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Reflections from Cairo – ATTA Executive Director of MENA, Manal Saad Kelig

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Editor’s Note: This ‘Note from the Field’ is authored by Manal S. Kelig, the ATTA Executive Director of Middle East & North Africa, and co- founder of Gateway To Egypt and Great Wonders of Egypt. The ATTA requested her insights so that we could share with AdventureTravelNews readers some perspective on the ground from a tourism expert experiencing first hand the current situation in Egypt. 

Protesters in Alexandria. Photo courtesy of Manal Kelig.

In the past weeks, the level of misinformation and mixed coverage of the events in Egypt on the global and national levels has overwhelmed me. I have been approached by media and spectators from both sides of the political divide in Egypt and I have spent hours trying to filter the truth from the real scene and offer clarifications on details from misleading sources from both sides.

Neutral observers call the events of June 30th a Coup, and they do not approve of what over 22 millions Egyptians have been saying – that it is not a coup but a democratic move backed by the Egyptian army to put Egypt back on track of the revolution of January 25th, 2011.

To be able to offer a non-biased analysis of the situation in Egypt, one must not be only familiar with the events of the past three years but also of the history of Egypt for the past sixty years. That is why it is such a long process to make the details of what is happening in Egypt abundantly clear.

Demonstrations in Luxor. Photo courtesy of M. Kelig.

As a start I have to mention that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its off shoots represent the most successful non-governmental/illegal organizations to sustain themselves and reach out and connect with the communities through social and economic community support. Also to be fair for the Muslim Brotherhood, from the early days of his Presidency, President Morsi was saddled with responsibility for Egypt’s insurmountable problems and the fact that certain state sectors have never accepted its authority. In addition to an opposition that reacted to the Muslim Brotherhood’s broken promises, distrust and marginalization by being unified only by a desire to make the Brotherhood fail.

A recent Facebook photo shows Tahrir square flooded by protesters. Courtesy of M. Kelig.

On the other hand, the mistakes of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi are undeniable! For instance there is the unwillingness to build coalitions with others. Or carry out actions that would have calmed the growing pubic discontent. Instead they kept ignoring it and calls to solve it.  Then there are also the steps that they have taken to strengthen their rule through insisting to support a constitution that did not satisfy the aspirations of the new revolutionary Egypt. All these actions were taken as threat to the identity of the Egyptian nation and a huge step down on democracy .

As the traditional means of withdrawal of confidence was not available – because of the non-completion of construction of the constitutional institutions, specifically the Parliament, and because the executive branch headed towards maximizing its presence through attempts to undermine the powers of the legislative and judicial branches – the unhappy sector of the population could not turn back to the Parliament to discuss a withdrawal of confidence from the executive authority. The people were forced to return to the original mechanisms of democracy through demonstrating out in the streets and looking at civil disobedience in demand to withdraw confidence and have a presidency re-election. A suggestion that was refused by President Morsi.

Women join in the public protests. Courtesy of M. Kelig.

It has been said that the Egyptians are divided on almost two equal teams according to the results of the presidency elections in June 2012. But this statement ignores the fact that after a year of poor performance and degraded policies and threatening acts, the president has lost many of his supporters. As a result the people went out in the streets in a tidal popular revolution including millions of people from different sectors of the community who have conducted the worlds largest organized non sudden Coup D’etat Democratique. It might even lead to a new term that will be called ‘Couvolution’.

On July 7th, the Ministry of Tourism of Egypt released a statement stating Egypt is proud to proclaim a new era for Egyptian tourism following the revolution of June 30, 2013. The press release predicted that tourism in Egypt is expected to boom as of next fall as the country settles down to its newfound democracy that will bring peace and prosperity to this great country and its united people – even though some countries have issued travel warnings against Egypt and apart from beach destinations tourists are almost non existent. Yet the press release was hopeful that things will go back to normal soon.

Cairo. Courtesy of M. Kelig.

I have to continuously say that no one is pleased with the division and bloodshed playing out in the streets of Cairo and other cities right now and for many people their main concern is restoring peace as soon as possible between the different members of the Egyptian community.

It is a bumpy journey and there will be more hardships and unpleasant surprises that we have to deal with in the short term.

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