Egypt

By Cyana Chilton

            Egypt’s uprising erupted on Jan. 25, 2011 when tens of thousands rallied to protest police abuse after months of growing unrest over the death in detention of young blogger and businessman Khaled Said. Unrest mounted daily at Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in other cities, eventually growing into a national demand for President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. Mass arrests, censorship of the Internet and the deaths of hundreds in confrontations with security forces failed to qualm dissent.

            On February 11, under pressure at home and the international community, Mubarak stepped down. He left a panel of generals in the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) in charge. Protests in Tahrir Square continued throughout the spring despite occasional violence, as the opposition called for the SCAF to cede power to elected officials. Lawsuits were brought against Mubarak, his sons, and various members of his regime. The SCAF slowly opened the political arena to opposition groups, including the formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood, which formed a political party.

            Two Islamist parties won over 70 percent in phased parliamentary elections held between November 2011 and January 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood won 47 percent of the seats; a Salafi party won another 25 percent. The SCAF had ordered the lower house of parliament to be dissolved on a technicality.

            The Muslim Brotherhood candidate also won a two-stage presidential election held in May and June. In the final run-off, Mohammed Morsi narrowly beat Ahmed Shafiq, a former general and Mubarak’s final prime minister. After Sinai militants attacked a government outpost, killing 16 soldiers, Morsi fired key SCAF officials, including Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and chief of staff Sami Enan.

            On Sept. 11, 2012 thousands of Egyptians protested an anti-Islam film made in the United States and demonstrators breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. President Obama expressed concern to President Morsi about Egypt’s slow response. Morsi then condemned the attack two days after the incident. Even after Morsi’s statement, protestors continued to surround the American compound and clashed with Egyptian police for two days.

            After months of tension, Egypt’s political crisis imploded July 3 when the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the only civilian president ever democratically elected in the Arab world’s largest country. The coup marked one of the most troubling turning points in modern Egyptian history, deepening the political schism.

Chronology 2011

Jan. 25 – Feb. 11: Organized on Facebook for a “Day of Revolution” on Jan. 25, tens of thousands of protesters nationwide call for President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. The government shuts down the Internet and blocks cell phone networks. Police kill hundreds of protesters over the next few weeks.

Jan. 27:  Anti-government activist Mohamed ElBaradei returns to Egypt. He later announces he will run for president.

Jan. 28: Mubarak makes his first television appearance. He fires his government and promises reform but says he will not step down.

Feb. 1: Mubarak promises to step down when his term expires in September and offers to negotiate with protesters, but protesters reject his concessions and call for his immediate resignation.

Feb. 7: After being detained on Jan. 27, Wael Ghonim, a regional manager for Google, is released and gives an emotional interview to DreamTV, a national television network. His interview goes viral. The government meets for the first time with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Feb .11: Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s intelligence chief and Vice President, announces that Mubarak is stepping down and imposes military rule that includes dissolving Parliament and suspending the constitution. Hundreds of thousands celebrate in Tahrir Square. The U.S. withdraws support from Mubarak’s regime.

Feb. 14: The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) releases a six-month schedule to draft constitutional amendments and elect a new government.

Feb. 15: The Muslim Brotherhood announces it will form a political party, which it does on May 1.

Feb. 25 – 26: Protesters in Tahrir Square call for Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s resignation, Mubarak’s prosecution, and faster reform. Police beat and force them from the square. The SCAF later apologizes for the brutality.

March 1: The chief prosecutor prevents Mubarak and his family from leaving the country and seizes their assets.

March 4 – 6: Hundreds of protesters attack the State Security Investigations headquarters in various cities and look through documents.

March 23: A committee investigating violence during the revolution charges Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib al Adli with culpability in the killing of protesters.

April 1 – 12: In Tahrir Square, thousands demonstrate to demand Mubarak’s prosecution and faster reform.

April 13: Mubarak is hospitalized after suffering a reported heart attack. He and his two sons are arrested on suspicion of corruption.

May 13: Former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak is detained on suspicion of illegally acquiring wealth. She later surrenders $4 million of her assets to the government and is released on bail.

May 2: A police officer is sentenced to death for killing unarmed protesters, the harshest sentence given thus far. After government officials promise to meet with them, Coptic Christians end a two-week sit-in in Cairo to protest sectarian violence.

May 24: The World Bank announces that it will provide up to $4.5 billion in aid to Egypt.

May 27: In Tahrir Square, 100,000 people protest on a “Second Day of Rage.” The new government allows the first free passage out of the Palestine Authority, a policy change from Mubarak’s administration.

June 6: SCAF announces that local councils, often Mubarak-affiliated, will be disbanded within two weeks. They are dissolved by a court on June 29.

June 20: Mubarak’s lawyer says that the former president has cancer.

June 26: Mohamed ElBaradei releases a potential bill of rights for the new constitution.

June 26 – 29: After the trial of the former interior minister is postponed, police and thousands of protesters clash in Tahrir Square, the most intense violence since the initial uprising. The army intervenes on June 29.

July 1: Protesters call for faster reforms in Tahrir Square on a “Friday of Retribution.”

July 8: Dozens of Mubarak-era officials are charged with murder for their role in the January protests.

July 8 – August 1: Tens of thousands protest in Tahrir Square against the SCAF. The army forcibly clears the square on August 1.

July 13: The government fires almost 700 police officers for their role in the protests.

July 20: SCAF says that foreigners will not be permitted to monitor the parliamentary elections, and lowers the minimum candidate age to 25. It outlines the seat allocation system for parliamentary elections: some seats for individuals, others based on party lists.

July 24: The Salafis and the Gamaa al Islamiya reverse course and form political parties for the parliamentary elections, after initially announcing they would not participate.

Aug. 3: Mubarak’s trial begins.

Aug. 4: The Muslim Brotherhood holds the first public elections for its governing Guidance Bureau.

Aug. 5: The government dismantles a powerful trade union used by the Mubarak regime to quell labor activism.

Sept. 9 – October 28: Protests against the SCAF take place each Friday for several weeks in Tahrir Square.

Sept. 13: The military council reactivates an emergency law formerly used to stifle media dissent.

Sept. 16: Prime Minister Sharaf says Egypt’s peace deal with Israel is not “sacred.” The Egyptian ambassador is subsequently called to the Israeli foreign ministry to discuss Sharaf’s comments.

Sept. 26: SCAF announces amendments to electoral law, reserving two-thirds of parliamentary seats for candidates from party seats and one-third for individual candidates. Critics charge the move will ensure the military retains control over legislation. The Muslim Brotherhood threatens to boycott the elections.

Oct. 2: The military council agrees to permit foreign election observers and postpones the presidential election to the spring of 2012.

Oct. 27: Former PM Shafiq, a close Mubarak associate, says he will run for president.

Oct. 31: Prominent activist Alaa Abd al Fattah is arrested and charged with inciting violence against the military. Thousands in Tahrir Square protest his arrest.

Nov. 2: After a letter from imprisoned activist Alaa Abd al Fattah is published, the government announces the release of 334 political prisoners.

Nov. 18 – 29: Tens of thousands of Islamists and liberals protest draft “supra-constitutional principles” that would protect the military from parliamentary oversight in Tahrir Square.

Nov. 28: Phased parliamentary elections begin.

2012

Jan. 27: Calling for the transition of power from SCAF to a civilian government, tens of thousands rally in Tahrir Square. After the final round of elections in January, the Muslim Brotherhood wins 47 percent of parliamentary seats and Salafi Islamist parties take 27 percent of seats.

March 25: Liberal and leftist parties refuse to join a constitutional drafting group, fearing Islamist dominance. Coptic Christian representatives withdraw from the drafting group on April 2. A court later dissolves the group, questioning its legitimacy.

March 31: The Muslim Brotherhood nominates Khairat al Shater, its deputy leader, as a presidential candidate, after months of insisting it would not participate in the election. On April 6, Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s intelligence chief and vice president, announces his presidential candidacy. In all, 13 candidates vie for the presidency.

April 12: Parliament passes a bill to bar former top Mubarak officials from running for office for ten years. The next day, tens of thousands of Islamists protest against the candidacies of Mubarak-era officials. The election commission bars candidates Suleiman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s al Shater, and Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail from running for president on legal technicalities.

May 23 – 24: The top two winners in the first round of presidential election are Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and former Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

June 14: The Supreme Court decrees that the parliamentary election was unconstitutional. The SCAF then issues a decree dissolving parliament.

June 16: Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, wins a presidential runoff.

July 8: President Morsi orders the dissolved parliament to reconvene. The SCAF and Supreme Court dismiss his order. Two days later, Parliament briefly convenes.

Aug. 8: President Morsi fires intelligence chief Murad Muwafi, and asks Field Marshal Tantawi to dismiss other top security officers after Sinai militants storm an army post and kill 16 soldiers.

Aug. 12: President Morsi dismisses SCAF head Field Marshal Tantawi and SCAF chief of staff Sami Enan.

Aug.23: President Morsi passes a law banning the pre-trial detention of journalists.

Sept. 10: Over 100 American business leaders tour Cairo as part of an Obama administration effort to spur investment in Egypt.

Sept. 11: Thousands of Egyptians protest against an anti-Islam film and some breach the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. They destroy an American flag.

Sept. 12 – 13: President Obama expresses concern over the Egyptian government’s response to the situation in Cairo in a phone call with President Morsi. The following day Morsi explicitly denounces violent demonstrations and pledges to protect American citizens and property.

Sept. 14-15: Clashes around the U.S. Embassy break out between security forces and protestors after Friday prayers. Over 200 are injured and authorities arrest hundreds the following day.

Sept. 26: President Morsi addresses the U.N. General Assembly and calls for an end to fighting in Syria. He also discusses the Palestinian issue, nuclear proliferation, the anti-Islam film and the international financial system. 

Oct. 9: President Morsi issues a general pardon for political activists jailed since the 2011 revolution.

Oct. 11: The constitutional assembly unveils a new draft constitution that gives religion a more prominent role in the legislative and judicial process. Liberal and secular groups protest the insertion of Islam. Some ultraconservative Salafis also reject the document, arguing that it does not adequately enshrine Islamic law.

Nov. 5: Bishop Tawadros is chosen as the first new Coptic Christian pope. The previous pope, Shenouda III, had passed away in March 2012 after holding the position for 40 years.  

Nov. 15 – 21: President Morsi succeeds in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, following more than a week of fighting that left some 160 dead. The United States lauds Morsi’s efforts.

Nov. 22: President Morsi issues a controversial decree exempting himself from judicial supervision, and shielding the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council from dissolution by court order. The opposition condemns the moves and organizes protests. Several of Morsi’s 21 advisors resign.

Dec. 9: President Morsi issues a new constitutional declaration canceling his immunity from judicial oversight. But the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council remain safe from dissolution by court order. The opposition calls for a new round of protests as Morsi pushes forward the referendum on the draft constitution.

Dec. 5-26: Protests continue in opposition of the new draft constitution. Egypt holds a referendum on December 15 and 22. Nearly 64 percent of voters endorse the constitution. Morsi implements it on December 26 just hours after the results are announced. 

2013

Jan. 24 – 28: A Cairo court issues death sentences for 21 individuals involved in the February 2012 Port Said football riot that left 74 dead. The verdict sparks clashes between relatives of the convicted and security forces, leaving some 28 dead and 300 wounded.

April 15: Mubarak briefly appears in court for the first time since his June 2012 conviction. The court rules that he can no longer be imprisoned for complicity in the killing of some 900 protestors during the 2011 revolution. But Mubarak remains in custody pending an investigation into corruption charges.

April 19 – 22: Thousands of Morsi supporters protest on April 19, calling for the ouster of Mubarak-era officials from judicial posts. Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki resigns ahead of a cabinet reshuffle. He had reportedly threatened to quit in November 2012 after Morsi adopted expansive powers. 

April 28: The Tamarod, or “Rebel,” opposition movement calls for early presidential elections. It organizes a grassroots campaign to collect 15 million signatures for a petition withdrawing confidence from President Morsi by June 30 — his one-year anniversary in office.

May 7: President Morsi gives three ministerial posts to Muslim Brotherhood members, bringing the total number of Brotherhood ministers to 11 out of 35. 

May 16-22: President Morsi sends dozens of tanks and hundreds of soldiers to the Sinai on May 21 after seven security officers were kidnapped. The seven were released by their Islamist militant captors the following day.  

June 17 – 23: President Morsi appoints 17 new provincial governors, including seven Islamists. The most controversial appointee is the governor of Luxor, Adel al Khayat. He is a former member of the Islamist group Gamaa Islamiya, which claimed responsibility for killing 62 people, mostly foreign tourists, in 1997. The appointments lead to protests in several governorates clashes between Brotherhood supporters and opponents. Al Khayat announced his resignation on June 23.

June 27:  President Morsi marks one year in office by admitting mistakes and promising “radical and quick” reforms in a televised address. He also blames unnamed “enemies of Egypt” for trying to sabotage democracy. Morsi calls on his opponents to enter elections instead of imposing their will through protests.

June 30: Morsi rejects opposition calls for early presidential elections and his resignation, as millions take to the streets nationwide in rival demonstrations either demanding Morsi’s resignation or supporting him. Eight people are killed in clashes between the two groups outside Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo.

July 1: The Tamarod (Rebel) movement issues a statement giving Morsi until 5 p.m. the following day to resign or risk facing “complete civil disobedience.” Before the June 30 protests, Tamarod had reportedly collected up to 22 million signatures for its petition demanding early elections. Several ministers resign as demonstrations continue nationwide. General el Sisi callsthe Morsi government to resolve the political crisis within 48 hours or face military intervention. The Salafi al Nour Party calls for early elections.

July 2: Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed al Beltagui calls on Morsi’s supporters to oppose military action. President Barack Obama phones Morsi and urges him to listen to all Egyptians, including the demonstrators. Morsi refuses to step down in a late-night speech. He pounds on the podium while accusing Mubarak loyalists of trying to thwart democracy.

July 3: After a delay of several hours, Army chief el Sisi announces Morsi’s ouster and the appointment of Supreme Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour as interim president. El Sisi also suspends the constitution and says new elections would be held.

Morsi’s official Facebook page angrily denounced the coup. More than 14 people are killed in clashes between pro-government and anti-Morsi protestors after the army’s announcement. Top officials from Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party are also arrested. Some 300 arrest warrants are reportedly issued for Brotherhood members.

President Obama issues a statement expressing deep concern over the army removing Morsi and suspending the constitution. “I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters,” he says.

July 4:  Chief Justice Mansour was sworn in as interim president. He applauded youth for mobilizing the June 30 protests, calling them the embodiment of Egypt’s “conscience, its ambitions and hopes.”

July 5: Muslim Brotherhood supporters held “Day of Rejection” protests in major cities, as Mansour dissolved the upper house of parliament, the last legislative body.

July 6:  Political divisions emerge among the opposition over a new government, particularly the acceptability of Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister. The ultraconservative Salafi al Nour Party emerges as the political kingmaker.

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry condemns the violence in Egypt in a statement. “The only solution to the current impasse is for all parties to work together peacefully to address the many legitimate concerns and needs of the people,” he says.

July 8: At least 51 Morsi supporters are killed and more than 300 are wounded outside of the Republican Guard compound where Morsi was rumored to be held. Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al Haddad claimed that security forces opened fire while demonstrators were at pre-dawn prayers during a peaceful sit-in. The Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, calls for an uprising to protest the “massacre.” The army claims a “terrorist group” tried to storm the building.

July 9: Interim President Mansour appoints former Finance Minister Hazem el Beblawi interim prime minister and names ElBaradei vice president. The Brotherhood rejects Mansour's six-month timetable for amending the constitution and holding parliamentary elections. 

Oula Alrifai, Avideh Mayville, Helia Ighani and Garrett Nada contributed to these chronologies.

New Articles

 
 
 

 

Overview

The Islamists Are Coming is the first book to survey the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring.  Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties.  They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.

The Islamists Are Coming

Our Partner