Five years after the millions-strong grassroots uprising that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from ruling Egypt along with its president Mohamed Morsi, the country continues to suffer from the strains precipitated by a rebellion against an Islamist organisation that had leveraged itself to power behind a democratic façade while its actual practices during its year in power foreshadowed a form of totalitarianism that would have had disastrous consequences for Egypt.
After the successful overthrow of the nascent Muslim Brotherhood theocracy in the 30 June 2013 Revolution, various Islamist groups vowed revenge against the Egyptian people and their new political authorities.
For months, these sustained a campaign of terrorist attacks across the country in the hope of turning the clock back and forcing the reinstatement of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.
Egypt paid dearly in the face of this onslaught in the form of civilian lives, attacks against Christian churches throughout the country, and sacrifices among the Armed Forces and police.
However, the Egyptian people demonstrated their extraordinary capacity for social cohesion as the political forces finalised the new constitution and prepared for the presidential elections in 2014.
In this special section, Al-Ahram Weekly brings together a variety of articles that combine to form a fuller picture of where Egypt stands today, five years after the grassroots uprising that has been so poorly understood in the West.
The West's sometimes negative image of Egypt, largely generated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s massively funded propaganda and lobbying machinery that operates through a network of interwoven interests with governments and influential circles abroad, is one reason why it has been necessary to offer readers an alternative and deeper view of what has happened in the country in recent years.
Journalist Gamal Essam El-Din opens the section by laying out a range of views from various political figures on the successes of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in delivering many of the objectives of 30 June revolution and the challenges he faces to move forward on the rest.
Parliamentarians and others figures discuss the government's achievements over the last four years in confronting terrorism and extremist ideologies; providing urgent public services while implementing economic reform.
They also highlight some of the challenges the government still faces in strengthening security and creating a more stable, democratic system.
Journalist Amina Khairy provides a comprehensive overview of the socio-political, economic and security deterioration before the 30 June Revolution and proceeds to discuss how Egypt addressed the processes of economic reconstruction and socio-political modernisation needed to put paid to the legacy of charlatanism that the Islamist forces had used to gain control over the country’s public life.
The Egyptian government has prioritised educational reforms and the renovation of religious discourse. Although this process has encountered some stiff resistance among certain segments of society, President Sisi and his government have pressed forwards, aware of the need to reshape the public sphere in a manner that closes avenues for extremist forces bent on exploiting religion to achieve their ends.
Political scientist Ammar Ali Hassan and investigative journalist Hanan Haggag take up the subject of these forces by focusing on crucial aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hassan examines the ideas of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna and how these laid the ideological foundations for the jihadist Islamist groups that proliferated in the late 20th century.
He establishes that the original Muslim Brotherhood sowed the seeds for organised violence in the name of religion and that Brotherhood ideologue Sayed Qotb was not a departure, but rather a product, of Al-Banna’s teachings. This contrasts with the prevalent tendency in Western academic and political circles to disassociate Al-Banna’s ideas from violence.
Haggag examines how the Muslim Brotherhood exploited the weapon of the Muslim Brotherhood Sisters in its attempts at resuscitation after its reverberating fall five years ago.
She explores how the organisation has availed itself of this weapon in the past in times of crisis, while never developing anything resembling a progressive or modern approach to women’s rights, as is reflected in its internal hierarchy. For the secretive Muslim Brotherhood, long habituated to working underground, women have always been no more than instruments meant to serve political ends.
Lastly, experts from the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies discuss Egypt’s north-eastern, southern and western borders in terms of their particular characteristics and the challenges involved in safeguarding them against the unprecedented levels of threat posed by militant Islamist groups as well as by smuggling activities today.
30 June: The legacy
Egypt marks the fifth anniversary of the 30 June Revolution amid a host of political and economic challenges, writes Gamal Essam El-Din
Eyes on the future
The 30 June 2013 Revolution that ended Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt is the best thing that has ever happened to millions of Egyptians and Arabs, writes Amina Khairy
The roots of Brotherhood violence
While some Muslim Brotherhood members today are calling for a return to the ideas of the organisation’s founder Hassan Al-Banna, in truth his views merely explain its long-standing use of violence, writes Ammar Ali Hassan
MB’s exploitation of women
The attitude of the Muslim Brotherhood towards its female members has always swung between proscription and exploitation despite its paying lip-service to giving women more substantial roles, writes Hanan Haggag
Policies to develop the southern zone
Despite long historical ties, the border between Egypt and Sudan remains an issue beset by periodic tensions, writes Amira Abdel-Halim
Egypt’s western border and the security dilemma
While Egypt has firmed up security on its western border, the crisis in Libya sustains border threats, writes Ahmed El-Beheiri
Multi-faceted policies for problematic borders
Of all of Egypt’s borders, the northeast border with Gaza/Israel remains the most strategically delicate, writes Mohamed Gomaa
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 June 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: 30 June: Five years on