On 3 July 2013, the Egyptian military removed president Mohamed Morsi from power and installed an interim government. Morsi had been elected on 24 June 2012. He was the first democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history.
General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, who broke the news in the presence of the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Coptic Pope Tawadros II as well as opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, announced, in addition to Morsi’s removal, the suspension of the constitution, and a new presidential election to be held soon. Morsi was put under house arrest and Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested.
This came after large-scale ongoing public protests in Egypt for and against Morsi, and a warning from the army to respond to the demands of the protesters or it would impose its own roadmap. On 30 June, marking the anniversary of Morsi's inauguration as president, millions of protesters across Egypt took to the streets and demanded the resignation of the president, whom they accused of being increasingly authoritarian and of pushing through an Islamist agenda with no regard to the opposition. The demonstrations turned violent when five anti-Morsi protesters were killed in separate clashes. On the morning of 1 July, anti-Morsi protesters ransacked the national headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. On 3 July, gunmen opened fire on a pro-Morsi rally, killing sixteen people and wounding two hundred.
The situation escalated to a full-blown national political and constitutional crisis, with Morsi refusing the military's demands and the army threatening to take over if the civilian politicians did not resolve the situation. Morsi gave a defiant speech in which he reiterated his "legitimacy" as a democratically elected president and criticized the military for taking sides in the crisis. On 3 July, the Egyptian military appointed Chief Justice Adly Mansour as interim president, and charged him with forming a transitional technocratic government.
There were mixed international reactions to the events. Much of the Arab world was supportive or neutral, with the notable exceptions of Tunisia and Turkey. There was also a measured response from both the United States and the European Union. The world media meanwhile indulged in what seemed at times like a semantic debate about when a coup was not a coup – it was variously described as a coup d'état or as a pro-revolution intervention.
Many observers recalled what had happened in Algeria in 1992, when what looked like a democratic transition was knocked off course by the military: they aborted the second round of general elections which the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win. This was the first democratically-elected Islamic experiment which was (pre-emptively) halted in the name of protecting democracy and it triggered a civil insurgency between the Armed Islamic Group (the armed wing of the FIS) and the national armed forces, during which an estimated 150,000 people died, thousands disappeared and maybe 500,000 fled the country, billions of dollars-worth of Algeria’s infrastructures was destroyed. Francis Ghilès says that Algerian politics have never quite recovered from that failed experiment - the country is still disoriented. He adds that events in Egypt follow a well-known script: that of the “revolutionary passion play” which begins “in dewy innocence of collective rebirth” and ends “with the arbitration of arms”.