History shows difficulty of demilitarising Egypt
Political upheaval in 1954 led to 60 years of military rule; there is a window of opportunity to save recent democratic gains and the international community should do all it can to make that happen
Egypt's crisis has been called the worst in its history. But in fact, it bears a striking resemblance to a previous episode, almost 60 years ago.
On February 28, 1954, almost a million protesters besieged Cairo's Abdin Palace, then being used by Gamal Abdel Nasser and other leaders of the July 1952 coup. The protesters' main demands were the restoration of Egypt's fragile democratic institutions, the release of political prisoners, and the army's return to its barracks.
The two-month crisis of 1954 was sparked by the removal of Egypt's president, General Mohammed Naguib, by Nasser and his faction. As in 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood was at the centre of events, mobilising on the side of the deposed Naguib. But following Nasser's promises to hold elections in June 1954 and to hand over power to civilians, one of the Brotherhood's leaders, Abd al-Qadr Audeh, dismissed the protesters.
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