In 2011, the Arab Spring ushered in hope for Democracy in Egypt. Hosni Mubarak fell from power, and the people took to the streets, excited about the prospects of free elections.
Since then, those elections have taken place, and the people picked Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi. Now, the military has deposed him. His supporters took to the streets and the Egyptian military began a crackdown that has resulted in the death of hundreds.
Some say that the military takedown of Morsi is unjustified, while others say that he was a dictator and had to go. One of the arguments in the United States is over whether the military's actions should be considered a coup, or if this is simply a people's uprising.
Mbaye Lo, an assistant professor in Duke’s department of Asian and Middle Eastern studies described the situation as tense and complicated… not something that can easily be divided into black and white.
“The killing of innocent people is a criminal act that needs to be investigated locally and internationally,” he said. “But focusing on coup versus popular unrest, I think is shallow and unproductive.”
Regardless of definitions, one thing is for sure, the situation in Egypt is violent and more people are dying every day.
Yakein Abdelmagid, an Egyptian studying cultural anthropology at Duke University, just returned to North Carolina from his home country. He described the situation to Host Frank Stasio on The State of Things.
“There is definitely high levels of violence, and I would say there is lack of any kinds of political negotiations or any thoughts of how to get out of this,” he said, adding later, “It throws us back into a very confusing moment about the future of Egypt.”
Egyptian born writer Samia Serageldin had high hopes for her former country during the Arab Spring, but now she worries about what will happen next.
She once thought the country had a brighter future, but now she wonders if it escaped Mubarek two years ago, only to be thrust into an even darker predicament.
“I feel that Egypt now is scrambling out of the fire into the frying pan, or it could be scrambling out of the frying pan into the fire,” she said. “I’m not sure which.”
Ellen McLarney, an assistant professor of Arabic literature and culture at Duke said the coup is a damaging blow for Democracy in Egypt, one, from which, it may never recover.
“It look like now with the military taking over, they’re not going to want a democratic process taking over because then the Islamists could come to power again,” she said.