Vast Crowds Turn Out in Egypt to Oust Their Hardliner Muslim President

Sunday’s massive protests in Egypt were unprecedented, of a scale not even seen during 2011′s Arab Spring.

(Amr Nabil – AP)

The protesters aimed to show by sheer numbers that the country has irrevocably turned against [President Mohamed] Morsi, a year to the day after he was inaugurated as Egypt’s first freely elected president. But throughout the day and even up to midnight at the main rallying sites, fears of rampant violence did not materialize. Instead the mood was largely festive.

This footage, taken from a high vantage point, shows the ocean of humanity that spilled onto Cairo’s streets yesterday. The zoom goes wider and wider and still there are protesters edge to edge.YouTube Preview Image

According to CBS News:

For weeks, Morsi’s supporters have depicted the planned protest as a plot by Mubarak loyalists. But their claims were undermined by the extent of Sunday’s rallies. In Cairo and a string of cities in the Nile Delta and on the Mediterranean coast, the protests topped even the biggest protests of the 2011′s 18-day uprising, including the day Mubarak quit, Feb. 11.

“Mubarak took only 18 days although he had behind him the security, intelligence and a large sector of Egyptians,” said Amr Tawfeeq, an oil company employee marching toward Ittihadiya with a Christian friend. Morsi “won’t take long. We want him out and we are ready to pay the price.”

At least 400 people did, many by getting shot. Up to a dozen may have died.

In the city of Assiut, a stronghold of Islamists, gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a protest in which tens of thousands were participating, killing one person, wounding four others and sending the crowd running.

The enraged protesters then marched on the nearby Freedom and Justice offices, where gunmen inside opened fire, killing two more, security officials said.

Two years ago, the protests of the Arab Spring caused a lot doubt and ambiguity among Western observers. You could sympathize with the Egyptian people’s desire to rid themselves of the thuggish Hosni Mubarak, while worrying that government power would fall into the hands of Allah-worshipping fundies — which it did. This time around, it’s easier to cheer on the protesters; virtually none were out in force yesterday claiming that the government wasn’t Islamist enough. That’s progress.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Rain

    What a lovely name for a political party. Strategically speaking, it estranges half of their constituents (the sisterhood). I’m not sure if it’s a good strategy or not. Probably not, lol. Nobody ever said they were rocket scientists.

  • Cyrus Palmer

    Good for them. Keep fighting until you’re free!

  • Spuddie

    The Egyptian Army has been very cool to the Islamicists. Ultimately it was their abandonment of Mubarak which got him out of power. I can see them doing the same to Morsi.

    • Yoav

      Last night the military gave Morsi a 48 hours ultimatum to reach an understanding with the protesters, it’s not really clear what would happen when he doesn’t but there is a possibility that the military would decide to take over which would be basically the return of the old regime which came to power by a military coup back in the 50′s. While I still hope the more liberal elements of Egyptian society manage to create a functional democracy I’m not overly optimistic at the moment since the two well organized powers, the military and the islamists are both authoritarians.

      • Spuddie

        I get the feeling the military doesn’t want to run things themselves if they can help it. Otherwise they would have done so to replace Mubarak with one of their own.

        But on the upside it gives a message that they are unwilling to use their forces against the protesters.

        Maybe I am just being an optimist.

        • Yoav

          The military need to balance their desire to keep their economic empire which consist of about 20% of the entire Egyptian economy which mean they need to stay in power either overtly or behind the scenes. Morsi had made some attempts to get his people into the military command which has so far not been successful. They also want to keep the billions in US military aid that was part of Egypt’s take from jumping the soviet ship and switching sides in the cold war which mean they have to be careful not to look to bad on western TV. The situation at the moment is so unstable that making predictions as to which way things will go is pretty much impossible, personally I tend to be pessimist but I sure hope I’m wrong.

  • pierre

    Do we have good reason to believe that a significant amount of the objection to Morsi is his strong Islamic bent? I’d like to think so, but I’m just asking as someone who hasn’t been following the Egyptian developments very closely.

    • Geoff Boulton

      I bumped into an Egyptian friend a little while ago and he told me that the Arab spring had all been for nothing with the ascendancy of Morsi and the Islamic Brotherhood. He was devastated seeing what was happening to his country after the sacrifices made by so many in the fight against Mubarak. I also hope the current protesters feel the same way.

  • moother

    That’s progress? Like the Dutch lady that got raped in the middle of Tahrir Square this weekend? I think not.

    These fools voted that idiot into office in the first place. They should have considered how to cast their vote and not just scratch the first party with a reference to allah.

  • Bdole

    A mob is not democracy. Out of a country of 80million+, even a million protestors would be about 10% and this probably wasn’t even close to 1M. It’s not representative, especially given the unemployment rate. A large turnout in a country full of employed people means something different from one where there are lots of young, restless people with nothing to do and no prospects. The most this should lead to is a referendum on Morsi’s presidency and a recall-type vote. I won’t hold my breath about the results of the latest chapter in the so-called Arab Spring. The next guy will do the exactly the same thing. It’ll be Haiti at best, with a coup ever few years as each new power-grabber fails to lead.

    • Gus Snarp

      I agree. I don’t know enough about what’s really going on with Morsi to have a strong opinion on him, though the association with the Muslim Brotherhood and the signs of autocratic style of rule are troubling, I don’t believe mob rule is the answer. What’s needed is a democratic solution and a strong, secular constitution. I also feel like you simply do not have a truly democratic nation or constitution until you have a secular one. Protests may help you get there, but if every elected leader is ousted by protest, you’ll never get a stable, functional democracy of any kind.

    • wombat

      Reports say it was somewhere around 17 million. It’s a pretty big chunk of the population out on the streets.