Unpacking the Effects of Repression: the Evolution of Islamist Repertoires of Contention in Egypt after the Fall of President Morsi. (with Cilja Harders)
Jannis Grimm – 2017
The military coup against president Morsi in July 2013 sparked the largest wave of Islamist mobilization in Egypt’s modern history. As the ousted president’s supporters took to the street in what became known as the ‘anti-coup’ movement, they were met with fierce repression. This article retraces the contentious dynamics in the summer of 2013 in a nested research design and with a focus on contentious repertoires. Drawing on data for over 2400 protest events and debunking the myth of a swift defeat of the anti-coup protests, we show how repression, besides affecting protest levels, markedly changed the quality of contention. Most notably, three transformative events involving massive repressive violence impacted on protest spaces, tactics and timing: rather than binary notions of escalation vs. demobilization, adaptive mechanisms of decentralization, diversification and substitution dominated the anti-coup movement’s reaction to repression. Centralized mass protests evolved into smaller, more flexible, and highly decentralized forms that were better fit to skirt the regime’s repression efforts. Our findings have important implications for the theorization of the protest–repression-nexus. They prompt scholars to conceive of repression and backlash as multi-layered phenomena and study their effects in a disaggregate framework.