There’s been plenty of debate over whether what happened in Egypt should be considered a coup d’état — especially with $1.2 billion in U.S. aid hinging on the word — but perhaps the most interesting space for that debate is happening on Wikipedia.
As Marya Hunn at Foreign Policy notes, there is an ongoing battle on the internet encyclopedia over the title of the article “2013 Egyptian coup d’état.”
“History is written by the victorious Wikipedia editors,” writes Hunn, and one look at the talk section of the article shows that victory is far from decided.
On July 3, after days of growing protests throughout the country, the military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power and suspended the constitution. Morsi was replaced by Adly Mansour as interim leader until elections could be held.
coup d’état, also called Coup, the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements. Unlike a revolution, which is usually achieved by large numbers of people working for basic social, economic, and political change, a coup is a change in power from the top that merely results in the abrupt replacement of leading government personnel.
But still, many in the Wiki disagree.
One user, citing a similar definition, wrote, “all the world saw that the Egyptian people have protested for 5 days and they had an only demand Step down of the president. So obviously it is a popular revolution, not a coup.”
From Foreign Policy:
In arguing for a title change, some Wikipedians have asserted that it’s hypocritical to call Egypt’s first popular uprising in 2011 a “revolution” and second in 2013 a “coup,” given that both required military intervention to realise popular demands for a change in political leadership. “To describe the events which allowed Morsi’s rise to power as a ‘revolution’ but those which led to his downfall as a ‘coup’ is clearly biased and violates NPOV [Neutral point of view],” one user writes. “A number of the comments by those defending the use of ‘coup’ in the title and trying to shut down discussion frankly strike me as Wiki-lawyering.”
This isn’t the first time for such an editing battle. The entries for John Kerry and George W. Bush both had to be frozen during the 2004 election due to constant vandalism, according to The New York Times.
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