Egypt’s army killed at least 51 supporters of outsted president Mohamed Mursi on Sunday of last week.
Mass demonstrations across Egypt saw over 17 million people march on 30 June, calling on Mursi to go.
These piled pressure on the army, which removed him on Wednesday of last week. Mursi’s supporters are now camped outside the building where he is said to be held.
The army’s takeover was more than the simple military coup much of the media are describing it as. It does not signal the “end of democracy.”
The unprecedented mass rallies were the fullest expression of a movement from below demanding real change.
Mursi was elected on the back of a popular revolution—but he didn’t deliver anything for those whose struggle made his presidency possible.
The monster demonstrations calling on Mursi to go were democracy in action. And after they peaked on 30 June it was clear they weren’t going away.
There were calls for a general strike, and strikes were planned for Thursday of last week. The army acted to try and block the deepening of the revolution.
Mahmoud Badr is an activist from the Rebel campaign, which organised the 30 June demonstrations.
He was summoned to meet armed forces officials who wanted to end the revolt. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, suggested a referendum on Mursi’s presidency.
Mahmoud responded, “You may be the general commander of the Egyptian army but the Egyptian people are your supreme commander, and they are ordering you to side with their will and call an early presidential election.”
Later that day el-Sisi announced that Mursi’s controversial constitution would be suspended temporarily and that there would be swift parliamentary and presidential polls.
He also declared Adly Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as an interim president.
Such is the relief that Mursi has gone that many protesters have been chanting, “The army and people one hand”.
But there are tensions. Some protesters understand the dangers of supporting the army and chant “The people overthrew the regime”.
Some protesters saw the clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood as welcome.
But the massacre has shocked people.
Such violence could be used against workers’ and protesters’ organisations if they are deemed a danger to the stability of the state in the future.
The shootings outside the barracks where Mursi is being held are a sign of the army displaying its strength and willingness to kill those who oppose it.
It is a dangerous development for the revolution. This is the same army that carried out the massacre at Maspero state TV station, where 28 mostly Christian Copts were killed.
It’s the same army that was responsible for the deaths of 79 “Ultra” football supporters at Port Said last year.
The revolution can only rely on the struggle from below if it is to win the demands of the revolution for “bread, freedom and social justice.”