Sunset in Cairo
© Arria Belli / The Commons
Sunset in Cairo
Sofia Barbarani and Kulsoom Rizvi
Last updated: August 12, 2013

Infographics: Egypt’s coup d’état debate

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The 3rd of July saw the end of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi. Following three days of demonstrations, and 14 million protesters, Morsi’s rule came to a sudden halt.

The former president was asked to step down by the Egyptian military, who seized power in an attempt to pacify the disillusioned crowd. Morsi is now under house arrest, while the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mahmud Mansour, has stepped in as the country’s interim leader. 

Morsi supporters cry “Coup d’état,” while his foes rejoice in what they see as the legitimate removal of a tyrant. What the on-going coup debate has certainly proven is that the definition of Morsi’s downfall varies depending on whose side one is on.

Internationally, the EU and the US have both refrained from labeling Egypt’s political turmoil as a coup, and while Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have all welcomed the interim leader, Turkey has called it an “unacceptable coup.”

Meanwhile, media outlets such as Al Jazeera and Reuters have used terms like “removal” and “overthrow,” while other international media have not hesitated to use the word “coup.”

There are various types of coups, including breakthrough, guardian, veto and bloodless coup.

According to historian Edward Luttwak “a coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder.”

While many claim that it is merely a case of semantics, labeling what happened in Egypt is of great importance on both a social and economic level.

It IS a coup:

The overthrowing of Morsi and his legally constituted government was a forced and sudden act. The government was displaced, albeit relatively peacefully, and power was seized by the military which holds institutional bases of power within Egypt.

It is NOT a coup:

There has been no immediate implementation of a military-run state, as is often the case with coups. Some international countries refuse to label the overthrowing of Morsi as a coup because of the risk in ending the $1.5bn in annual aid to the country. Many anti-Morsi protestors refuse to call it a military coup because they don’t want their voices to be forgotten.


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