History will remind us that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has lived 80 years dreaming of being in power as a vanguard for ‘world leadership’. But after one year in power they could hardly find a foothold in Egyptian streets, having been squeezed in one square after the streets were flooded by angry protesters.
I am referring to the protests of June 30, which were predicted and surprising at the same time. On that day, I preferred to stay away from big protests and walk in the streets to observe the people. In Pyramids Street (a low-medium middle class neighbourhood), I walked on foot to come across many spontaneous protests which I never witnessed since the angry Friday, 28th of January 2011. Until I reached Giza square, these protesters were mostly non-politicised ordinary folks. Most of these frequent protests were small and spontaneous. Even their chants were short and simple lacking any sign of organization or leadership.
There are multiple aspects of rallying against the Brotherhood. From cars and microbus drivers chanting slogans to crowds of people inside the subway, I could see groups of people either coming back or heading to the protests at Ithaddiyya Palace. Throughout my round-up I could not find a single individual or placard supporting Morsi. I believe that any Ikhwan supporter in these circumstances was in one of three situations: hiding in Rabaa Aladwaya (the only square where Ikhwan could find a place to gather), staying home, or favouring silence in order to preserve his/her personal safety (which is of course not a healthy sign).
From Saray El-Kobba metro station to Ithaddiyya Presidential Palace, I witnessed uncountable numbers of people. These protests, in my own view, were most reflective of Egyptians. They were the biggest in size and the most diversified in gender, class and political affiliations, unlike anything seen since January 2011.
The nearer I became to the palace, the happier I felt seeing flags of Mina Danial, Khaled Said and Jika while listening to chants that called Morsi an heir of Mubarak. However, one could also hear some chants from some small and medium sized protests by ordinary non-politicized people welcoming the military and the police. Not all people joined such chants but, to be fair, it was also part of the day.
An Egyptian could make sense of cheering for the military as most of the people had lost their trust both in Brotherhood regime as well as the political opposition which failed to provide any reliable alternative. The chants for the police, however, have different explanations contingent upon complex circumstances. One of these is of course the rage against Ikhwan. Who could have imagined that one day the descendants of Al-Banna will have to face such an infamy?
However taking these exceptional examples of support for military to discredit the millions that rallied to end the undemocratic rule would not be fair. They cannot just be called puppets or remnants of Mubarak’s regime. Saying that Egyptians are longing for an old kind of regime would be a ridiculous and farcical analysis that does not deserve serious attention.
How and why did the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) vanish from the streets on the 30th of June? How, after one year of their rule, did the situation reach such degree of popular disapproval considering they have historically always been the group that enjoyed the widest grassroots incubator?
Since January 2011 revolution, the MB and Islamists practiced the worst degree of hypocrisy towards the police and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Islamists indeed defended the security apparatus and described the revolutionaries as hired thugs who aimed to obstruct the democratic transition. Meanwhile some of these dissidents were being killed, stripped and smashed in Mohamed Mahmoud street battles.
After gaining power, Ikhwan showed the highest levels of stubbornness and arrogance towards the opposition and ignored the real engine of the revolution, i.e. the youth. The MB thought that it was undefeatable and that the country was theirs, while turning their back to the people who sincerely served them one advice after another. They also turned their back to those who supported Morsi against Shafik while failing to carry out any of the promises that Morsi pledged to.
Meanwhile, they continued their hypocrisy to state apparatus of Mubarak’s regime with an aim to broadening its circle of power. Instead of relying on a social revolutionary base to cleanse and reform the security apparatus, Morsi described the policemen as "partners in the revolution”. In addition, Islamists constitutionalized the militarization of Egypt in the new constitution through monopolizing the process of constitution making. They increased the wages of the military and police while other popular strata were increasingly suffering. This is evidence enough of the kind of regime Morsi was relying on.
The MB was also too reluctant to wage a timely war on the massive corruption. Their battle was selective; making use of the revolutionary discourse to pass their own partisan agenda and to guarantee the total allegiance of the state institutions instead of reforming them. They let the people down and changed their positions to match their own interests.
People watched all of these changing positions in addition to being stroked by relentless catastrophes and crises, not to mention the poor governance that failed to achieve any political or economic progress.
Contrary to what Ikhwan says, media bias have minor role in this uprising. People were already motivated enough. Ikhwan accuses media of being biased and forget that they already own the state TV and tens of religious satellite channels. Moreover, it goes without saying that no government fails or succeeds just because the media attacks or praises it. Although Mubarak owned the most powerful media propaganda, the revolution managed to topple him at the end.
The MB has survived for more than 80 years resisting authoritarian suppression and attempts to exterminate it. All the time they managed, with varying degree, to preserve a considerable grassroots incubator. Even in the worst situation in the past, they enjoyed sense of respect from considerable societal and intellectual groups. However, within a year of their rule they have lost most of this respect. They have become the most hated after Mubarak’s remnants as they presented the worst model of failure as manifested through their monopoly of power and authoritarianism.
Regardless of how we would describe the military intervention, the 30th of June protests resemble the biggest and strongest social and political "NO” to Islamists in the region since the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood and it shall have consequences in the whole region.
What is certain is that Morsi has already gone and that the MB will not be able to compete again for the presidency in the near feature. More stubbornness and no-compromise policy from the MB will not affect the fate of Morsi who is being inevitably toppled now. It would rather affect the fate and future of the MB in Egypt for long years to come.
(The writer is an Egyptian activist, a graduate of Lund University Sweden, and a former research director at the Arab Network for Human Rights Unity.)
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