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FRONTLINE: Egypt In Crisis

Airs Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Protesters in Cairo march in support of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who won Egypt’s first free and fair elections in June 2012, but was overthrown by the military a year later.

Less than three years after the popular uprising that led to President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, and just one year after Egypt’s first free and fair elections, the democratically elected government has been overthrown and the Egyptian military is running the state.

And the Muslim Brotherhood—the secretive, long-outlawed Islamist group that came out of the shadows to win the presidency in June 2012—is once again being driven underground, its members killed and arrested in an army-led campaign to wipe it off the map. Were the Brothers ever really in charge? Or was the Egyptian “deep state”—embedded remnants of Mubarak’s police force, Supreme Court and, most of all, military—in control all along?

Day-To-Day Timeline

View a timeline of events, conversations and analysis from Tahrir Square and around the world. (Feature from FRONTLINE "Revolution in Cairo")

Follow The Reporters

FRONTLINE had a team of reporters on the ground following the events in Egypt for this film. Follow Martin Smith, Chris Fournelle and GlobalPost’s Charles M. Sennott on Twitter.

In "Egypt In Crisis," airing Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 on PBS, FRONTLINE and GlobalPost’s Charles M. Sennott go inside the Egyptian revolution, tracing how what began as a youth movement to topple a dictator evolved into an opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to seemingly find the political foothold it had sought for decades—and then why it all fell apart.

“We’ve gone from the hope and high expectations of the 2011 revolution to the first free and fair presidential election in Egypt’s history to a return to military rule and a country more deeply divided than ever—all in less than three years,” says Sennott, a veteran Middle East correspondent ("The Brothers"). “This FRONTLINE documentary takes you deep inside these turbulent ups and downs.”

When Sennott was in Egypt reporting for FRONTLINE’s "The Brothers" in January of 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood had aligned itself with secular youth activists and was essentially holding the revolution’s infrastructure together.

“The young activists had no real leader,” Sennott says. “The Brothers were much more organized, so they stepped in, and they were the ones running the security checkpoints, serving hot tea, distributing blankets and running an emergency health clinic.”

But, as FRONTLINE reveals, the Brotherhood soon turned on its former allies, aligning itself instead with the Egyptian army and tolerating violent repression. Under the short-lived presidency of Mohammed Morsi, the military tortured high-ranking members of the opposition, subjected women to public “virginity tests” and conducted mass arrests of revolutionaries.

“We wanted our first elected president, who himself had been subjected to torture, who himself has come from a clandestine organization that was the prime target of police brutality, to stand up against police brutality,” Khaled Fahmy, a historian at the American University in Cairo, tells FRONTLINE. “Nothing happens. Not a single police officer was put on trial. Not a single investigation was launched.”

In "Egypt In Crisis," FRONTLINE goes behind the scenes to find out how Morsi’s rule became increasingly unpopular, and explores the days and decisions leading up to his ouster at the hands of the military and his arrest on charges of inciting murder. With Egypt’s hopes for democracy in tatters, and the military-led government violently cracking down on the Brothers, what will happen next?

"Egypt In Crisis" is a FRONTLINE production with Rain Media in association with GlobalPost. The writers and producers are Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria. The correspondent is Charles M. Sennott. The deputy executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is David Fanning.

Past episodes of FRONTLINE are available for online viewing. FRONTLINE is on Facebook, and follow @frontlinepbs on Twitter.

Video

Frontline: Egypt In Crisis Preview

Above: It took 80 years to rise to power, but now, after only 12 months, the Muslim Brotherhood has been ousted by its longtime foe — the Egyptian military. In a special FRONTLINE report, veteran Middle East correspondents Martin Smith (“Obama’s War,” “Return of the Taliban,” “Revolution in Cairo”) and Charles Sennott of GlobalPost (“Revolution in Cairo”) examine the rise and rapid fall of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. How did the Brotherhood lose control? Could the U.S. have done anything to alter the course of events in Egypt? With unique access to the Brotherhood’s leadership, FRONTLINE follows the Islamist movement as it plots its next move.