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New ‘rebellion’ seeks to oust Egypt’s Morsi

Activists in Egypt have launched a new “rebellion” – this time against President Mohammed Morsi – and they are collecting signatures demanding his ouster rather than taking to the streets. The campaign, called Tamarod (rebellion in Arabic), has received massive support and is the biggest non-violent protest action against Morsi’s rule. Launched about two weeks back, the petition campaign calls for early presidential elections. By Sunday, it had gathered more than 2 million signatures across the country.

“The campaign is part of the popular movements on the streets, and a reflection that the youth revolution did not end,” independent analyst Kamal Zakher said. Before the end of June, the organisers of Tamarod aim to collect 15 million signatures – that number will be higher than the votes Morsi got in last year’s election. With 13.2 million votes, Morsi won by 51.7 per cent against Ahmed Shafiq, who was the last premier to serve under ousted president Hosny Mubarak.

On June 30, when Morsi marks one year in power, the activists plan to take their petition and protest in front of the Ittihadiya presidential palace in north-eastern Cairo. “Since he arrived in power, ordinary citizens feel that no revolution goal was achieved he achieved neither security nor social justice and proved that he is a total failure and is not capable of ruling a country like Egypt,” read the text on the petition.

Zakher believes the campaign is important as a message to pressure the government to change its “ruling tools, instead of recreating [that of] the old regime.” He said: “Legally and constitutionally speaking, the signatures will not lead to anything, but they remain a strong means of change.” Ahmed Rami, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, described the campaign as “an attack on the ballot boxes.”

He said it disrespects the people’s choice, which was reflected in the elections and the constitution passed in a national referendum in December. Rami told MBC Masr satellite channel this week that those behind the campaign “do not represent the revolution,” while the current government is working on achieving the revolution’s goals.

A spokesman for Tamarod, Mahmoud Badr, told reporters: “We are working in the streets, we are working with the people, we will not fail.” Badr added: “We will have the people by our side and the street will always be the solution and the alternative.” Morsi’s challenges have only grown along with the increasing security and economic problems in the country. Crime rates have soared in the past two years.

The country’s fiscal health looks increasingly dire and in April an International Monetary Fund delegation was in Cairo to discuss a potential 4.8-billion-dollar loan. A poll conducted by the private Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) think tank shows that only 30 per cent of Egyptians would re-elect Morsi if elections are held soon.

Morsi’s approval ratings were 78 per cent at the end of his first 100 days in power. While few Egyptians had expected Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood to produce quick fixes to Egypt’s longstanding problems, the prolonged crisis is starting to erode what remains of their image as a credible alternative to Mubarak.

Since the campaign is self-funded, activists have been photocopying the petitions and taking them to cafes, traffic lights and street gatherings to encourage more people to sign. They have more than 5,000 volunteers. Expatriate Egyptians have also been sending their signed petitions to the organisers. The campaign has received support from the opposition National Salvation Front as well as prominent opposition figures.

On Monday, prominent activist Ahmed Douma signed the petition while behind bars during a court hearing. Douma is held in a cell during his court appearances and is facing trial for insulting Morsi. Douma is the first activist to be tried on this charge, after he called Morsi a criminal. Other activists and media professionals, including famous satirist Bassem Youssef, have been questioned for the same accusation.

One of Douma’s lawyers, Sayed Fathi, said that he signed the campaign to highlight the “bad state” Egypt has reached under Morsi’s rule. “Every thing is connected. Arrests have increased, the economy deteriorated and political freedoms are declining.” Fathi added: “None of the revolution’s goals have been achieved, things are getting worse than the Mubarak era.”

Nehal El-Sherif, "New ‘rebellion’ seeks to oust Egypt’s Morsi," Business recorder. 2013-05-16.
Keywords: Political issues , Political process , Political leaders , Political change , Youth revolution , Revolution , President Morsi , Egypt