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Egypt is one of the most popular travel destinations for TNT readers. It’s high up on the checklist of must-visit places for expats living in London, with 11.5 million tourists visiting the country last year.

So last week’s extraordinary events have led to many having concerns over safety and questions about whether trips already booked should be cancelled. Here, we speak to experts and get the lowdown on making sense of what went on, and whether it’s currently a viable, and safe, destination to visit.


What happened in Egypt?

In scenes reminiscent of the Arab Spring in 2011, when President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, on July 3, Egypt’s army deposed the country’s first democratically elected leader.

After just a year in office, Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi was ousted, sparking demonstrations and protests – both in support and against the action – in city centres, including Cairo, Luxor and Alexandria, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. By Friday, at least 50 people had been killed and hundreds injured. 

Why did it happen?

Morsi narrowly won last year’s election. In the past 12 months, the strict Islamist has become increasingly unpopular and authoritarian, and he had failed to revive the country’s ailing economy, sparking outrage on June 30, the first anniversary of his inauguration. The military stepped in – with what was clearly a well-planned move – with General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi warning Morsi the army would intervene if the public’s demands weren’t met. 

After defying this, and in the wake of protests and violence, 48 hours later, Morsi was overthrown and the Egyptian constitution suspended, with General Sisi making a televised address after seizing control of the state media. Top judge Adly Mansour was sworn in as interim president, elections have been promised, and Morsi, along with many of his team, is under house arrest.


Do other countries support the coup?

Most world leaders aren’t calling it a ‘coup’, instead referring to it as a popular uprising. New Zealand-based Egyptian Charge d’affaires Mahmoud Zayed said the army’s intervention was in accordance with public demands, and said the mood in Egypt was euphoric and celebratory.

He added: “Their [the military] action was based on the will of the people, and based on the massive demonstrations they have seen. People were not happy with the performance of the outgoing administration … and the government was not up to the expectations of the people.”

Australian PM Kevin Rudd called the developments “extraordinary”, but added: “I would simply say on behalf of all Australians, we want to see the return to full democratic government in Egypt as rapidly as possible.” While Australian foreign minister Bob Carr described the action as “deeply disappointing”, but said Australia does not oppose it and that there are no plans to close Australia’s Embassy in Cairo.


Talkback


Egypt explained: Get the lowdown on the latest political unrest and where it's safe to travel
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