June 19, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 984

First Anniversary Of Mursi's Presidency, On June 30, Expected To See Popular Protests Calling For His Ouster, Clashes Between His Opponents And Supporters

June 19, 2013 | By L. Lavi*
Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 984


June 30, 2013 will be the first anniversary of Mursi's presidency. As the day approaches, tensions are growing between the supporters and opponents of his administration, giving rise to increasing concern regarding possible clashes between the two sides. June 30 is expected to see large-scale demonstrations by the opposition movements against the regime. The protest is spearheaded by the Tamarrud ("Rebellion") campaign, a popular campaign initiated in May by the Kifaya opposition movement with the objective of collecting 15 million signatures on a petition of non-confidence in Mursi's regime. The campaign's success encouraged its initiators to plan the June 30 demonstrations, which, according to the demonstration coordinating committee, will call to oust the regime and hold early presidential elections.[1]

Among those calling for protests are also the National Salvation Front – an umbrella organization of Egypt's opposition forces led by Mohamed El-Baradei, 'Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi – as well as the Egyptian Judges' Club (a judges' association known for its opposition to the Mursi regime), the Black Bloc activists, the Ultras (politically active football clubs) and numerous media.[2] The protests are to include a march from the Tamarrud headquarters in Cairo to the presidential palace, a "popular trial" for Mursi by the Salvation Front youth, and the launching of a six-day sit-down strike in front of the palace.[3]

Banner by the committee coordinating the June 30 demonstrations: "The Revolution Returns" ( June 19, 2013)

A symbolic gallows on the district governor's building of Al-Menoufia and below it the Tamarrud poster: "Down with Mursi's Regime – June 30 [protest] in front of the palace" (Image: Al-Dustour Al-Asli (Egypt), June 19, 2013 )

Conversely, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is planning demonstrations of support for Mursi, to be held on June 21-30. Mursi and his movement reject the demand for early elections and describe Tamarrud as an illegitimate campaign that opposes the will of the Egyptian people, which elected Mursi democratically. The MB's planned demonstrations are supported mainly by the Salafi Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya movement, which has initiated a campaign of its own called Tagarrud ("Objectivity"), whose goal is to collect signatures in favor of Mursi's presidency.

The recent weeks have already seen violent clashes between Tamarrud activists and MB supporters in which one person was killed and dozens were injured. In addition, clerics have issued fatwas ruling that protesting against Mursi is an act of heresy or war on Islam, radical Islamists have expressed a willingness to die in Mursi's defense, and the MB website published an article in a similar vein, stressing the willingness of Mursi's supporters to lay down their lives to prevent his ouster. Statements from the opposition, that violence against the protesters will not pass without a reaction, have escalated the tension even further – so much so that press articles have voiced a concern about the possible outbreak of civil war in Egypt.

Mursi's recent appointment of seven provincial governors close to the MB caused the demonstrations against him to break out even earlier than expected, as his opponents took to the streets to protest the "Brotherhoodization" of Egypt, i.e., what they see as an MB takeover of the country.[4] Egypt's interior ministry initially promised that no police would be deployed among the protestors or in front of party headquarters and the presidential palace, but later announced that the police would secure all the protests;[5] the army announced it would not intervene.[6]

The following is a review of the anti- and pro-Mursi campaigns ahead of June 30, 2013.

The Tamarrud Campaign And Tagarrud Counter-Campaign

Tamarrud's official website describes it as "a popular campaign aimed at creating an atmosphere of rebellion and seeking a society that believes in freedom, justice, the goals of the revolution and revenge for the revolution's victims. The objective of the campaign is to collect 15 million signatures [expressing] non-confidence in Muhammad Mursi and to hold demonstrations on June 30 in front of the Al-Itihadiyya [presidential] palace."[7]

The campaign's Facebook page states: "It is incumbent upon us to rebel in light of the considerable deterioration that has occurred in the country and the dire economic and political situation that has prevailed since the MB and President Mursi came to power. [Mursi] has violated all the [principles] of justice, disregarding the revolution and the will of the people as though the revolution never occurred... The rule in Egypt has [simply] passed from [the hands of] one gang to [the hands of] another. The revolution has not realized its goals, nor the dreams of those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of a homeland [characterized by] national sovereignty, freedom and social justice... Therefore, we are obliged to announce a rebellion and the revival of the Egyptian people's revolution against all those who underestimated and destroyed the homeland's abilities, betrayed their [Egyptian] nation and its dream and cast aside its rights... We hereby announce a rebellion against the MB movement, and charge the Egyptian people to express non-confidence in Muhammad Mursi and to bring about an early presidential election without delay."[8]

In the course of two months of field work, the campaign activists established headquarters throughout Egypt, and collected signatures at numerous events and on the Internet.

Tamarrud Facebook page (!/Tmrood)

The Tamarrud petition on the campaign's Facebook page

According to an announcement by the coordination committee of the June 30 demonstrations, the goal of the protestors is to topple the regime. Specifically, the protestors demand that Mursi cede power to the Constitutional Court, which will hold new elections and oversee the drafting of a new constitution. They also demand the release of all political prisoners; a new trial for all citizens convicted by military courts; the dissolving of the Shura Council and a reexamination of all the laws it has passed; a reorganization of the Interior Ministry; economic reforms; the return of all funds that have been smuggled abroad; and measures to restore security, especially in Sinai.[9]

This popular campaign has been more successful than previous attempts by the political opposition, headed by the Salvation Front, to generate protests in the country. 'Imad Al-Din Sabr, a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, wrote: "After taking over the Internet, Facebook, and various media... after penetrating various parts of Egypt and being joined by parties and revolutionary forces, and after announcing it has collected millions of signatures in the last days – will the Tamarrud campaign... manage to achieve its goals? Early signs indicate that it has managed to get the attention of the citizens in Cairo and the various provinces and to spark concern in the MB and the presidency, after it managed to generate interest in the media and generate debate among political parties, revolutionary forces and youth movements opposed to Mursi's policy."[10]

On June 10, 2013, campaign spokesmen announced that it was nearing its goal of 15 million signatures and that they are thinking of submitting the petition to the Constitutional Court on June 30, 2013, as a symbolic gesture.[11]

Supporters of the campaign include the Salvation Front, as well as opposition-affiliated media such as the daily Al-Wafd and also the Black Bloc and the Ultras. The Salvation Front spokesman, 'Azazi 'Ali 'Azazi, said that the goal of the protests is to put the revolution back on track, and clarified that the front rejects all regime calls for dialogue, because these are aimed at convincing it to sit out the protests.[12] The Al-Wafd daily's website has a banner counting down the days until June 30.

"Rise up oh Egyptian! You have 12 days left to express non-confidence in Mursi"

The Black Bloc and the Ultras post messages on their Facebook pages calling on Egyptians to participate in the anti-Mursi protests:

Banner on Black Bloc Facebook page: "June 30 – Victory or Death"

Banner on Facebook page of "Tahrir Square Ultras": "Down with You!" (

In response to the success of the Tamarrud campaign, Sheikh 'Asem 'Abd Al-Magd, a member of the Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya Shura Council, launched a counter-campaign called Tagarrud, which is collecting signatures expressing confidence in Mursi. Though this campaign has not generated much media interest, Al-Magd claims that it has already collected some 10 million signatures.[13] Another pro-Mursi campaign called Muayid ("Supporter") has generated even less interest. Both campaigns call for a sit-down strike in front of the presidential palace and for demonstrations in Cairo and in the provinces on June 25-30 in solidarity with Mursi.[14]

Tagarrud Facebook page (

Tagarrud pro-Mursi petition (

Mursi: The Talk About Early Presidential Elections Is Illegitimate; We Will Not Permit Violence

In a June 7, 2013 interview with Al-Ahram editor 'Abd Al-Nasser Salama, Mursi referred to the anticipated events of June 30 and said: "Expressing an opinion, peaceful activity, full liberty for one and all, expressing a different opinion, constructive criticism, providing advice, public social activism and establishing parties – all these do not bother me, they even gladden me. But we will not permit law violations, recourse to violence or incitement to violence…" Regarding the demand for early presidential elections, he said: "We are a country that has a constitution and laws. We conducted free and fair elections, and the talk about early elections for the presidency is absurd and illegitimate… The matter contravenes the law and the constitution, accepted practice and the popular will."[15]

Addressing a conference in support of the Syrian revolution at Cairo Stadium on June 15, 2013, Mursi sharpened his tone against the June 30 demonstrations and stated: There are currently those who dream of destroying the January 25 Revolution and imagine that they can undermine the stability that is being constructed day after day, or to demolish the will of this people, that has made its opinion fully clear via legitimate democratic measures… They are trying to push the state into a maelstrom of violence and chaos. The supporters of the former regime and its remnants… dream of restoring the old regime and want to drive the country into violence and chaos…" Turning to the youth of the revolution, he said: "Don't get dragged down into violence… Don't respond to the provocations. Express your opinions in legitimate ways. We will work to preserve security and to arrest those violating the law…" Finally, he once again urged the diverse political forces to enter into dialogue with the regime, to prepare for the parliamentary elections and [to afford] stability that would allow Egypt to contend with the regional challenges confronting it, and above all the establishment of an Ethiopian dam on the Nile.[16]

According to opposition newspapers, the presidency is operating on several levels to thwart the success of the anticipated demonstrations against Mursi. For example, a Coptic human rights organization reports that the presidency pressured the Coptic Patriarch to ban Copts from participating in the demonstrations. Sources in the church denied the existence of any deal with the presidency on the matter, but made it clear that the church encouraged concentrating on spiritual activity and maintaining a distance from political activity.[17] The Egyptian daily Al-Misriyyoun reported that Egypt is pressuring the United States to coordinate a date for Mursi's visit to Washington and to publicize it prior to June 30, in order to convey a message of continued American support for the president.[18]

The Muslim Brotherhood: The Anti-Mursi Demonstrations Won't Obtain A Thing; The MB Is Organizing Counter-Demonstrations

Facing the Tamarrud campaign and the calls for June 30 demonstrations demanding Mursi's removal, the MB and its party came out in his defense. They expressed support for his position against advancing the presidential elections and made it clear that they would make no concessions to the opposition on June 30.[19] The MB expressed its derision for the Tamarrud campaign and its prospects for attaining its goals, and claimed that a large portion of the signatures on the opposition petitions were forged.

The Deputy Chairman of the MB party, Dr. 'Issam Al-'Arian, said that these demonstrations "won't obtain a thing and Mursi will remain president."[20] Additionally, it was reported that the MB Supreme Guide, Dr. Mohammad Badi', had minimized the importance of these demonstrations and estimated that they would have no influence whatsoever.[21] On the MB website an article was published that portrayed Tamarrud as an Internet phenomenon (see cartoon) that is removed from the sentiments on the street.[22]

The people will puncture the June 30 bogeyman created by the corrupt press (, June 13 2013)

Simultaneously, the MB movement is organizing pro-Mursi demonstrations beginning June 21, as a show of strength ahead of Tamarrud's June 30 demonstrations. The movement has attempted to recruit the support of the Salafi movements and parties for these demonstrations, but, with the exception of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya that is allied with it, and a few preachers and Sheikhs, most of the Salafi and Salafi-jihadi forces have not responded. The Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiyya movement, the Al-Nour and Al-Watan parties and former presidential candidate Hazem Abu Isma'il have announced that, fearing violence, they would participate neither in the anti-Mursi demonstrations nor in the pro-Mursi ones.[23]

Article On MB Website: We Are Prepared To Sacrifice Our Lives In Defense Of The Regime

Columnist Khalid Ibrahim wrote on the MB website that Mursi supporters are ready to sacrifice their lives in order to preserve the existing government: "I [wish to] ask some of the good Egyptians who, unfortunately, are following the deviant herd of wild beasts who are going against the Islamic political current and desire to be called by the despicable appellation… 'Tamarrud'…: Are you unaware that millions of Mursi supporters are prepared, without awaiting orders, to sacrifice their lives and property not only to defend the legitimate [regime] but also to defend their lives so they won't again be tossed into the gloom of prison or be hanged from the gallows? You have already tested their strength in the battle of Al-Tahrir [Square] and afterwards [in clashes opposite the] Al-Ittihadiyya [on December 5, 2012], where ten of them were pleased to sacrifice their lives and ask their reward [from Allah]… Do you want Egypt to wade into a sea of blood and civil war such as the one that is currently eating away at Syria?…"[24]

Religious Leaders Backing MB: The Demonstrations Against Mursi Are Apostasy And War Against Islam

Tension was also stoked by some fatwas that were published beginning in mid June 2013 by a series of religious leaders who enlisted on Mursi's behalf. They presented the struggle between his supporters and opponents as a struggle between Islam and apostasy, and some of them directly accused the secularists and the Christians of waging a war against Islam. Salafi preacher Wagdi Ghoneim published a clip on YouTube in which he determined that the June 30 demonstrations against Mursi were prohibited by shari'a law, and that Mursi's status as a popularly and legally elected president means that anyone demonstrating against him is an "apostate." Ghoneim threatened that supporters of the Islamic current would not allow the apostates come to power and claimed that the revolt against Mursi constituted a revolt against Islam and an attempt to cause the Islamic project to fail.[25]

Salafi Sheikh Muhammad 'Abd Al-Maqsoud called for transforming June 30 into a day for showing the power of Islam and Muslims and breaking the power of the "apostates and hypocrites," and beseeched Allah to help the Muslims defeat the apostates on that day.[26] Sheikh Ahmad Hulail, an advisor to the Egyptian minister of religious endowments, also remarked that those who called for demonstrations on June 30 are "secularists and Crusaders."[27] In a meeting of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, on June 11, 2013, the June 30 demonstrations were presented as a revolt against shari'a.[28] Safwat 'Abd Al-Ghani, a member of the movement's Shura Council, even said that the call to depose Mursi was a war against Islam and against Islamic identity.[29] Tarek Al-Zomor, head of the political bureau of the Construction and Development Party – the political arm of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, said that Al-Gama'a would defend the legitimate regime to the last drop of blood and pledged to protect Mursi from being ousted.[30] Another political bureau member, Sheikh Muhammad Hassan, said that the Islamic movements were readying an alternative plan in case the Mursi regime falls. He said that the Islamic movements are mulling Egypt's transformation into an Islamic emirate via a comprehensive Islamic revolution that will liquidate the opposition forces. He stated further that Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya is not only working to defend the president's legitimacy but to defend Egypt against a takeover by the secular and liberals.[31]

Articles In The Egyptian Press: Dreading Sanguinary Incidents And Civil War

In view of all this, tension between MB and Tamarrud supporters has intensified in recent weeks and even spilled over into violence. This occurred in Damanhur where one man was killed and dozens were injured.[32] Clashes also erupted in Al-Mansoura, Alexandria and Asyut.[33] Members of Tamarrud accused the MB of torching its campaign headquarters in Cairo, whereas the MB accused Tamarrud of barging into a conference of the Lawyers Union and injuring participants.[34] Reports about the MB's intention to employ violence against the demonstrators on June 30 contributed to enflaming the atmosphere. For example, a report appeared on the Palestinian website, identified with the PLO, that the MB had dispatched young movement members to Gaza for training in advance of June 30;[35] another example was a headline on the front page of the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousuf, that MB "war councils'" are planning for " jihad against Tamarrud."[36]

Articles published in the media expressed apprehension that the events of June 30 would lead to disaster and bloodshed that would claim many victims. Some even voiced fears that Egypt would degenerate into a civil war. Al-Ahram columnist Isma'il Al-Fakhrani wrote: "The drums of war are pounding throughout Egypt, [raising concerns regarding] the death of victims and the shedding of pure Egyptian blood in an intra-Egyptian battle…"[37] In a similar vein, Egyptian playwright 'Ali Salem wrote: "[On June 30] one can assume that millions of Egyptians will take to the streets and some of them – Allah knows how many – will break into the Al-Attihadiyya Palace… Although each side takes pains to announce that it will behave peacefully and not violently, including the police… Everybody senses that this day will not pass peacefully, for that is impossible when millions of angry people fill the streets in the Cairene summer. The nerves of some thousands or hundreds of them will break and the matter will turn into a disaster…[38]

Mustafa Al-Naggar, a former member of the People's Assembly, warned on his Twitter account that, if groups hit the street to confront the June 30 demonstrators, this might trigger a genuine civil war. He added that the threats against the demonstrators only intensifies the polarization and lays the groundwork for mutual violence that would consume Egypt.[39]

Al-Ahram columnist Masoud Al-Hinnawi expressed similar apprehension about a potential civil war: "My heart is filled with dread lest June 30 be [the start of] a civil war that will destroy Egypt from end to end, otherwise how can we interpret the declarations by the leaders of the Islamic groups regarding their preparedness to send their supporters to conquer the squares of the capital beginning June 28 and to struggle against supporters of Tamarrud who are expected to congregate in the streets [and demonstrate] against the regime? What do the Salvation Front leaders mean when they voice their intention to organize mass demonstrations in various districts in order to prevent the MB movement and its supporters from concentrating all their forces in the Cairo squares? If these are the explicit declarations and preparations by both sides, [imagine for yourself] what are the clandestine plans that each side is concealing from the other in order to tip the battle in its favor and show that it represents the decisive majority… What do we still lack in order to predict that a civil war is approaching, with all that this entails – a civil war that we are preparing to spark in every way when we do not have even a single way to extinguish it?…"[40]

* L. Lavi is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), June 3, 2013.

[2] Al-Watan (Egypt), June 3, 5, 2013. The Black Bloc is comprised of bands of youths attired in black who appeared in the focal points of the riots that erupted in Egyptian cities on the second anniversary of the January 25, 2011 Revolution. They attacked police and government installations, and proclaimed their commitment to fight the MB. On anti-Mursi demonstrations held by the Ultras and the Black Bloc on January 25, 2013, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 921, Egypt Prepares For Second Anniversary Of January 25 Revolution Amid Unprecedented Tension Between Muslim Brotherhood And Opposition Camp, January 24, 2013.

[3] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 4, 2013. For the Front's announcement, see

[4] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 17, 2013.

[5] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 12, 2013; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 14, 2013.

[6] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 14, 2013. On the public debate in Egypt regarding the army's intervention in situations of anarchy, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 960, In Egypt, Tension Between Mursi Regime And Military, And Calls To Restore Armed Forces To Power, April 30, 2013.

[7], June 19, 2013.

[8]!/Tmrood, June 19, 2013.

[9] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), June 3, 2013.

[10] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 21, 2013.

[11] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 11, 2013.

[12] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 15, 2013.

[13] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 12, 2013.

[14] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 9, 2013,, June 12, 2013.

[15] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 7, 2013.

[16] Al-Watan (Egypt), June 15, 2013; Regarding the impact of the Ethiopian dam on Egypt see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 978, Rising Tensions Over The Nile River Basin, June 11, 2013.

[17] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 9, 2013.

[18] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), June 9, 2013.

[19] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 12, 2013.

[20] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 2, 2013.

[21] Al-Watan (Egypt), June 13, 2013.

[22], May 21, 2013.

[23] It should be noted that the consensus within Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiyya is to avoid the streets on June 30, but Mursi's legitimacy is in dispute. Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiyya Deputy Chairman Yasser Burhami said that, if the demonstrations against the president create a huge uproar, he will call upon Mursi to resign. In contrast, the movement's other deputy chairman, Sheikh Sa'id 'Abd Al-Azim, said that Morsi is a legitimate ruler and it is prohibited to come out against him. Al-Watan (Egypt), June 6, 2013; Al-Shurouk (Egypt), June 8, 2013. The position of the Islamic Jihad organization is unclear. On the one hand, its head, Nabil Na'eem, told the opposition daily Al-Watan that it was necessary to join the demonstrations against Mursi. On the other hand, Al-Watan reported that Nizar Gharab, another leader of the organization, had called upon Mursi to use force against the opposition demonstrators because otherwise the Islamic political stream would have to arm itself against Tamarrud to defend the religion. Al-Watan (Egypt), June 12, 2013.

[24], June 10, 2013.

[25] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 16, 2013.

[26] Al-Watan (Egypt), June 15, 2013.

[27] Al-Watan (Egypt), June 16, 2013.

[28], June 11, 2013.

[29] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 16, 2013.

[30] Al-Watan (Egypt), June 12, 2013.

[31]Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), June 11, 2013.

[32] Al-Dustour Al-Asli (Egypt), June 7, 2013.

[33] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), June 9, 2013; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 14, 2013.

[34] Al-Watan (Egypt), June 7, 2013;, June 6, 2013.

[35], June 9, 2013.

[36] Roz Al-Yousuf (Egypt), June 8, 2013.

[37] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 17, 2013.

[38] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, (London), June 15, 2013.

[39], June 8, 2013.

[40] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 12, 2013.

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