Egypt marks 4th anniversary of Rabaa massacre

Published 13.08.2017 20:57
Updated 14.08.2017 10:57

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Rabaa massacre in Egypt where hundreds of people were killed for protesting against the military coup and defending democracy and their democratic rights. Egypt witnessed a massacre in Cairo's Rabaa Square that was unprecedented in its modern history. Egyptian security forces fired on people with live ammunition, killing many. Huge crowds were in Rabaa Square protesting the military coup and at around 6:00 a.m. protesters were praying in the square and in the Adawiyya Mosque, which was heavily damaged by government forces.

On July 3, 2013, the first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, was toppled after a bloody military coup, headed by the incumbent president and former General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Morsi was accused of deteriorating the Egyptian economy, aiding Hamas, spying for certain countries and polarizing society. People who were against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets at the end of June to protest the Islamist government. After the protests started, the army sided with the protesters and gave an ultimatum to Morsi, saying he had to resign in two days' time. Morsi stressed the fact that he had been elected and only another election could remove him.

The army did not accept Morsi's argument. While the tensions escalated in Cairo among different factions and the army, the people on the streets also expressed different demands. Sit-in protests to show solidarity with Morsi started even before the anti-Morsi protests. Despite the support of the masses, the army overthrew Morsi and his cabinet, violating the constitution and universal democratic values. Morsi and many other prominent political figures that were also either members of the Muslim Brotherhood or connected to it were arrested. The pro-Morsi and pro-democracy protesters did not leave the streets. They chanted slogans against el-Sissi and the coup. El-Sissi claimed that the protesters were threatening national security while making a call to his supporters to go to Tahrir Square. He finally gave the order to clear Rabaa Square, which had become the pro-Morsi protesters' main area. Aug. 14, 2013 has been labeled one of the worst days in Egyptian history.

The Rabaa massacre ignited anger around the world and today, thousands of people not only in Egypt but also in Turkey and Indonesia, organize demonstrations to condemn the bloody attack on the peaceful and unarmed protesters. While the Muslim Brotherhood claims that the death toll was more than 1,500, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said there were at least 817 deaths.

Since the ousting of Morsi and his cabinet, hundreds of thousands of people have been jailed and several political parties, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and journalism associations have been shut down. Egypt has been dragged into a chaotic and unstable situation, losing its significance in the realm of regional politics because of its increasing dependence on the Gulf states, which supported el-Sissi economically. The returning of two islands to Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea has sparked debates in the country, yet the low voices of the opposition have been silenced immediately.

Besides, its mistaken energy policies and the discovery of natural gas in the Mediterranean by Israel have caused the failure of sufficient, proper supplies of energy. The emergence of Daesh-affiliated groups in the Sinai has led to security problems and the country has faced dozens of terror attacks in recent years. One of the attacks was the downing of a Russian plane by Daesh that resulted in sharply decreased tourism revenues. Several attacks on Coptic churches have also fueled sectarian tension.El-Sissi and his government have made big promises to improve the economy as the country struggles to cope with considerable poverty. Yet, their promises have so far failed.

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