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Kerry: Egyptian revolution 'stolen' by Muslim Brotherhood

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at an international security forum at the State Department on Wednesday.Paul J. Richards / AFP

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Egyptian revolution was "stolen" from the youth who started it by the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology," Kerry told an international security forum at the State Department on Wednesday.

“They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future. And not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more…. That's what drove that revolution and then it got stolen. By the one single most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi, elected to the presidency in June 2012, had filled a power vacuum left by the "Arab Spring" revolt that brought down longtime Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

It is not the first time Kerry has been critical of the Brotherhood and its actions in Egypt. In September, Kerry said the Egyptian military had been "restoring democracy" when it arrested Morsi this summer to quell worsening violence.

Growing unrest among the populous had centered on Morsi's inability to curb social and economic problems and concern he was leading the country toward stricter Islamic control. Kerry himself had visited Cairo in March, when he urged Morsi to enact sweeping economic reforms and govern in a more inclusive manner. Those calls went unheeded.

Simmering public unhappiness with his rule boiled over when the military deposed Morsi. He was replaced by an army-backed government.

Kerry also said Wednesday that the greatest threat to America is not a “rising rival,” but the "risks that would arise in the world where American leadership ceases to be a driving force."

He said the gravest danger “comes from the vacuum that the absence of leadership would create for autocrats and extremists to exploit. All of us know that these risks are real and unpredictable.” 

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Kerry visits Egypt, hails signs of democracy after military ouster