A nation’s history is made up of critical moments that define it and create its place in world history. With its seven-millennia history, Egypt has experienced hundreds if not thousands of such historic moments, many of which did not only impact the Egyptian nation and the region, but also changed the wider world. The 30 June Revolution in 2013 was one of those defining moments.
A year before the 30 June Revolution took place, the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group had managed to take a tight grip on power in the country, sending it into uncharted waters.
The Brotherhood and its Islamist allies were not content in holding most of the seats in parliament, however. It also took power in a controversial presidential election that witnessed rigging across the country.
Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi became president in some of the most-troubled times in Egypt’s modern history.
It did not take long before Morsi started to implement his divisive policies, which aimed to enable the Islamists to grab hold of the country as a whole.
He started by decimating the Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, purging it of the opposition including former judge Tahani Al-Gebali, Egypt’s first woman judge.
However, the epitome of the crisis came on 22 November 2013 when Morsi issued an edict granting his executive orders immunity from being contested in a court of law, which is the standard practice in Egypt.
Morsi thus granted himself absolute power as president in a way that had never happened since the formation of the Egyptian Republic in 1954. In other words, he rendered the Constitutional Declaration of March 2011 null and void, believing he had outsmarted all opposition to his rule.
Yet, Morsi was not protecting himself by tampering with the constitution, and instead he was breaching the contract between him and the nation which was his only protection.
He was thus making his presence as president unconstitutional after 22 November 2012. The moment Morsi committed his horrendous political act, he forfeited the protection of the constitution under which he had been elected.
The first wave of protests against his rule started after this edict, displaying the people’s anger at Morsi’s power grab.
A few months later, the largest grassroots opposition movement ever seen in Egypt, Tamarod, managed in record time to gather 22 million signatures demanding that Morsi accept new elections and calling for a massive uprising to take place against him on 30 June 2013.
Morsi’s insistence on grabbing yet more power only speeded up his end, as he refused all calls for negotiation by politicians and army alike, insisting that he was the country’s absolute ruler.
As a result, on 30 June 2013, the finest hour in Egypt’s modern history took place when 33 million Egyptians rallied across the nation from Alexandria to Aswan demanding that the Islamist president step down.
This was a show of people’s power unprecedented in modern history. People took to the streets in an unprecedented show of solidarity and in the name of patriotism and freedom.
It took only three days for Morsi and his Islamist regime to fall under pressure from the street and then the army, ending a dark chapter in the history of modern Egypt.
Egypt thus became the first predominantly Muslim country to oust an Islamist regime through a popular revolution, a feat never attained before in countries such as Iran, Turkey or Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The Egyptian people sent a message to the world that Egypt has been and always will be a secular state that cannot be swayed by religious fanatics and will continue to be a beacon of tolerance and progress in the region.
The price of this message was high, however, as thousands of people, including men, women and children of all creeds, died during the waves of terrorism that the Muslim Brotherhood launched across the country.
The military and the police have lost thousands of their finest and bravest in fighting these terroristic waves, and they are still under threat in North Sinai after the terrorist groups there have been dealt severe blows that have neutralised them across the rest of Egypt.
The Brotherhood has now been forced to operate from abroad, aided by terrorist-supporting regimes in Turkey and Qatar.
Before the 30 June Revolution, a significant portion of global public opinion was misled by Islamist lies, thinking that the Islamists could create a democratic system within their native societies.
It was because of the dictatorships in the Middle East that they had been stopped from developing democratic rule, they claimed. Turkey was cited as an example of the success of the Islamists in embracing democracy, though later it was shown that the Turkish Islamist experience was destructive to Turkey and its neighbours.
The blood baths orchestrated by tyrannical Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ambitions to restore the Ottoman caliphate have borne witness to his abuses of democracy to consolidate power.
Nine decades after the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, the majority of Egyptians have realised that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Political Islam groups are a man-made calamity that must be eradicated.
The 30 June Revolution served as a first step towards that goal. The high price paid by the Egyptian people as a result of their historic act of defiance of the Brotherhood has changed the tide of history and ended the gains of the Islamists in the Middle East, including in Tunisia, Libya and Syria.
Global public opinion towards the Muslim Brotherhood has also changed, all the more so since the manifestations of the Islamists’ fabled caliphate were established on the ruins of Iraq and Syria in the wake of attacks by the Islamic State (IS) group.
The atrocities committed by this group in these countries and its splinter cells across the world were a rude awakening to those who believed that the Islamists could be democratic once they reached the seat of power.
The celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the 30 June Revolution this year remind all Egyptians of their great achievement that changed the region and the world.
It was modern Egypt’s finest hour because the Egyptians stood up against an enemy that was not simply a foreign invader, but also a way of thinking that had crept into society and spread terrorism and violence.
This was the hour when the majority of Egyptians decided that they could no longer be beguiled by such fanaticism. In the same country that witnessed the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 and saw the spread of its terrorist rhetoric across the globe, that organisation finally saw the beginning of its end.
Egyptians once more changed the course of history, in line with their power and their destiny.
The writer is a political analyst and author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 June 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly with headline: Egypt’s finest hour