Good news: An Egyptian court has reportedly lifted a three-month state of emergency and nighttime curfew for the country. The peacekeeping measures had been implemented Aug. 14, when Egypt’s security forces cracked down on rallies in support of ousted president Mohammad Morsi. On Sept. 12, the emergency state was extended as the military government fought to keep Islamists at bay — but a court ruled Tuesday that the extension should only last two months, therefore ending today. Now, there's mixed messages about what exactly is happening: the government is alternately complying with the ruling, and waiting for a copy of the court’s decision before implementing it.
Either way, now, in a few hours, life in Egypt will resume some semblance of normalcy. The curfew is said to have stifled economic life in the country, where it was implemented from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. every night but Friday. (Nope, they didn’t get Fridays off; rather, the curfew started even earlier, at 7 p.m.)
Of course, for more than 30 years a “state of emergency," complete with extra military powers, was the norm, until the Arab Spring ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The Muslim Brotherhood won the presidential race in the newly-democratic Egypt, but a slow turnaround hurt the new government’s legitimacy. Soon, anti-government protests broke out again, and the Brotherhood was deposed.
The curfews and restrictions were just one part of continued clashes between supporters of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood and state forces. Morsi’s trial for inciting violence began last week, only to be abruptly halted and rescheduled for a later date. At the trial, when the judge identified Morsi as the defendant, he replied, “I am Dr. Mohammed Morsi, the president of the republic. I am Egypt’s legitimate president.”
And his supporters continue to think so. Scores of them have been killed by military and police forces since Morsi was ousted earlier this year, in what the U.S. government still refuses to outright call a coup. The Obama administration then cut some military aid to Egypt, and though Secretary Of State John Kerry emphasized that the action was “not a punishment,” it’s hard to not see it as one. “The United States believes that the U.S.-Egypt partnership is going to be stronger when Egypt is represented by an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government based on rule of law, fundamental freedoms and an open and competitive economy,” Kerry said.
So, while the curfew may be over, the real hurdles have yet to be cleared. Experts say that even without the officially expanded powers, the government will continue to deploy extra forces to keep down unrest. And, reports the BBC, a new countywide law will soon be introduced to ban public protests. Under the new law, organizers will have to inform the police in advance of any public or private gathering of more than ten people.