Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Egyptians are fed up with Morsy

By Frida Ghitis, Special to CNN
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
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
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:46 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
updated 3:06 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Simon Tisdall: Has John Kerry's recent track record left Russia's wily leader ever more convinced of U.S. weakness?
updated 12:40 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Mel Robbins says Nate Scimio deserves credit for acting bravely in a frightening attack and shouldn't be criticized for posting a selfie afterward
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Dr. Mary Mulcahy says doctors who tell their patients the truth risk getting bad ratings from them
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Peggy Drexler says the married Rep. McAllister, caught on video making out with a staffer, won't get a pass from voters who elected him as a Christian conservative with family values
updated 7:43 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
David Frum says the president has failed to react strongly to crises in Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, encouraging others to act out
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Eric Liu says Paul Ryan gets it very wrong: The U.S.'s problem is not a culture of poverty, it is a culture of wealth that is destroying the American value linking work and reward
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Frida Ghitis writes: "We are still seeing the world mostly through men's eyes. We are still hearing it explained to us mostly by men."
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Chester Wisniewski says the Heartbleed bug shows how we're all tangled together, relying on each other for Internet security
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Danny Cevallos says an Ohio school that suspended a little kid for pointing his finger at another kid and pretending to shoot shows the growth in "zero tolerance" policies at school run amok
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT