jumped from 38% in 2011 to 74% in 2012.

How do Arab youth evaluate the revolutions a year after? Favorably. In 2012 interviews with 2,500 Arab youth from throughout the Middle East, ages 18 to 24 (60% male), 72% feel strongly that the region is better off because of the Arab Spring and 68% feel they are personally better off. Eighteen months after the beginning of the Arab Spring, they report that their government has become more transparent, although they’re more concerned about corruption than in interviews the year before the uprisings. Egyptian youth are especially concerned about corruption as the biggest problem (66%). An amazing jump from 18% in 2011 to 62% the following year say they follow the news daily and the number to blog has increased from 29% to 61%. Despite their positive views about the democracy movements, only 24% believe that protest movements will spread to other countries. Despite all the turmoil after ousting the dictators, youth are still supportive of democratic change.

Muslim countries have traditional values, but even there some change is occurring. In 2012 interviews with 2,500 Arab youth in 12 countries, ages 18 to 24 (60% male), 65% agree that “traditional values are paramount” down from 83% who agreed in 2011. The most traditional countries are Libya, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. The percent who believe these values are outdated is increasing, including 44% of youth from Tunisia, 42% in Iraq, 41% in Jordan and Qatar. When asked about their top concerns, in Oman 52% say they are very concerned about opportunities for women.

“A White Paper on the Findings of the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012,”  Interviews with 2,500 Arab youth ages 18 to 24 (60% male) in 12 countries.



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