by John Zangas
Egyptian Americans in Washington, DC told President Mohamed Morsi to “leave” and “give us democracy” on June 29 and 30, coordinating with planned protests in Cairo. Claiming Morsi has turned back on promises made to establish a democratic government, supporters of Egyptians are expressing their displeasure with Morsi and his political base, the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi took power in 2011 after Egyptians flooded the streets to topple dictator Hosni Mubarak.
While several hundred people gathered in front of the White House, thousands of Egyptians congregated in Tahrir Square near the center of Cairo, hoping to send a message to Morsi to institute democratic reforms. June 30 is the anniversary of Morsi’s becoming the first elected president of Egypt.
Many of the protesters in front of the White House were young, reflecting Egypt’s current demographic. Over 50% of Egyptians were born after 1990 and are under the age of 25. The younger generation’s facility with social media has played a role in opposition to Egypt’s government over the past few years. Many people at the Washington, DC rally communicated with those in Tahrir Square via Twitter and Facebook.
During the Egyptian uprising in 2011, Mubarak attempted to quell unrest by shutting down Twitter and Facebook. At one point, he completely shut off public access to the Internet.
Unrest ahead of the scheduled protest in Tahrir has led to tensions around Egypt and even violence. The previous day two were killed in Alexandria, including an American teacher, when protestors sacked Muslim Brotherhood offices. Another man was killed in an explosion during protests at Port Said, the entrance to the Suez Canal.
Mass protests also occurred in Egypt in Novemeber 2012 when Morsi decided to grant himself sweeping powers. Tens of thousands have crowded into Tahrir Square in advance of the June 30 protest.