Tawakkul Karman, who shared a Nobel peace prize for her pro-democracy campaigning in Yemen, has said she views the Egyptian army’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi as a death knell for Arab democratic movements.
The removal of Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, on 3 July “reset the clock” on the gains made since a popular uprising ended 30 years of Hosni Mubarak’s one-man rule in 2011, she said on Monday.
Meanwhile, supporters of Morsi protested outside several ministries yesterday in further defiance of a government ultimatum to dismantle their sprawling Cairo protest camps.
Police fired tear gas to break up brief clashes that erupted between Morsi loyalists and residents of a central Cairo neighbourhood, AFP correspondents reported.
Loyalists of the deposed president have set up two huge Cairo protest camps and have held near daily demonstrations for his reinstatement since his overthrow by the military on July 3.
“The first emerging democracy in Egypt’s history and the first in the region since the Arab spring is quickly being dismantled,” said the 34-year-old Yemeni mother of three.
Karman, the first Arab woman and second Muslim woman to win the Nobel peace prize, was turned away from Egypt on 4 August after she announced on social media her intention to join Muslim Brotherhood protesters at a huge pro-Morsi vigil in Cairo.
Egyptian authorities gave no reason beyond saying Karman was on a list of people banned from entering the country.
“Denying me entry means only one thing. Egypt’s new government is returning to the autocratic ways of the past. They are not willing to tolerate difference in opinion,” she said.
Karman described Morsi’s fall as part of a broader counter-revolution gripping the region and said remnants of governments toppled in 2011 and 2012 were clawing their way back into power.
“The Arab spring is about building democracy. A military coup is the antithesis of that. It undermines everything,” she said.
“The destruction of Egypt’s revolution means death for the Arab spring.”
Karman also criticised the refusal of the US, which gives Egypt $1.5b in mostly military aid, to condemn Morsi’s removal by the army as a coup. Washington would be legally obliged to cut off the aid if it did so.