Max Blumenthal writes: The debate over the legitimacy of Egypt’s new, military-installed government has become a popularity battle, with some of the most vocal supporters of the coup claiming that the June 30 protests against President Mohammed Morsi represented the largest demonstrations in human history, a real-life Cecil B. DeMille production, with crowd sizes ranging anywhere between 14 to 33 million people – over one-third of the entire population of Egypt.
Substituting subjective head counts for vote totals, Morsi’s opponents have also pointed to the 22 million signatures supposedly gathered by the newfangled Tamarod youth movement. To them, the tens of millions in the streets were a clear sign that “the people” had sided unequivocally with the army and its political allies.
The importance of head counts to the military-installed government’s international legitimacy was on display at a July 11 press conference at the US State Department. Pressed by Matt Lee of the Associated Press on whether the Obama administration considered Morsi’s ouster a coup, and if it would respond by canceling aid including a planned shipment of four F-16’s to Egypt, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki countered by citing Tamarod’s figures, declaring that the US could not reverse the will of the “22 million people who spoke out and had their voices heard.”
Days later, the Pentagon announced that the F-16 sale would proceed as planned. As far as the US was concerned, Egypt had not just witnessed a military coup. Instead, “the people” – or at least 22 million of them – had spoken.
With Egypt’s new army-backed regime relying on jaw dropping, record-shattering crowd estimates and petition drive figures to assert its democratic legitimacy, it is worth investigating the source of the numbers, and asking whether they add up at all. [Continue reading…]