CAIRO -- Egypt on Thursday had a new president, its former president sat in military custody, the top official of the Muslim Brotherhood was under arrest, and at least four television stations had been shut down all seemingly undemocratic steps barely a year after the nations first free and fair presidential elections.
But none of that deterred the feeling of jubilation that remained on the streets in Egypts capital, one day after the top military commander ousted Mohammed Morsi from the presidency, suspended a controversial constitution that had been approved in a referendum and called for new presidential elections.
For many here, the dramatic shift in Egypts leadership was a culmination of a maelstrom that took months to develop as an increasingly disgruntled public, the nations military and Morsis incompetent leadership collided. Even as they quietly mulled whether Morsi might have been right that remnants of the government of Hosni Mubarak were constantly undermining him, many here embraced the result.
A popular "referendum on the streets" had nullified the elections that led to Morsis increasingly unpopular and divisive tenure, they said. The military, the last remaining revered national institution, simply carried out the will of the majority, they said. Morsi, they said, had never had control of the government, the final evidence coming when police officers and soldiers turned against him.
It was a coup, but it was necessary, said Marwa Abdel Majeed, a businesswoman who felt the military intervention was the only means to spare Egypt from Morsis incompetency and divisiveness.
We were not ready for democracy, she said, asserting that Egypts largely illiterate population was unaware of what elections could bring.
Jihan Sherif, Abdel Majeeds friend, even rejected calling what happened here a military coup, despite the militarys arrest of Morsi and declaration that he was no longer president. She said the military had no choice because the people alone could not possibly have challenged the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsis backers, which had become the best-organized grassroots movement in Egypt during its 84 years, most of them as an underground organization.
Of course its not a coup. The people were in the streets pushing for some institution to take their side because if they attack the Brotherhood it would be a civil war, said Sherif, 34, who lives in the upscale Cairo neighborhood of Zamelek. It was the best case scenario.
She, too, said Morsis rule was the result of ignorance among the people who voted for him.
The illiterate are much more in numbers than the educated, she said. There was no one to represent the educated masses.
With Morsis ouster, the nation now was in the hands of two relatively unknown leaders. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, the defense minister and head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, has been at the post for less than a year, appointed by Morsi last August.
Adly Mansour, 67, took the oath of office Thursday as acting president, just three days after being named the head of the countrys Supreme Constitutional Court, a post hell retain while president.
Military officials arrested the Brotherhoods supreme leader, Mohamed Badie, whisking him from his home in the western coastal town of Marsa Matrouh and bringing him to Cairo, where he was charged with inciting violence.